I feel like we lost a part of our collective childhood yesterday when Maurice Sendak passed away. Who didn’t grow up loving his slightly twisted, often hilarious, and always beautiful books?
While he was best known for Where the Wild Things Are and his other illustrated stories, Sendak contributed to the dance world, too. Today the L.A. Times remembers his set designs, which include the fantastical sets he made for Pacific Northwest Ballet’s The Nutcracker in 1983. Apparently Sendak was initially hesitant about taking on the project—“Who in the world needed another Nutcracker?” he asked—but eventually he fell in love with the ballet. And thank goodness, because his designs are (predictably) wonderful. From the bold, graphic tree to the creature-like Nutcracker, they’re just so Sendak. (When he saw them, New York City Ballet co-founder Lincoln Kirstein wrote to PNB: “I have seen the designs for your Nutcracker by Maurice Sendak. I thought they were absolutely magnificent and I was filled with a violent greed and envy.”)
This video gives a sense of what the Nutcracker sets, which PNB still uses, look like in action. RIP, Mr. Sendak; thank you for sharing your world of wild things and wonder with us.