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The “Nuts” Are Back!

The Nutcracker is back!…well, cautiously, with the first live performances of the holiday classic in almost two years. Over the next five weeks Nutcracker productions will fill SoCal stages with enchanted princes, Sugar Plum fairies, dreamy young girls, waltzing flowers and dancing mice. Shows start this weekend and twirl across SoCal stages through the end of the year.

Last December 2020, it was too dangerous to gather groups of dancers for the corps de ballets, assemble children for the party scene, or open theaters. Now vaccination rates are up and Covid protocols allow theaters to reopen and dancers to rehearse together.

Productions range from professional ballet companies to training companies with guest artists to neighborhood dance studios. Jaded critics may groan at the prospect of yet another production of The Nutcracker, yet balletomanes welcome the chance to compare various professional full-length versions (this year including Los Angeles Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Inland Pacific Ballet, Long Beach Ballet, and State Street Ballet). The ballet offers a chance to survey local training companies’ current crop of promising pre-professional dancers or the charm of ballet schools’ budding dancers. Terpsichorean riffs on the tradition are offered by Debbie Allen’s Chocolate Nutcracker and American Contemporary Ballet’s chamber-sized Nutcracker Suite.

With productions from Santa Clarita to San Pedro, Santa Barbara to San Diego, Huntington Beach to the Inland Empire, there’s a Nutcracker nearby. Even folk who think they don’t like ballet find it hard to resist the exquisite, familiar Tchaikovsky score and nostalgic holiday celebration that is the setting for a magical journey.

The following round up starts with some of notable professional endeavors and then a regional sorting. Details, tickets, & Covid protocols at the websites.

Let us know any omissions so next year’s round up is even more complete.

A large group at a party dance in a circle in The Nutcracker

Los Angeles Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” Photo by Reed Hutchinson.

Set in 1912, the Los Angeles Ballet’s Nutcracker is an L.A. original, choreographed by company co-artistic directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary, with set design by L.A. artist Catherine Kanner. Now in its 15th season, L.A.’s own professional classical ballet company continues to demonstrate how well it understands this city. This year the company performs in Glendale, Redondo Beach, Westwood, and Hollywood (with a live orchestra), bringing ballet to the audience rather than expecting folks to overcome hours of gridlocked traffic. The superb company dancers have proven themselves a home team to root for. Info, tickets & Covid protocols at Los Angeles Ballet. At the Alex Theater, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; Sat., Dec. 4, 6 pm, Sun., Dec. 5, 2 pm. Also at Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach; Sat., Dec. 11, noon & 5 pm, Sun., Dec. 12, noon. Also at UCLA Royce Hall, Westwood; Fri., Dec. 17, 8 pm, Sat.-Sun., Dec. 18-19, noon & 5 pm. Also at Dolby Theatre, Hollywood & Highland, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Thurs., Dec. 23, 8 pm, Fri., Dec. 24, noon, Sun., Dec. 26, 11 am & 4 pm, $39-$146, discounts for seniors, students, children under 12 years, & military. Los Angeles Ballet.

Dancers in pink costumes surround a couple in white in Nutcracker

American Ballet Theatre. Photo by Doug Gifford.

Celebrated Russian choreographer Alexei Ratmansky’s interpretation of the classic for American Ballet Theatre returns with ABT’s splendid dancers and now as this venue’s resident ballet company. The announced casting includes many ABT stars including several recently elevated to principal status. A complete listing of lead casting (with the caveat that things might change) is at SCFTA. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa; Fri., Dec. 10, 7 pm, Sat., Dec. 11 & 18, 2 pm & 7 pm, Sun., Dec 12 & 19, 12:30 & 5:30 pm, Wed.-Thurs., Dec. 15-16, 7 pm, $30-$188. 714-556-2787, SCFTA.

A young girls with a man holding a Nutcracker doll

Inland Pacific Ballet. Photo by E.Y. Yanagi

Choreographer Laurence Blake and artistic director Victoria Koenig created Inland Pacific Ballet’s version of The Nutcracker that has become an Inland Empire tradition. IPB’s professional dancers are joined by students from IPB’s respected ballet academy. At Fox Performing Arts Center, 3801 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside; Sat., Dec. 11 & 18, 2 pm & 7:30 pm, Sun., Dec. 12 & 19, 2 pm $29-$79, discounts for seniors, students, groups & children 12 & under. Info at Inland Pacific Ballet. Tickets at Ticketmaster.

