Don’t miss this holiday tradition – here’s how to watch the Nutcracker this year
The Nutcracker ballet is the ultimate holiday season tradition. And being without it this year is yet another one of the crueler by-products of the pandemic.
There are few holiday season traditions we love more, especially in Champaign-Urbana – but we know this is a tradition that is enjoyed across the nation, if not the entire world.
We certainly are missing that the CU Ballet will not be taking up its traditional residence at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in December, as it has for the better part of 20-plus years.
The Sugar Plum Fairy. The gorgeous costumes and elaborate sets. The live performance of Tchaikovsky’s score by the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra.
The youngest dancers – little cows, soldiers and mice; the more accomplished dancers, whom repeat audience members watch as they grow up. We know those dancers are missing it just as much as we do.
(Side note – we are excited about the unique virtual family holiday show, Manual Cinema’s Christmas Carol, being offered by Krannert Center. Did we say puppets? Check it out HERE. Looking for other holiday events in Champaign-Urbana? Visit our giant holiday events guide here.)
(We might just pretend – get dressed up, drive to Krannert Center’s parking lot, and put a DVD* of another performance into our souped up minivan’s entertainment system. We could also bring nutcrackers from years past, and our own cupcakes. But we digress.)
In lieu of the typical Nutcracker ballet experiences, we know that families will be looking for ways to honor this tradition. We’ve come across several options – many of which are free or relatively low cost – that can help families enjoy the music, dance, and magical experience that the Nutcracker represents.
And maybe you can dress up, make cupcakes, or have a special Nutcracker-themed treat to go along with your viewing.
(Please note that we have not been able to watch these productions in advance. Visit all these sites for more info. These are meant to be all-ages shows; however, they vary in length.)
While you may be able to find other versions of the Nutcracker online, these individual events are ways to stay connected with the special nature of this annual event.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, “Fireside Nutcracker,” Dec. 17-31
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Fireside Nutcracker brings the magic of the holiday season to your home! This virtual production adapts the timeless holiday ballet for film, featuring Tchaikovsky’s stunning score, the brilliant ballet of PBT company dancers and classic Nutcracker characters.
Register for FREE at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s website; you will receive a link to the video at the email provided at registration on Dec. 17, 2020. (The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre has other Nutcracker educational content happening in December, join in for a small fee.)
Saint Louis Ballet, “Nutcracker Extravaganza,” select December dates
Beginning December 12, stream a new, fully-produced Nutcracker Extravaganza that includes favorite Saint Louis Ballet dances and scenes from years gone by, interspersed with newly-set Nutcracker performances from its 2020-2021 dancers, plus behind-the-scenes interviews and Nutcracker fun you could only witness from the comfort of your home.
The Saint Louis Ballet is offering FREE virtual tickets to the live stream of its Nutcracker Extravaganza performances on Dec 12-13, 19-20, and from Dec. 21-23. Register for the free ticket and a link to access the streamed performance will be emailed to you prior to December 12.
Butler Ballet, “The Nutcracker,” Nov. 27 – Dec. 4
Butler University and the Butler Arts and Events Center offer you a magical gift for the Holidays. ButlerBallet’s magnificent production of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker! In the true sense of giving, this honored family holiday tradition is available for everyone to enjoy FREE of charge via butlerartscenter.org from Nov 27 to December 4.
This free event was recorded live in November featuring the talents of the entire ButlerBallet Company. You may choose to view either Cast A or Cast B or choose to indulge and watch both, all as a gift to you. Stream link will become available at 12:00 a.m. on Friday, November 27.
International Youth Ballet, “Nutcracker Highlights,” Nov. 27 – Jan. 1
This one-hour family-friendly performance of the Nutcracker Highlights, performed by the International Youth Ballet company out of Littleton, Colorado, will be presented for FREE virtually this year. The stream will be available throughout the holiday season. Grab the family, pour some hot cocoa and cast the performance right to your TV. Register here to get the link when it becomes live.
The film will then be widely available for free to watch on-demand beginning December 17.
