If there’s anything that marks the beginning of the holiday season for dancers and dance lovers alike, it’s counting down to performances of the Nutcracker ballet. But with the coronavirus shuttering dance companies and performance venues around the world to various degrees, could this be the year without a Nutcracker?

Some major US ballet companies who were forced to cancel their Nutcracker runs this year, including American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, haven’t yet announced a digital offering in their place, but many other resilient companies have innovated ways to digitally stream the holiday dance classic safely, and for a potentially wider audience than ever. Here are some options to visit the land of the Sugarplums virtually this December:

These creatively produced Nutcracker ballets are an example of the resilience of the arts and the joy they bring to communities

San Francisco Ballet dancers as the Rat King and the Nutcracker Prince in a fighting scene
San Francisco Ballet − Photo: Erik Tomasson

Atlanta Ballet

Atlanta Ballet will stream a previously recorded version of its annual Nutcracker on-demand from Nov. 16-Dec. 27, with the link to watch available for 72 hours from purchase. They will also show the same recording drive-in style in the parking lot of the performing arts center they would have been performing at, complete with Nutcracker-themed concessions and a socially-distanced marketplace from Dec. 2-6.

Ballet Arizona

Mark down a Saturday in December to watch Ballet Arizona’s Nutcracker, which will be available for 24 hours from purchase on Dec. 12 and Dec. 19. The link will also include bonus content including dancer interviews and behind the scenes moments. If you’re local to Phoenix, you can upgrade to a VIP experience for delivery of themed treats and activities.

Ballet Austin

The Texas ballet company is celebrating its 58th annual Nutcracker with an extensive online, interactive experience including on-demand videos of performances from the production, cast and crew interviews, rehearsal footage, and more. The multimedia experience will also offer ‘culinary tips and treats’, arts and crafts, and family activities. Dates and program information will be available soon.

Ballet Memphis

One of the few companies to film an entirely new production, Ballet Memphis is shooting their Nutcracker this year around local venues and the company’s studio. The performance will be broadcast on Memphis’s local PBS station WKNO and WKNO2 on Friday, Dec. 11 at 8 pm CST, and then after the premiere on the ballet company’s digital channels.

Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet is partnering with news stations NBC10 Boston, NECN, and Telemundo to stream a new, one-hour broadcast of the Nutcracker on Nov. 28, Nov. 29, Dec. 5, and Dec. 25. For interested audiences outside of the New England area, the ballet company will be streaming the performance for free for a limited time on their website.

A partnered arabesque pose in Boston Ballet Nutcracker Snow scene
Boston Ballet − Photo: Liza Voll Photography

Debbie Allen Dance Academy

The prolific Debbie Allen may not be able to bring her original Hot Chocolate Nutcracker to live audiences in Los Angeles this year, but luckily Shonda Rhimes’s Shondaland production company filmed the dancers as they rehearsed and performed their annual show last year. The resulting documentary ‘Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker’ will premiere on Netflix on Nov. 27th. If you haven’t been able to see this exciting reimagining of the holiday classic in person, now is your chance to enjoy a diverse cast of young dancers in an array of dance styles, an original score and story, and celebrities such as Raven-Symoné, Tichina Arnold, and Allen herself as you’ve never seen them before.

Moscow Ballet

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, usually on tour across the US during the holiday season, will be available to stream on the arts and culture video on-demand website Marquee TV from Dec. 19-31. Tickets are $25 after a subscription to the streaming service, which offers a free trial and discounts for students, educators, and arts professionals.

Pacific Northwest Ballet

Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet is streaming a previously recorded performance of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker starting Dec. 18. Upgrade your ticket to ‘Digital Performance Plus’ to gain early access to the stream starting on Dec. 11, along with extras like behind the scenes videos and costume sketches. They even offer a separate ‘Nutcracker Gift Box’ to add on to your purchase for delivery.

Pacific Northwest Ballet scene of Drosselmeyer brandishing a Nutcracker toy in front of a Christmas tree
Pacific Northwest Ballet − Photo: Angela Sterling

San Francisco Ballet

The first company to produce a full-length production of the Nutcracker in the US is keeping the tradition alive, this year offering an interactive ‘Nutcracker Online’ experience to replace their annual in-person run at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. From Nov. 27-Dec 31 you can watch a previously recorded performance as well as enjoy extras like a virtual tour of the opera house, choreography tutorials, and other online activities. Their online Holiday Shop will also be available for all your gifting needs.

The Royal Ballet

While The Royal Ballet is returning to the Royal Opera House in London for The Nutcracker with socially distanced, limited audiences, you can view a previous recording of Peter Wright’s version of the holiday classic on-demand anytime with a Marquee TV subscription.

Washington Ballet

Although details aren’t available just yet, the Washington Ballet is working on presenting a digital version of their DC-influenced Nutcracker, including extras like interviews and behind the scenes content.

Discover a new version of the Nutcracker you may never have experienced otherwise.

The closure of so many performance venues and dance companies due to the pandemic is an immeasurable loss, but these creatively produced Nutcracker ballets are an example of the resilience of the arts and the joy they bring to communities, as well as an opportunity to help an industry that has been largely unsupported during this time. Even if your favorite ballet company isn’t performing this year, consider watching one of these virtual performances from across the US and abroad to discover a new version of the Nutcracker you may never have experienced otherwise. Plus, with more control over your performance-watching environment than usual, you can make your Nutcracker experience extra special: dressing up like you would for the theater or dressing down in your cozy winter pajamas, making your own holiday treats to watch the show, or even being able to pause when someone needs a bathroom break! While these digital options won’t ever replace the magic of seeing the Nutcracker live, watching and supporting these companies will help ensure that they survive for future Nutcrackers to come - the experience, like many others at the moment, will just be a little more creative this year. 

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