After 25 years, Mark Morris’s gender-bending, Charles Burns-inspired 1970s Nutcracker still pushes the boundaries of the classical ballet. With a cast of Mark Morris company dancers as well as returning performers from the Hard Nut‘s quarter-century history, it’s also something of a family reunion. Brooklyn Magazine stepped backstage during its short run at BAM this year to take a look at one of Brooklyn’s most beloved Christmas traditions.

bkmag_hardnut_1Chelsea Acree, party guest, snow, Russian, flower. “I’ve been doing the Hard Nut since 2007.”

bkmag_hardnut_2Laurel Lynch, party guest, snow, Arabian, flower.

bkmag_hardnut_3Michelle Yard, party guest, snow, flower. “I’ve been dancing in the Hard Nut for 19 years. Other Nutcrackers—I’m biased—are so boring. Especially the party scene!”

bkmag_hardnut_4June Omura gets her hair done.

bkmag_hardnut_5Domingo Estrada, Jr., party guest, snow, Spanish, flower.

bkmag_hardnut_6In the make-up room backstage.

bkmag_hardnut_7Chelsea Acree. “This is my first time doing the party scene, it’s new and exciting.”

bkmag_hardnut_8Kraig Patterson, house keeper/nurse. “It’s the one time I get to perform again. The whole family is getting back together.  The challenge every year is doing it, gravity.”

bkmag_hardnut_9Kraig Patterson. “It’s a reunion, the whole family is getting back together.”

bkmag_hardnut_10Lesley Garrison, Louise/Princess Pirlipat, snow.

bkmag_hardnut_11June Omura. “It’s a different Nutcracker. I sort of grew up with it. I can’t imagine any other.”

bkmag_hardnut_12Nicole Sabella, rat soldier, snow, French, flower.

bkmag_hardnut_13Dallas McMurray, party guest, snow, Russian, flower. “I didn’t used to be all about Christmas but this definitely helps.” Of his large curly wig, “Once this goes on my head, I become a whole different person.”

bkmag_hardnut_14In the hair room backstage The Hard Nut.


bkmag_hardnut_16Lesley Garrison.

bkmag_hardnut_17Kraig Patterson. “My character? She’s gotten a little bit older, more matronly than I used to be.”

All images by Jane Bruce 


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