The annual Nutcracker season is upon us and with many theatres closed and ballet companies working at reduced capacity, you may be wondering how to get your fix of Soldiers, Snow, and Sugarplums.
The good news is that several companies are offering this traditional holiday production – or some variation of it – in other formats: online streaming, television broadcasts, and cinema showings.
The Nutcracker Online Performances 2020 list below focuses on just those that are available to a broader, global audience.
To find all Nutcracker performances – whether they be in-person, on the big screen, broadcasting on your local television channel, or online – plus information about the plot, the characters, and a Nutcracker playlist check out our dedicated Nutcracker page.
And why not play our Nutcracker Quiz to test your knowledge about one of our favorite ballets?!
In the list below, those with a ❆ snowflake icon ❆ we will or we have reviewed; these can be read directly below the accompanying performance information.
Please note that not all of these online performances are necessarily “The Nutcracker” as we are familiar with as many companies have adapted their traditional annual production in order to accommodate physical distance restrictions and/or to better suit a digital experience.
Although all of the buttons below each event say “TICKETS”, some of the companies are actually offering their productions at no cost; but they often require registration, so be sure to still click through to make sure you don’t miss a show!
The Grand Pas de Deux excerpt from Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker that American Ballet Theatre traditionally performs at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in California, is a special filming sponsored by LG. It is jam-packed with challenging and quick-paced choreography, especially in the pas de deux. To note is that for the first time in Ratmansky’s staging, the female variation includes Lev Ivanov’s 1892 original choreography.
This 10-minute free performance is a gift from America’s National Ballet Company and a wonderful way to get into the holiday spirit.
This unique version of the holiday classic includes an archival party and battle narrated by company dancer Jillian Barrell. Masked snowflakes mark the beginning of a performance filmed earlier this month that then continues through to the finale.
This entire Suite moves quickly both in overall pace and movement. Andersen’s corps scenes – snow and flowers – are particularly energetic, full of choreographic canons that are done with wonderful precision, a necessity so as to not appear a mess. They dancers are clearly well-rehearsed.
Also to note are the strength of the male dancers. The Sugar Plum Fairy’s two pages? (there is no program credit) and the Tea and Trepak duets are all outstanding.
This abridged version of our favorite seasonal ballet titled Clara’s Nutcracker Prince is a narrated reflection of one of our young protagonists favorite holiday memories. The only section shown in full is the pas de deux of the Grand Pas but the video and audio editing are pretty seamless making for a pleasurable viewing experience. And there is enough shown of each scene so as to not feel like measly samplings. This production is a great way to introduce young ones to both the tale and the beautiful dancing that often provokes them to become interested in ballet.
As indicated in the casting above, it appears that footage is taken from multiple performances; I did not notice this while watching, so glad that it wasn’t a distraction.
✧ Extra Features
Along with Clara’s Nutcracker Prince, A Nutcracker Holiday also features other related activities for the family such as The Nutcracker Scavenger Adventure, Holiday Crafts, Favorite Seasonal Recipes, Spotify Playlists, and Coloring Pages. This makes for a full afternoon of holiday fun!
Choreographers: Mikko Nissinen + Paul Craig, Chyrstyn Fentroy, Arianna Hughlett, John Lam, Gabriel Lorena, Haley Schwan, My'Kal Stromile
Grand pas de deux from The Nutcracker: Viktorina Kapitonova + Tigran Mkrtchyan
Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite: Boston Ballet, Boston Ballet II, and Boston Ballet School Post Graduates
✧ Boston Ballet The Gift Review
For those expecting classical ballet, the first part of this program features the Grand pas de deux from Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker. The experience is unique, though: Vitorina Kapitonova and Tigran Mkrtchyan’s costumes come with coordinating masks and they dance to Alex Foaksman’s live piano playing. It is an interesting decision to not use a recorded orchestral version of Tchaikovsky’s famous notes resulting in more of a dress rehearsal vibe than that of a performance.
Segueing the classical to the contemporary is Eric Jackson, aka the “Dean of Boston Jazz Radio”, providing some history of Duke Ellington. Ellington’s “The Nutcracker Suite” serves as the music and inspiration of what is to follow.
