‘Nutcracker’ season sees hundreds of performances of the classic ballet

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‘Nutcracker’ season is here once again.

Debbie Allen’s ‘Hot Chocolate Nutcracker’ will be performed at UCLA’s Royce Hall on Saturday, the Joffrey Ballet just finished a one-week run at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Los Angeles Ballet will be performing it in locations around the city over the next couple of weeks. That’s a lot of wintery ‘Nutcracker’ holiday cheer in one city where it doesn’t even snow, and it’s not even the full extent of ‘Nutcracker’ action in the Southland.

Though Los Angeles has a large number of ballet companies performing the Tchaikovsky classic, it’s not the U.S. city with the most total ‘Nutcracker’ performances.

According to Goldstar, the discount live event ticketing service that hands out an award every year to the top-rated ‘Nutcracker’ production in the country, there are 12 separate productions of ‘The Nutcracker’ in Los Angeles and another six in the Inland Empire and Orange County. By comparison, New York City has five productions and Chicago has seven. But Chicago is tops when it comes to total performances, with 60.

In total, 121 cities in the U.S. put on major productions of ‘The Nutcracker’ for a total of 751 public performances.


But lest you think these hundreds of performances are cookie-cutter productions of the exact same ballet, a look at the list of productions reveals a wide variety of interpretations.

There are 33 productions that feature live horses, four set in 1950s Harlem, two burlesque ‘Nutcrackers’ and one swingin’ jazz version. In Los Angeles alone, there’s Allen’s revised ‘Nutcracker’ narrated by three rats and ‘The Nutcracker Unbound,’ featuring the classic music remixed in modern interpretations and styles.

How does one ballet continue to return year after year, and support so many different productions? The ability to constantly reinterpret the material no doubt helps quite a bit.

As Debbie Allen told Culture Monster earlier this month, ‘The Nutcracker’ has ‘always been one of my favorites. I think things that are that entrenched into our society and culture deserve another look and maybe have fresh air breathed into it.’


A full list of holiday dance and theater productions for 2011

‘Nutcracker’ keeps workers on their toes

Dance review: Joffrey ‘Nutcracker’ at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

-- Patrick Kevin Day