Music: Baryshnikov's New, Bold Nutcracker

Mikhail Baryshnikov, one of the great dancers of the age—or any age, for that matter—made his debut as a choreographer last week. By no means has the 28-year-old Soviet artist hung up his dancing shoes. He merely added the duties of choreographer and director to those of performer, starring in all three roles when American Ballet Theater's new production of The Nutcracker opened at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Taking on the beloved Tchaikovsky classic as one's initial choreographic venture is a bold act even for Baryshnikov. The Nutcracker contains several problems....

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