A Christmas party with guests around the tree in The Nutcracker

Long Beach Ballet. Photo by Katie Bing

Now in its 39th year, artistic director David Wilcox’ version of The Nutcracker for Long Beach Ballet has acquired an array of special effects that have performers fly and perform magic. The production boasts a live orchestra and professional guest artists fill the leads joined by students from the affiliated ballet school. The Friday preview offers half-price tickets. Terrace Theatre, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach; Fri., Dec. 17, 7:30 pm, Sat., Dec. 18, 2 pm, Sun., Dec. 19, 1 & 6 pm, $34-$115. Long Beach Ballet.

Dancers in white tutus in The Nutcracker

State Street Ballet. Photo courtesy of the artists

The professional dancers of State Street Ballet are joined by students from the associated ballet school in its Nutcracker by artistic director Rodney Gustafson. Live music is performed by Opera San Luis Obispo Grand Orchestra. Granada Theater, 1214 State St., Santa Barbara; Sat., Dec. 18, 7:30 pm, Sun., Dec. 19, 2 pm, $26-$106. State Street Ballet.

Here’s where to find The Nutcracker throughout Southern California

Metro Los Angeles

Los Angeles Ballet – UCLA Royce Hall, Westwood; Fri., Dec. 17, 8 pm, Sat.-Sun., Dec. 18-19, noon & 5 pm. Also at Dolby Theatre, Hollywood & Highland, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Thurs., Dec. 23, 8 pm, Fri., Dec. 24, noon, Sun., Dec. 26, 11 am & 4 pm, $39-$146, discounts for seniors, students, children under 12 years, & military. Los Angeles Ballet.

A dancer leaps in the air in The Nutcracker

Los Angeles Ballet. Photo by Reed Hutchinson

American Contemporary Ballet – Debuted in 2017, ACB returns at a new venue with The Nutcracker Suite, a one hour, immersive experience. ACB Studios, 926 Sycamore Ave., 6th Flr., Hollywood; Fri., Nov. 26, 8 pm, Sat.-Sun., Nov. 27-28, 2 & 8 pm, then Thur. & Fri., 8 pm, Sat.-Sun., 2 & 5 pm, thru Thurs., Dec. 23, 8 pm, Fri., Dec. 24, 1 pm, $35-$140. Details, tickets & Covid protocols at American Contemporary Ballet.

Three dancers in arabesque in The Nutcracker

American Contemporary Ballet. Photo by Anastasia Petukhova

Hot Chocolate Nutcracker – Debbie Allen’s take on the classic tale is presented as part of a gala fundraiser at the Santa Monica Airport Drive-In, Interim Open Space, 3233 Donald Douglas Loop S, Santa Monica; Fri., Nov. 19, 7 pm, $500-$50,000 (per car). Benefits at each ticket level, tickets, & Covid protocols at Hot Chocolate Nutcracker.

A Black boy in a soldier suit bows to a young Black girl in Hot Chocolate Nutcracker

The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. Photo courtesy of the artists

Westside Ballet – Yvonne Mounsey and Rosemary Valaire, the late founders of this respected training company, created a Victorian Christmas card version of the Nutcracker. The young dancers perform with the Santa Monica College Symphony. Professional guests share the lead with student dancers. The Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica; Sat., Nov. 27 & Dec. 4, 1 & 5 pm, Sun., Nov. 28 & Dec. 5, 1 pm, $50. Westside Ballet.

Children run out from the skirt of Mother Ginger in Nutcracker

Westside Ballet. Photo by Todd Lechtick

Pasadena/San Gabriel Valley

Los Angeles Ballet – The Alex Theater, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; Sat., Dec. 4, 6 pm, Sun., Dec. 5, 2 pm, $39-$146, discounts for seniors, students, children under 12 years, & military. Los Angeles Ballet.

An Arabian man and woman dance in Nutcracker

Los Angeles Ballet. Photo by Reed Hutchinson

Pasadena Dance Theatre Company director Cynthia Young choreographed this version of The Nutcracker for the students of her well-regarded ballet academy. San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, 320 Mission Dr., San Gabriel; Sat.-Sun., Dec. 18-19 & Wed, Dec. 22, 2 pm, Thurs., Dec. 23, 1 pm, $25-$75. Pasadena Dance, tickets at SimpleTix.

