THE SELECTS: Backstage at the Nutcracker

Ballet soloist Valeria Zapasnikova and principal dancer Leonid Sarafanov perform in Nacho Duato's "The Nutcracker" at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 20. For theatergoers in St Petersburg, Nacho Duato's "The Nutcracker" demonstrates the global appeal of a Christmas classic. When the curtain rises at the Mikhailovsky Theatre, among the oldest opera and ballet houses in Russia, it's the culmination of hundreds of hours of toil and sweat by dancers, costume makers, set designers and musicians playing the famous score by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ballet soloist Valeria Zapasnikova and principal dancer Leonid Sarafanov perform in Nacho Duato's "The Nutcracker" at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 20. For theatergoers in St Petersburg, Nacho Duato's "The Nutcracker" demonstrates the global appeal of a Christmas classic. When the curtain rises at the Mikhailovsky Theatre, among the oldest opera and ballet houses in Russia, it's the culmination of hundreds of hours of toil and sweat by dancers, costume makers, set designers and musicians playing the famous score by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ballet dancers perform in front of a portrait of choreographer Nacho Duato during a rehearsal of "The Nutcracker" choreographed by Duato at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 18. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ballet dancers perform in front of a portrait of choreographer Nacho Duato during a rehearsal of "The Nutcracker" choreographed by Duato at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 18. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
A seamstress prepares a costume for Nacho Duato's ballet "The Nutcracker" at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 19. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
A seamstress prepares a costume for Nacho Duato's ballet "The Nutcracker" at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 19. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
The Mikhailovsky Theatre is seen as final preparations continue for Nacho Duato's "The Nutcracker" in St. Petersburg, Russia November 20. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
The Mikhailovsky Theatre is seen as final preparations continue for Nacho Duato's "The Nutcracker" in St. Petersburg, Russia November 20. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ballet dancers watch their colleagues leap as they stand in front of a wall decorated with the portrait of choreographer Nacho Duato during a rehearsal of "The Nutcracker" choreographed by Duato at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 18. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ballet dancers watch their colleagues leap as they stand in front of a wall decorated with the portrait of choreographer Nacho Duato during a rehearsal of "The Nutcracker" choreographed by Duato at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 18. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ballet soloist Sergey Strelkov performs during a rehearsal of "The Nutcracker" choreographed by Nacho Duato at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 17. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ballet soloist Sergey Strelkov performs during a rehearsal of "The Nutcracker" choreographed by Nacho Duato at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 17. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ballet soloist Tatiana Miltseva adjusts her pointe shoes as she prepares backstage for a performance of Nacho Duato's "The Nutcracker" at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 21. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ballet soloist Tatiana Miltseva adjusts her pointe shoes as she prepares backstage for a performance of Nacho Duato's "The Nutcracker" at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 21. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
A ballet dancer relaxes backstage after a performance of Nacho Duato's "The Nutcracker" at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 21. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
A ballet dancer relaxes backstage after a performance of Nacho Duato's "The Nutcracker" at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 21. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Principal dancer Ivan Zaytsev gets his make-up done before performing in Nacho Duato's ballet "The Nutcracker" at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 20. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Principal dancer Ivan Zaytsev gets his make-up done before performing in Nacho Duato's ballet "The Nutcracker" at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 20. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
A ballet dancer holding a puppet prepares behind the curtain for a performance of Nacho Duato's "The Nutcracker" at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 21. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
A ballet dancer holding a puppet prepares behind the curtain for a performance of Nacho Duato's "The Nutcracker" at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 21. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ballet soloist Valeria Zapasnikova blows into one of her pointe shoes to warm it up before a rehearsal of "The Nutcracker" choreographed by Nacho Duato at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 20. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ballet soloist Valeria Zapasnikova blows into one of her pointe shoes to warm it up before a rehearsal of "The Nutcracker" choreographed by Nacho Duato at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 20. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ballet dancers perform in Nacho Duato's "The Nutcracker" at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 21. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ballet dancers perform in Nacho Duato's "The Nutcracker" at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 21. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
A ballet dancer watches from backstage during a rehearsal of "The Nutcracker" choreographed by Nacho Duato at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 20. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
A ballet dancer watches from backstage during a rehearsal of "The Nutcracker" choreographed by Nacho Duato at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 20. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Musicians rehearse with conductor Igor Tomashevsky before Nacho Duato's ballet "The Nutcracker" at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 20. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Musicians rehearse with conductor Igor Tomashevsky before Nacho Duato's ballet "The Nutcracker" at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 20. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ballet dancers stand behind the curtain as they prepare for a performance of Nacho Duato's "The Nutcracker" at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 21. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ballet dancers stand behind the curtain as they prepare for a performance of Nacho Duato's "The Nutcracker" at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia November 21. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor