8 Ways to Watch “The Nutcracker” This Year

Photo: Courtesy of the New York City Ballet

“Night at the Ballet” 

This year, ballerinas Melanie Hamrick, Joanna DeFelice, and Christine Shevchenko joined together to form the ballet production company Live Arts Global. Their first show, “Night at the Ballet,” is an evening designed to support artists and crew members who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The live show will take place on December 17 and stream on YouTube through December 20. Dancers like Skylar Brandt, Gabe Shayer, Calvin Royal III, and Antonio Douthit-Boyd will perform excerpts from Don Quixote, Romeo and Juliet, and more, while The Nutcracker will be performed by NYCB’s Aran Bell and India Bradley. Of the importance of including The Nutcracker in the night’s lineup, Hamrick says, “My first memory of the Nutcracker was when I was four years old (the same age as my son now!).” Watch Night at the Ballet here.

Maria Kowroski as the Sugarplum Fairy in “The Nutcracker”, choreography © The George Balanchine Trust, New York City Ballet, David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, Thursday, December 5, 2019, 7pm. Credit Photo: Erin BaianoPhoto: Courtesy of Erin Baiano

Offerings from Marquee TV 

This year, the performing arts live on on Marquee TV, an on-demand streaming platform dedicated to global arts and culture. Available for viewing are some very festive programs from the Scottish Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, and the American Shakespeare Center. Some of these streams are ticketed—just like at the theater!—including a screening of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker from the New York City Ballet. Filmed just last year and starring Maria Kowroski as the Sugar Plum Fairy, the production aired earlier this month. Kowroski, who has been performing the ballet with the company for over 26 years, dazzles in what is actually her swan song. “I remember the orchestra sounding more beautiful than ever, and the choreography feeling new again,” the ballerina says. Watch the bittersweet performance here.

Photo: Courtesy of LG Signature

ABT’s “The Nutcracker Pas de Deux”

Despite their canceled season, American Ballet Theatre stars James Whiteside and Isabella Boylston deliver a dose of holiday cheer in a high-tech excerpt of The Nutcracker. Filmed by LG with their 8K Ultra HD format camera, Whiteside and Bolyston dance highlights from choreographer Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker to the iconic Tchaikovsky score. “It was quite a task, trying to get back into performance shape after only dancing in our kitchens since March! Isabella and I worked every day for two weeks with choreographer Alexei Ratmansky on the Grand Pas de Deux,” says Whiteside. “It was very important for us to make sure we wouldn’t be embarrassed by our post-quarantine dancing.” Filmed in November at New York’s High Line hotel, which was dusted in faux snow for the occasion, the clip, at just over 10 minutes, is available to watch here on YouTube. 

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson’s Nutcracker // © Erik Tomasson *** Local Caption *** MASTER IMAGE2007 RepertorySan Francisco Ballet in Tomasson’s Nutcracker.(© Erik Tomasson)NUT07REP-ET302.jpgNutcrackerPhoto: Courtesy of Erik Tomasson

SF Ballet’s Nutcracker Online

San Francisco Ballet embraced the digital world much like Clara does the Land of Sweets. This season, the company presents Nutcracker Online, which is as close to the real things as it gets. Attendees can enter the War Memorial Opera House (home of the SF Ballet), tour backstage, take lessons, and learn the choreography, before entering the main theater and witnessing a filmed capture of The Nutcracker. The performance features Yuan Yuan Tan as the Snow Queen and Davit Karapetyan and Maria Kochetkova. The experience will be up through December 31. Buy your tickets here. 

Photo: Courtesy of Christopher Duggan

The Nutcracker at Wethersfield

For something really unique, head to Dutchess County in upstate New York for an IRL production of The Nutcracker. Staged in- and out-of-doors at Wethersfield, an 18th-century country estate in Amenia, this ballet has been choreographed and directed by NYCB’s Troy Schumacher for his company, BalletCollective. The piece features dancers like Sara Mearns, Tyler Angle, Ashley Laracey, Taylor Stanley, and Mira Nadon, who take audience members (at a distance) throughout the property in a Sleep No More-style ballet. “I was actually brought to the estate to scope out an outdoor performance venue next summer,” says Schumacher. “At the end of our tour we went inside the house, and I thought, Is this the set of The Nutcracker? I became unbelievably excited by the idea of arriving at a historic estate in the Hudson Valley and finding myself a guest at the ballet’s famous party scene. There’s something very special about sitting in a theater watching ballet, but how often can you become part of one?” In-person attendance is by invitation only, but the production will be streamed on December 23. 

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

Debbie Allen’s “Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker

About 11 years ago, actress, dancer, and choreographer Debbie Allen staged her Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, a modern retelling of the classical ballet. The score is hip-hop infused, the stage comes alive like dance floor, and Allen always has a wonderfully diverse cast. It’s become an annual tradition for Allen and her Los Angeles-based dance school to work toward each year, and a new Netflix Documentary, Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, takes us behind the scenes of the high-energy performance. Watch for Allen’s take-no-nonsense coaching and uplifting pep talks: “Women rule the world, I don’t care what they say!” The documentary debuted on Netflix on November 27. Watch it here. 

Photo: Courtesy of the Miami City Ballet

Miami City Ballet’s “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker in the Park

Thanks to the Miami weather, the city’s ballet company is able to put on a full production of the beloved show outside, in Downtown Doral Park, from December 18 through 31. The ballet, which features costumes designed by Isabel and Ruben Toledo, is welcoming guests in groups as large as four to sit (either on blankets or lawn chairs) in the park at a safe distance from each other. Opening night is free of charge and dedicated to essential workers. Get more information here.


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