Holiday

The Nutcracker: Ballet vs. Burlesque

Nutcracker

Everyone knows about the Nutcracker. Even if you haven't seen the famous ballet you probably know the music or the general story. It is a Christmas tradition and one of the most recognizable decorations during the holiday season. This year we decided to put two interpretations of the story to the test.

So..which is more entertaining? The traditional Nutcracker, performed as a ballet, or the more... shall we say... "risqué" Nutcracker, performed as a burlesque show? 

 George Balanchine's Nutcracker with the PNW Ballet, Image credit: Pacific Northwest Ballet 

George Balanchine's Nutcracker with the PNW Ballet, Image credit: Pacific Northwest Ballet 

George Balanchine's Nutcracker 

The Pacific Northwest Ballet has been putting on The Nutcracker every year for the past three decades. It is a tradition for many families to go each year and experience the childish magic that brings to life the dancing candy canes, mice, and best of all, the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Last year big news struck Seattle. The Nutcracker that Seattle had grown to love over the last 30 years, by Maurice Sendak and Kent Stowell, would be getting a face lift. This year's performance is completely updated with sets and costumes by Ian Falconer and George Balanchine's classic choreography. From what we can tell it is brighter, more cheerful, but just as beautiful as always. 

We were lucky enough to have some very young, female commentary coming from the row behind our seats. This added to the story of Clara dreaming of her perfect world. We heard "Ohhhh here comes the peacock, she is my faaavorite." and our personal favorite, as the candies danced, one little girl exclaimed in envy "I wish I had a lot of sugar right now!" Something tells me her parents don't give her lots of sugar for good reason. 

With talented and beautiful dancers on center stage, don't forget to take in the beautiful set decorations and costumes. It truly all adds up to an incredible event. When the curtain drops at the end of the night you will feel like you have just woken up from a dream. Make sure your dreamy state doesn't keep you from cheering loudly, they definitely earn the applause. 

 Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker at the Triple Door, Image credit: The Triple Door

Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker at the Triple Door, Image credit: The Triple Door

Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker

What can we say? We love a good burlesque show. The Triple Door puts on a variety of shows throughout the year, but the Nutcracker is definitely a crowd favorite. For those of you who haven't been to one of these shows, we seriously encourage it. It's fun, outrageous, and surprisingly tasteful.

The storytelling is definitely a little loose, the clothing is even looser, but the talent and the beauty is there. Oh, and beware, the glitter and stagecraft is through the roof. 

At the ballet you see very little diversity, even in a city as progressive and open minded as Seattle, ballerina's are just a certain build and predominately white. What we love when you see a show put on by Lily Verlaine and Jasper McCann is it's guaranteed to pay tribute to all shapes and sizes. Male, female, black, white, big and small, it is a homage to the people of our city and the fun-loving energy that many of us love to feel a part of.

 Taking in both versions of the show

Taking in both versions of the show

So who wins this face off? Can we cheat and call it a tie? Even if they are the same "story" we admit, we have really been comparing apples and oranges this whole time. If you want a magical and fancy night out, the PNB's Nutcracker is absolutely worth the ticket price. If you want a sexy and laughable evening, go with The Triple Door's Land of Sweets

Pacific Northwest Ballet Insider Tip: You can preorder your drinks for intermission before the show starts. This way, when hundreds of people are lining up for another glass, yours is sitting ready for you on a table to the side, no extra charge! 

The Triple Door Insider Tip: Arrive early and eat/drink in the lounge, not the theatre. The menu has more options and it is wayyyyyy cheaper! 

The Wine Gift that Keeps on Giving

The holidays are quickly approaching and if you have a Washington Wine Lover on your shopping list, you might be struggling with what to buy. My guess is he or she already has a fancy wine key, plenty of stemware, and a drawer full of bottle stoppers. It could be a safer bet to buy wine, but sometimes it can be difficult to decide on a single bottle or even a year-long club membership.

What if there was a way to give the gift of more than 150 wines for less than $100?

Hang on to your corks because the Passport to Woodinville is THAT Christmas Miracle.

A two-pack of Passports, found at Seattle-area Costco stores, retails for $99. Each passport is valid for one standard complimentary tasting at more than 50 participating wineries. Most tasting rooms usually charge a small fee ($5-$20) to taste their wines, so if you visit fewer than a dozen tasting rooms over the course of 2017, it’s paid for itself.

The Passport is a genius gift for wine lovers who like to try before they buy and want to truly dive into the world of Washington wine. For sommelier students like me it’s a cost-effective way to train my palate and learn more about our local enologists.

But wait, there’s more! The Passport is also valid at a handful of Woodinville breweries and distilleries, too.

The Passport to Woodinville is located near the gift cards at Costco. Can’t find it? Check the end caps. Take the large cardboard cutout to the cashier to exchange it for the booklets and instructions. Passports must be activated online before first use and are valid the full year 2017.

Pro Tip: If you have a group of six or more using Passports, please call your selected tasting room(s) beforehand and make a courtesy reservation. You’ll get better service and the staff will appreciate the advance notice.

Last but not least, Passport owners receive special discounts at popular Woodinville Wine Country events throughout the year. I seriously can’t wait to start collecting all the winery stamps in January. Bubbles, anyone?

Salud!

Amy L. Dickson is a communications professional, freelance writer, and contributor to Rain or Shine Guides. She’s currently training at the NW Wine Academy for her Level 1 sommelier certification. Follow her at @amyldickson75.

