As a child, I didn’t much care for watching or participating in ballet. But I was a big fan of all things that involved playing pretend, dressing up in costumes, and generally being covered head to toe in tulle and sequins and feathers. Thus, my first experience of the Nutcracker was actually attending the local ballet school’s annual fundraising rummage sale, where they sold off all of the worn out, old costumes, many of them from the Nutcracker. Priced at less than a dollar a piece, my mother was thrilled to be able to hand over a few dollars and take me home with a lifetime’s supply of tutus, headdresses, sequined ankle thingys, and more. On the way I asked her why the ballet school had such amazing things, and why on Earth they would get rid of them. Over the drive, she explained to me what the Nutcracker was, and the next year we went to see my neighbor perform in it—she played a mouse.