We all love SWAG—or “stuff we all get.” When going on a trip to Disney land, everyone feels the need to acquire every Mickey Mouse baseball hat, Pluto backpack, or Minnie Mouse water bottle to stay on theme. It’s a part of the whole experience—the memento to remind us of it. If I look through my dresser drawer and ballet locker, my collection of t-shirts contains numerous fond memories from over the years—a tee of Cirque du Soleil’s show “O” from our company tour to Las Vegas, a couple different ones from a various tours to Vail International Dance Festival, a Les Misérables shirt from when Price and I saw the production here in Seattle at the Paramount, a Molly Moon’s ice cream shirt from a tasty dessert spot here in town, a tee from where Price and I honeymooned is a definite favorite. These lie among multiple more. Being the Seattle coffee lovers that we are, Price and I have acquired a collection of “coffee shirts” from favorite roasters and shops over years of summer road trips. 

We all have stuff like the Suddarth shirt collections—souvenirs from special trips, places, shows, or experiences that recall fond memories and take us back to those special moments. On top of that, it’s an opportunity to support those places or shops that we enjoyed so much. We get a warm reminder and they get an extra financial boost. Seems pretty great if you ask me.

If you’re scrolling through Pacific Northwest Ballet’s blog, then I’m guessing you’re a fan. AND, if you’re a fan then wouldn’t you enjoy having a little keepsake of the company to wear, display, or have around to remind you of the way PNB has brought a little joy into your life? So then have you visited the PNB gift shop? There are books to read to dig deeper into the artists, the movement, the ideas behind what happens up on that stage; there is music to play at home that transports you back to a particular breathtaking moment you can’t forget; there are ornaments to hang on your Christmas tree to represent your family Nutcracker tradition. There’s even a PNB hoodie to cozy up in at the end of a crisp fall day. There is something for everyone.

If you ask me, I have two personal favorite items in the shop as they have special significance in my mind.  The first is the E.T.A. Hoffman book The Nutcracker, with images by Maurice Sendak.  As a young six-year-old doing my first Nutcracker (a ginger cookie understudy mind you) in Kansas, I discovered that book on my parents’ book shelf.  In classic Sendak fashion, the vivid pictures inside blended the warmth of the Christmas holiday with the quirky, eccentric drawings of Sendak’s work.  I couldn’t get it out of my head and every year after I pulled it back out to page through at Christmas time. You can’t imagine my surprise when I got to my first Act II stage rehearsal of PNB’s Nutcracker fourteen years ago, and I saw the very same characters on the backdrop, only now they were life-size.  It was one of those beautiful moments of life coming full-circle. And although our new backdrop now is different, the ideas, the warmth, the spirit of The Nutcracker hasn’t gone anywhere—and that feeling I had at six will stick with me every time I page back through that book.

My other favorite item in the PNB gift shop won’t come as a surprise if you know much about Price and I off the stage as of late. We’ve had a particular new development that’s brought a whole new light into our lives—and his name is Milo. Before Milo arrived, we hadn’t stepped foot in PNB or seen any friend or coworker in over a month and a half due to the COVID 19 pandemic. It felt especially distant, especially during such a big moment of our lives. Barely a week after his arrival, a massive bouquet of flowers arrived on our doorstep with another special gift—a tiny blue PNB onesie saying “ballet bebe” for our new little guy. The love from our company was tangible. Needless to say, personally, I find that memento particularly special. 

These are my favorites, but the options are many and everyone’s experience is unique. Until we gather again at McCaw Hall in person, and you can wander through the friendly Amusements Gift Shop while you wait for the 7:30 pm mark when the curtain rises, here is the link to the online shop.  Maybe spend a couple minutes browsing through before tuning into one of PNB’s virtual performances of the 2020/2021 season.

What will stick out for you?  What sweet memories will it hold?

Written by PNB Dancer Emma Love Suddarth. Photo of Price Suddarth, Emma, and Milo Suddarth courtesy of Emma.

Featured photo: Emma Love Suddarth in George Balanchine’s Diamonds. Choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust. Photo © Lindsay Thomas.