Boston Ballet, Boston Ballet II, and Boston Ballet School Post Graduates choreograph nine short pieces for each other. Aside from the score, the threads that tie them together are a coordinated palette of grayscale and red hued costumes and the sole piece of scenery that stays suspended throughout. Paul Craig’s Sugar Rum Cherry (Dance Of The Sugar-Plum Fairy) feels overall the strongest and Chyrstyn Fentroy’s stage presence although minimal is most memorable; but each vignette shows admirable effort in creating contemporary dance to syncopated music.
This made-for-tv one-hour production is introduced by Hoda Kotb and narrated by Drosselmeier. It is a very abridged version of the full-length performance, so perhaps a good introduction for the young ones, but not a fulfilling experience for those wanting to watch a lot of dance. The only (near) full scenes that are shown are the Battle, Snow, Spanish, Flowers, and the Grand Pas Deux, the highlights being Ji Young Chae and Seo Hye Han as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Snow Queen, respectively.
This offering is complimentary, though, so if you’re looking for a quick fix of this holiday favorite all that’s required is registration with an email address.
✧ Grand Rapids Ballet Nutcracker Experience Review
Although not the most glamorous of Nutcrackers, Grand Rapids Ballet‘s presentation for this holiday season is a special one. The company really accentuates the significance of the arts in their local and broader communities by including coverage of the Grand Rapids Symphony. In fact, the film begins with them – masked and physically distanced – playing the overture for the narrated Party and Battle Scenes.Between Snow and Act II, there is also behind the scenes footage at the making of this production. From the artists talking about their first dance experiences to a peek into the costume shop to a look at how footage is spliced together, we are made aware of just how much human effort is made in the creation of ballet magic. Especially interesting to learn is that only four dancers are on stage at any given time; but due to incredible compositing and editing, we are provided a seamless viewing experience.The second act includes most of the divertissements as well as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier variations and coda (there is no grand pas de deux). The dancers’ technique is not always as refined as one would expect from a professional company, but their energetic presence consistently radiates throughout.
Grand pas de deux: Maria Kochetkova and Davit Karapetyan
✧ San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Review
Set in 1915 in San Francisco, Helgi Tomasson’s 2004 version of “The Nutcracker” features glamorous costuming and decorative nuances of that era.
The story is well-woven with details that make you think, “Oh yes! That totally makes sense!” For example, in the first act all of the mechanical dolls (the Nutcracker being one of them) appear in the beginning of Clara’s dream, giving weight to the theory that what we experience in real life enters our subconscious mind. Also, the King of the Mice’s death is not precipitated by a ballet slipper but rather… well, best to leave that surprise for your viewing! As Clara and her Nutcracker-turned-Prince journey through the Land of Snow, the Queen, King, and snowflakes they encounter are absolutely beautiful.
In the second act, the Sugar Plum Fairy reigns the Crystal Palace which is filled with dragonflies, butterflies, and ladybugs. The divertissements perform for Clara and Drosselmeyer who sit upon a dais that changes location in order to adapt to the dances. The Sugar Plum Fairy leads the flowers (so no Dewdrop Fairy) and when Clara’s dream to become a ballerina comes true, it is a more adult version of herself that dances the Grand Pas de Deux with the Prince.
Tomasson’s unique vision and choreography are what make this version of “The Nutcracker” worth seeing.
✧ Extra Features
In San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker Online, you will also be treated to an introduction by Elizabeth Powell who plays Clara in the filming and is now a soloist in the company, interactive virtual reality images of the exterior and interior of the city’s War Memorial Opera House, a history of The Nutcracker (in 1944, San Francisco Ballet performed the first full version in America!) and thematic games to bring you even more joy during a time when it is so needed.
Cherilyn's lifelong passion for ballet has opened the door to the next chapter of her journey. Her strong foundation includes training at the School of American Ballet, being a featured dancer with Hartford Ballet and Carolina Ballet, and being co-director/owner of City Ballet Raleigh. She was granted the Affiliate Teacher Award after successfully completing the ABT National Training Curriculum®. A professional career in the industry along with extensive global travel provide her with a unique set of experiences to draw upon as a journalist and audience member. Cherilyn is excited to be sharing her insight about ballet around the world.