Emerald Ballet Theatre, “Nutcracker,” Dec. 11-13
Emerald Ballet Theatre’s full-length Nutcracker features talented youth and adult performers, gorgeous sets and costumes, and the rousing Emerald Ballet Theatre Orchestra out of Washington state. Last year’s production was performed at the Northshore Performing Arts Center to sold-out audiences! A 2019 recording will have its digital premiere on Friday, Dec. 11 at 7PM (Pacific) and remain online for viewing throughout the weekend. FREE, but donations encouraged.
American Midwest Ballet, “Nutcracker,” Dec. 12-25
American Midwest Ballet’s new Nutcracker Home Cinema Edition is more than just a video. Filmmaker Lance Glenn has enhanced the fresh, lively, and thoroughly entertaining production with close-ups and alternate angles that heighten the on-screen impact of this Omaha company’s performance.
There’s bonus content, including an introduction by artistic director and choreographer Erika Overturff and artist interviews, to make the Nutcracker experience even more rewarding. The Nutcracker Home Cinema Edition will premiere at 7 pm Saturday, December 12 on American Midwest Ballet’s Facebook and YouTube channels, and will be available for viewing through December 25. FREE.
Central Florida Ballet (Orlando), Dec. 12 and Dec. 26
Nutcracker for Kids (One Hour, Narrated Version): December 12, 2020 at 11 am (Eastern)
Nutcracker for General Public (Full-Length Version): December 26, 2020 at 2pm (Eastern)
Kick off the holidays with the Central Florida Ballet’s world-renowned Nutcracker production. Taking a hint from local theme parks, Central Florida Ballet merged the Nutcracker fairytale with a touch of Cirque and a glimmer of pyrotechnics creating an unforgettable experience. FREE, but donations encouraged.
PAID VIRTUAL NUTCRACKER EVENTS
(chosen because they are unique)
“The Hip Hop Nutcracker” – Several streaming options, $25 per household
Recorded live at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, The Hip Hop Nutcracker is a holiday mash-up for the entire family. The Hip Hop Nutcracker is a contemporary dance spectacle set to Tchaikovskyʼs timeless music.
This production is performed by a cast of a dozen all-star dancers, a DJ, a violinist, and MC Kurtis Blow, one of hip hopʼs founding fathers, who opens the show with a short set.
Innovative digital graffiti and visuals transform the landscape of E.T.A. Hoffmannʼs beloved story from traditional 19th Century Germany to the vibrant, diverse sights and sounds of contemporary New York City.
Performances: Dec. 19 and 20, 7 pm and 3 pm. Buy tickets online.
West Michigan Youth Ballet “Nutcracker” – Live streaming performance, $30 per family
The WMYB will offer three live-streamed performances of the Nutcracker spanning three days, December 4, 5 & 6. Although the dancers will be sad not to have a live audience, they are excited to bring the performances to you in the comfort of your own home. Performance will last approximately 2 hours plus short intermission. Buy tickets online.
Other ideas to bring the magic of The Nutcracker to your family this holiday season:
- Head to your favorite streaming music service (or the library) and discover the Nutcracker music. It’s inspiring all on its own.
- Find clips of Nutcracker performances on YouTube or another video service. There are several full-length versions on YouTube as well.
- Find Nutcracker books for all ages. The Nutcracker ballet is loosely based on a book, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E. T. A. Hoffmann. Written in 1816, it predates the ballet by more than 75 years. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet debuted in 1892. The original story, the ballet, and the phenomenon that is the Nutcracker have inspired thousands of books – for all ages. There are lots of lists of Nutcracker-related books, here’s one that features books for children, teens and adults.
- Add a Christmas Nutcracker to your holiday decor. (Here are some online options, but buy local first if you can.)
- Thanks to creative folks, the Internet is full of Nutcracker craft ideas – Nutcracker-themed DIY ornaments, activity sheets and coloring pages. This toilet paper roll craft seems very on brand for 2020 (below).
Looking for all kinds of info for the 2020 holiday season in Champaign-Urbana?
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- What You Need to Know about Hanukkah
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- Make Memories, Not Clutter: 35+ Experience Gifts for Kids
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- Holiday Shopping and Eating in Champaign-Urbana