The Nutcracker has been synonymous with the holidays for many years. We’ve seen pieces of it and references to it in our favorite television shows and movies as far back as we can remember. Yet still, many people haven’t seen the production in its entirety. We’d like to change that because The Nutcracker is definitely a ballet that everyone should see.
The Nutcracker is akin to Swan Lake, they’re both staples of both community dance groups as well as major companies. Because of their popularity, production quality can vary greatly, but at any level, both productions are noteworthy. While Swan Lake is usually a staple of the spring, The Nutcracker is a staple of the holiday season.
Great for First-Timers
If you’re working to entice someone who isn’t familiar with, versed in, or even remotely interested in the ballet, The Nutcracker is the perfect place to begin. This ballet is very accessible with a clear story that’s easy to follow and it’s filled with engaging costumes and stunning sets. One fun fact is that in Seattle the producers enlisted the help of engineers from Boeing to help design and fabricate the growing tree! These factors allow people who have never seen a ballet before to really get into it. In fact, after seeing The Nutcracker, they’ll be ready to see Swan Lake, too. We’d compare it to working to engage someone with Shakespeare which is often a tough sell, but if you are, you’ll start them with The Tempest or Romeo and Juliet.
Where to See It
The Nutcracker plays all over the country in both community and amateur dance companies as well as at some of the larger venues with the most prestigious ballet companies. From Los Angeles to Miami and New York to San Francisco, as well as everywhere in between, you’ll find listings for The Nutcracker this holiday season. Some listings, for example:
- Los Angeles Ballet: December 9-31, 2017
- Miami City Ballet: December 15-30, 2017
- New York City Ballet: November 24-December 31, 2017
- San Francisco Ballet: December 13-30, 2017
While those listings are all for major ballet companies, you’ll also find community productions as well. We’d encourage you to see it at any level.
The Alternative Nutcracker
An alternative or counter programming version of The Nutcracker premiered in 1991. Conceived by avant-garde dance choreographer Mark Morris, The Hard Nut productions are active all over the world. The East Bay Express’ review stated:
Morris’ The Hard Nut is both fresh and a little fresh, funny, and disarmingly touching; when a flurry of confetti (twenty pounds per night) falls down during the “Waltz of the Snowflakes,” The Hard Nut can utterly melt us with its beauty.
The San Francisco Chronicle noted:
In a ballet set up with broad comic strokes, one might expect parody, but instead, Morris gives us one of the most wholly satisfying blizzards in the history of “Nutcrackers,” mining the rich Tchaikovsky score for moments of rushing exhilaration and breathless cascades.
You can learn more about The Hard Nut at the Mark Morris Dance Group website as well as more about this season’s performances of it on their performances schedule. On the list, you’ll find performances everywhere from Berkeley to Brooklyn as well London to Edinburgh.
Are you ready to embrace this must-see ballet and fall in love with The Nutcracker? Maybe The Hard Nut will work as a precursor or a follow-up for you, too! If you’re starting to fall in love with the ballet, you realize there’s more to it than meets the eye. You should definitely learn some of the stories behind some of the world’s most beautiful ballet music.