2020 was the year without The Nutcracker, but now, Thank God, it’s back. George Balanchine’s production, choreographed in 1954 for the six-year-old New York City Ballet, is lovingly rooted in the original Mariinsky production, created in 1892 by Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Balanchine, who’d been a student at the Mariinsky, knew the ballet well, and many think his Nutcracker is the best of them all. A beloved New York City tradition, it is also a tradition at many ballet companies around the world. The Pacific Northwest Ballet has especially close ties to NYCB. Since 1977 its artistic directors have been NYCB alumni—first co-directors Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, and then, since 2005, Peter Boal. The richly colored sets and costumes were designed by the illustrator Ian Falconer. —L.J.