Give More Than Season's Greetings This Year

The holiday season is here. We are now deeply immersed in holiday decorations, giant red SALE signs, and what seems like infinite plays of "Baby It's Cold Outside". It's easy to get caught up in all the twinkly lights and shiny new things that December promises, and it's fine, we love new things just as much as the next person, but we also think its important to not lose sight of what's truly important. Taking care of each other, giving back, sharing our good fortune with those who aren't as lucky. These are things we all need to focus on this time of year (as well as the other 11 months). 

We were lucky enough to get the opportunity recently to spend a day volunteering at Pike Market Food Bank and it reminded us of this. It was a bittersweet feeling, spending the day working to help provide something so important for people in need. And wow, the need is there. It is shocking how many people don't know where their next meal will come from in Seattle. It's amazing and humbling to see/hear how many organizations donate food to the food bank and it's down right mind-blowing how much this single location hands out every week.

The Market Food Bank does a great job of giving volunteers a full picture of their services. We started the morning off delivering grocery bags of food to local residents of Market senior housing (55+) community who can't make it down to the food bank.

From there we grabbed 8 large boxes and a hand cart and went around the market collecting food donations from many of the market stalls and shops (we listed the full list of donors below, feel free to give them your business). The generosity of the market to donate in order to feed the community was a really uplifting thing to see. 

For the remainder of our shift we worked the "grocery line". Helping hand out donated items to people who had arrived to get food.  By the end of the shift the full bins of eggs, milk, bread, and produce were depleted. The Food Bank had supplied over 300 people with groceries that would nourish them and their families. 

This is what we should be giving during the holiday season. Our time, our service, and our hearts. 

 Le Panier donates delicious pastries

Le Panier donates delicious pastries

Pike Place Market businesses who donate to the food bank:

  • 3 Girls Bakery 
  • Seattle Bagel Bakery 
  • Storyville Coffee 
  • Sosio's Fruit & Produce 
  • Lina's 
  • Manzo's 
  • Mama Angelina's 
  • Choice Produce
  • Frank's 
  • Corner Produce
  • Pear Delicatessen
  • Beecher's
  • Michou 
  • Le Panier 
  • Honest Biscuits 
  • Starbucks 

10 Secret Holiday Adventures for your Kids

Christmas at Pike Place Market

It’s the holidays which means it's time to shake off the gloomy weather, get your kids out of the house, and go find some cheer. We went on the hunt to discover all of the lesser-known things to do around Seattle with kids during the holiday season. Check out our list.


1. Gingerbread House Party at Farm Kitchen – This quaint event space in Poulsbo, WA is a wonderful place. They host gingerbread-decorating parties through the entire month of December with lots of icing and candies to make your house delicious and unique ($35 a piece, max 3 people per party). We recommend making a day of it. You can visit the Point No Point Lighthouse, beach walk, and eat some crepes at J’aime Les Crepes.

2. Holiday Shows – There is a ridiculous amount of holiday themed shows around Seattle that would be a perfect afternoon or evening out with your kiddos. A few of our favorites this holiday season include: A Charlie Brown Christmas at Taproot Theater, A Christmas Carol at ACT Theater, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at Seattle Children’s Theater, The Steadfast Tin Soldier at Dance Fremont!, and Holiday Hooray! at the Seattle Symphony.

3. Burn a Yule Log at Golden Gardens – This is a great suggestion from our friend (and Parent Map contributor) Jen Kakutani. Every year on the winter solstice, you can burn a yule log and talk with your kids about things to let go from this year and then think about the things you want to attract for the new year. Golden Gardens is a great place to start this tradition! Just grab bring your Yule Logs and have a seat around one of their many fire pits (first come, first serve).

4. The Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach – There are plenty of holiday festivals around the Seattle area, but we love The Lights of Christmas in Stanwood, WA. They have the largest light display in the entire PNW along with a nightly festival featuring carolers, shopping, treats, and live performances.

5. Hot chocolate at Chocolopolis – Part retail store, part café, this is the place to take the family to try some amazing drinking chocolate. They have different flavors to choose from (dark, milk, Mexican, peanut butter) and you can either drink it there or buy a canister to take home. They also have treats and truffles in all varieties, which would make excellent gifts.

6. Volunteer your time - The holidays are a great time to teach your kids about giving to those in need. We especially love donating and working at local food banks. Check out opportunities to get involved at Northwest Harvest, Food Lifeline, and the Pike Place Market Food Bank.

7. Santa Brunch at Icon Grill – There are so many places to see Santa around Seattle, but we love that you can get some grub AND see Santa at Icon Grill. They hosts brunch with Santa many times throughout December (Santa arrives at 10am and doesn't leave until 1pm). They also have a cookie decorating class with the head chef! 

8. Carriage Horse RidingSealth Horse Carriages have been operating in downtown Seattle since 1979! You can find them around Pike Place Market, Westlake Center, and the Space Needle and you can give them a call at 206-313-0722 to make a reservation. Is there anything more classic during the holidays than a horse drawn carriage ride?

9. Art Classes – Why not get the kids involved in making holiday cards or gifts this year? Curious Kid Stuff offers drop in classes for kids of all ages on Mondays and Fridays and uses a variety of different materials. If you have an older child who wants a bit more of a challenge, Paper Delights has both watercolor and calligraphy classes to choose from.

10. Tubing at Snoqualmie Pass – So maybe your family isn’t a bunch of skiers, you can still enjoy the mountain! Tubing is a blast and a great way to get outdoors and enjoy some snow. The cost ranges from $20 - $24 depending on age and time of day (If your child is 0-5, it’s only $5!) and includes professional grade tubes to use (you cannot bring your own tube). The hill has 12 lanes and 60ft vertical drop. Wheeeeeee!