A man waves a cane and a boy in Nutcracker

Pasadena Dance Theatre. Photo courtesy of the artists

Red Chair Children’s Production Company – Children age five to 18 take the stage. Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; Sat., Dec. 11, 2 pm, $10-$60. Alex Theatre.

 

South Bay & Long Beach

Los Angeles Ballet – Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach; Sat., Dec. 11, noon & 5 pm, Sun., Dec. 12, noon, $39-$146, discounts for seniors, students, children under 12 years, & military. Los Angeles Ballet.

A row of dancers as flowers leap in The Nutcracker

Los Angeles Ballet. Photo by Reed Hutchinson

Long Beach Ballet – The Friday preview offers half-price tickets. Terrace Theatre, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach; Fri., Dec. 17, 7:30 pm, Sat., Dec. 18, 2 p.m., Sun., Dec. 19, 1 & 6 pm, $34-$115. Long Beach Ballet.

A stage full of dancers bow in The Nutcracker

Long Beach Ballet. Photo courtesy of the artists

San Pedro City Ballet – The studio where American Ballet Theatre’s Misty Copeland trained showcases its current students. Warner Grand Theater, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro; Fri., Dec. 10, 7 pm, Sat., Dec. 11, 2 & 7 pm, Sun., Dec. 12, 2 pm, $30-$40. San Pedro City Ballet.

South Bay Ballet – Responding to ongoing Covid concerns, the respected ballet school is presenting Nutcracker Highlights as an in studio performance limited to family and friends. They plan to return to the theater in 2022.

Palos Verdes Ballet – Norris Theatre, 27570 Norris Center Dr., Rolling Hills Estates; Sat., Dec. 11, 7 pm, Sun., Dec. 12, 1 & 5 pm, $42, $28 children Palos Verdes Ballet, tickets at Arts People.

Pacific Dance Academy – Centinela Valley Center for the Arts, 14901 S. Inglewood Blvd., Lawndale; Sat.& Sun., Dec. 11 & 12, 2 pm, $35. Pacific Dance Center, tickets at Shovation.

Southern California Dance Theater – Lakewood High School Auditorium, 4400 Briarcrest Ave. Sat., Dec. 11 7 pm., Sun., Dec. 12, 2 pm, $20 reserved, $25 at door. Flipcause.

 

San Fernando Valley

California Dance Ensemble – California Performing Arts Education Center, 2855 W. Mulholland Hwy., Calabasas; Sat., Dec. 18, 2 & 7 pm, Sun., Dec. 19, 1 & 5:30 pm, $22-$40. California Dance Ensemble.

Degas Dance Studio – Agoura Hills Performing Arts Education Center, 28545 W. Driver Ave., Agoura Hills; Sat., Dec. 11, 5 pm, Sun., Dec. 12, 2 pm, $42, $26 child. LVUSD.

Antelope Valley Ballet – Lancaster Performing Arts Center, 750 W. Lancaster Blvd., Lancaster; Sat., Dec. 11, 2 & 7 pm, Sun., Dec. 15, 2 pm, $25-$30, $15 youth. 661-723-5950, LPAC.

 

Orange County

American Ballet Theatre – Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa; Fri., Dec. 10, 7 pm, Sat., Dec. 11 & 18, 2 pm & 7 pm, Sun., Dec 12 & 19, 12:30 & 5:30 pm, Wed.-Thurs., Dec. 15-16, 7 pm, $30-$188. 714-556-2787, SCFTA.

A row men dance before women in pink costumes

American Ballet Theatre. Photo by Gene Schiavone

Festival Ballet Theatre – More than 100 students from Southland Ballet Academy perform in the Nutcracker from this respected training company. Announced professional guest stars and their scheduled performances are at Festival Ballet. Irvine Barclay Theater, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine; Sat.-Sun., Dec. 11-12, 1 & 6 pm, Tues.-Thurs., Dec 21-23, 6 pm, Fri., Dec. 24, 11 am, $35-60. The Barclay.

Anaheim Ballet – Symphony Irvine provides live music. City National Grove, 2200 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim; Sat., Nov. 27, 2 & 7 pm, $25-$45. Anaheim Ballet, tickets at City National Grove.

Sunrise Ballet – Servite Theater, 1952 La Palma Ave., Anaheim; Sat., Dec. 4, noon & 4 pm, Sun., Dec. 5, noon, $20. Sunrise Ballet.

