Every year I splurge once for a NYCB Nutcracker performance. Balanchine's nostalgic recreation of the ballet he danced as a child in the Imperial School of Ballet remains the sweetest, richest, and best choreographed version of the ballet in existence. No matter how many times I watch this ballet, there's always a new detail that touches me as particularly beautiful and tender. In this case, I noticed the delightfully comic treatment of the mice by Balanchine. They're not just enemies of the soldiers -- most of them are just followers, sitting bleacher style watching the fight. When they drag off their mouse king I even felt bad for them.