Here at Nook, we have a passion for people, places, and properties. There is a reason that we say people first, for what makes a neighborhood special if not the people who live there? Welcome to #TastemakerTuesday, where we’ll feature the visionaries in our favorite nooks who are dedicated to building a better community through their talents.
A lot of holiday entertainment is emblematic of its time: Die Hard, Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas, Home Alone, A Christmas Story, and even the seemingly timeless adventures of Charlie Brown or The Grinch cannot help but put you into the mindset and flavor of the period when they were created. Two eternal holiday stories don’t seem to age, however, and those are A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker.
Even if you’ve never seen The Nutcracker, you know parts of the story: The Sugar Plum Fairy, the Mouse King, and Clara’s journey with her beloved Nutcracker who had once been a Prince. With nearly every major ballet company remounting their own version in December, throwing in their own twists and turns but ultimately staying true to Tchaikovsky, it’s hard to imagine a holiday season without a version of the famous ballet to see.
After a hot and cold reception to the 1892 St. Petersburg premiere, various masters of choreography found their way into it: Gorksy, Sergeyev, Fedorova, and of course Balanchine. It wasn’t until the 1960s that Tchaikovsky’s music had a permanent place in the repertoire of most United States ballet companies. It became a very American institution. Alastair Macaulay, a European who was the dance critic for The New York Times, admits to never having seen a performance until he was 21 years-old and in the States.
It’s estimated that Black Friday is the start of the holiday season when nearly 60% of the annual revenue for retailers is made. This may be why some ballet companies present their Nutcracker as far back as Thanksgiving since this one production will often account for almost 40% of their profit. Yet, looking back on my own experiences seeing various productions, I can’t help but feel chills at the memory of an already oversized Christmas tree grow several stories until finding its home near the lights. The children in each production also hold a magical effect; it is one thing to admire a professional dancer’s skills and grace, but for the performance of a young dancer to take you by surprise is an entirely different matter, and in the midst of an already emotional time of year, must be part of The Nutcracker’s charm.
It’s no surprise, then, that our Nook Neighborhoods host their own array of productions. We choose one from each area that looks like the best bet for you and your holiday guests.
The Miami City Ballet presents a bold new design by Isabel and Ruben Toledo that will replace the version they’ve presented for 27 years. These reinventions are always exciting times for companies, and you’ll want to grab tickets sooner rather than later. Runs December 15 - 30 at the Adrienne Arsht Center and the Kravis Center.
The American Ballet Theatre’s production at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts presents Alexei Ratmansky’s choreography, with a Tony-winning costume designer. It runs at one of our favorite Orange County spots through December 18, but check their cast schedule and you may get to see Misty Copeland!
The Bay Area
Oakland Ballet Company has Graham Lustig’s The Nutcracker with the Oakland Symphony. They add unique and modern touches to your favorite moments, including a hot air balloon ride! It runs December 23-24 at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, with special events around every performance.
The California Ballet Company brings over 150 performers to the San Diego Civic Theatre for their annual holiday tradition, including meet and greets, toddler-friendly performances and autism/sensory-friendly performances at special times. Runs through December 23.
State Street Ballet sets its Slavic-influenced tradition within Santa Barbara’s Granada Theatre, inviting it’s professionals to dance alongside students and Opera San Luis Obispo Grand Orchestra. December 16 - 17.
Los Angeles/Long Beach
It’s hard to choose a favorite from this nook region, but the Los Angeles Ballet’s production is set in 1912 Los Angeles, with little sprinkles of Angeleno lore throughout. They still have seats available for performances at Royce Hall in UCLA, the Dolby Theatre and Redondo Beach PAC.
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Photo Credit: Miami City Ballet