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. Pennsylvanians have been blessed with this production as well. Barbara Weisberger, who founded the Pennsylvania Ballet in 1963, was the first student that Balanchine accepted into his School of American Ballet, back in 1934. She was an influential teacher and a visionary director, and she always kept in touch with Mr. B. So the company has strong ties to NYCB. There have been a number of artistic directors since Weisberger, who retired in 1982 (and died in January of 2021). Angel Corella, the charismatic former star at American Ballet Theatre, is the present director. — L.J.
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