Ballet Repertory Theatre – Golden West College Mainstage Theater, 15751 Gotherd St., Huntington Beach; Sat., Dec. 11 & 18, 2 & 6:30 pm, Sun., Dec. 12 & 19, 1 & 5 pm, Wed. & Thurs., Dec. 22 & 23, 2 & 6:30 pm, Fri., Dec. 24, 1 pm, $25, GWC.

Coast City Ballet – Huntington Beach Historic Theater, 1905 Main St., Huntington Beach; Fri., Dec. 17, 7 pm & Sat., Dec. 18, 2 pm, $22-$24, Coast City Ballet.

Ballet Etudes – Huntington Beach Historic Theater, 1905 Main St., Huntington Beach; Sat.-Sun., Dec. 4-5, 2 & 7 pm, $25-$35. 714-902-9423, Ballet Etudes.

Laguna Ballet – Coast Hills Church,  5 Pursuit, Aliso Viejo; Thurs.-Fri., Dec. 16-17, 7 pm, Sat., Dec. 18, 1 & 6 pm, $35. Laguna Dance Theatre, tickets at BookTix.

 

Ventura/Santa Barbara Counties

State Street Ballet – Granada Theater, 1214 State St., Santa Barbara; Sat., Dec. 18, 7:30 pm, Sun., Dec. 19, 2 pm, $26-$106. Details, tickets & Covid protocols at State Street Ballet.

Ballet dancers take a final bow

State Street Ballet. Photo courtesy of the artists

Pacific Festival Ballet Company – The resident ballet company of the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza is joined by students and guest artists Tiler Peck and Gonzalo Garcia, New York City Ballet principal dancers. Civic Arts Plaza, Fred Kavli Theater, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks; Sat.-Sun., Dec. 18-19, 2 & 7 pm, $27-$45. Pacific Festival Ballet, tickets at Ticketmaster.

Ventura County Ballet – Rancho Campana Performing Arts Center, 4235 Mar Vista Dr., Camarillo; Sat., Dec. 11, 2 & 7 pm, Sun., Dec. 12, 2 pm, $15-$40. Ventura County Ballet, Brown Paper Tickets.

Moorpark Civic Ballet – Scherr Family Forum, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks; Sun., Dec. 5, 1:30 pm, $45-$50, BAPAC.

Santa Barbara Festival Ballet – Arlington Theater, 1317 State St., Santa Barbara; Sat., Dec. 11, 2:30 & 7 pm, Sun., Dec. 12, 2:30 pm, $30-$58. Santa Barbara Festival Ballet, info at The Arlington Theatre.

 

San Diego County

California Ballet – Poway Center for the Performing Arts, 15498 Espola Rd., Poway, Sat., Jan. 8, 1 & 7 pm, Sun., Jan 9, 1 pm, $30-$85. California Ballet School, tickets at TicketSearch.

Golden State Ballet – San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 3rd. Ave., San Diego; Thurs.-Fri., Dec. 16-17, 7:30 pm, Sat., Dec. 18, 2 & 7:30 pm, Sun., Dec. 19, 1 & 5 pm, Tues.-Wed., Dec. 21-22, 7:30 pm, Thurs., Dec. 23, 2 & 7:30 pm, $25-$109. Golden State Ballet, tickets at San Diego Theatres.

City Ballet of San Diego – California Center for the Arts, 340 Escondido Blvd., Escondido; Wed.-Thurs., Dec. 22-23, 2 & 7:30 pm, $27-$99. City Ballet of San Diego.

 

San Bernardino/Riverside Counties

Inland Pacific Ballet – Fox Performing Arts Center, 3801 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside; Sat., Dec. 11 & 18, 2 pm & 7:30 pm, Sun., Dec. 12 & 19, 2 pm, $29-$79, discounts for seniors, students, groups & children 12 & under. Info at Inland Pacific Ballet. Tickets at Ticketmaster.

Girls fight with boys over a Nutcracker doll

Inland Pacific Ballet. Photo by E.Y. Yanagi

Inland Empire Contemporary Ballet – Yucaipa Performing Arts Center, 12062 California St., Yucaipa; Sat., Dec. 4, 2:30 & 7 pm, Sun., Dec. 5, 4 pm, $25-$35 Yucaipa Performing Arts Center.

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