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Where to see ‘The Nutcracker’ this year

Male and female ballet dancers performing under stage snow
Reka Gyulai and Preston Swovelin star in the Golden State Ballet production of “The Nutcracker.”
(Samantha Zauscher)

For 2021, the classic holiday ballet is back in theaters, staged by professional companies and ballet schools

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“The Nutcracker,” a classic fairy tale ballet that premiered in 1892, went on to become a popular holiday classic accompanied by Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s memorable score. The pandemic put a halt to the production last year but San Diego’s professional ballet companies and schools are bringing it back to the stage, telling the story of Clara’s dreamy visit to the land of sweets, where she encounters a Nutcracker Prince, twirling tutus, toy soldiers and swirling snowflakes. Check venue websites for the most updated COVID-19 restrictions.


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New West Ballet

Prancing reindeers, dancing candles and waltzing flowers help to make Clara’s holiday fantasy come to life in New West Ballet’s 40th anniversary production. The East County Youth Symphony performs the familiar Tchaikovsky score for all performances except for the Saturday matinee, which is a shortened, sensory-friendly presentation. 5 p.m. Nov, 26; 2 and 7 p.m. Nov. 27; 2 p.m. Nov. 28. Poway Center for the Performing Arts, 15498 Espola Road, Poway. $15-$37 (760) 525-6738 or newwestballet.com

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Balletcenter Studios

Artistic director Michelle G. Noblejas-Bartolomei and former California Ballet principal dancer, Trystan Merrick have choreographed “Clara and the Nutcracker Soldier,” reimagining the setting in an orphanage, where Clara searches for her parents with the help of the Snow Queen and King. 2 p.m. Dec. 4. Joan B. Kroc Theatre, 6611 University Ave., Rolando. $30-$35 (619) 322-7328. balletcenterstudios.com

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San Diego Ballet

The annual Nutcracker Tea Party offers a narrated performance of “The Nutcracker” along with holiday treats, hot cocoa, photo opportunities with Santa and an interactive ballet demonstration at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Dec. 11. Liberty Station Conference Center, 2600 Laning Road, Liberty Station. Tickets are only available online. $55-$65. libertystation.tix.com

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Encinitas Ballet Academy and Arts Center

Internationally renowned principal ballet dancers Sayat Asatryan and Olga Tchekachova present the classic with dancing snowflakes, giant mice, a Nutcracker who becomes a handsome prince and exotic dances representing different cultures. The family friendly show will be staged at two performance sites. Noon and 3 p.m. Dec. 4, California Institute for Human Science, 701 Garden View Court, Encinitas. 1 and 4 p.m. Dec. 18. Encinitas Community Center, 1140 Oakcrest Park Drive, Encinitas. $15. (760) 632-4947 or encinitasballet.com

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San Diego Civic Youth Ballet

Young girl and boy ballet dancers dressed in costume
Emmaryn Stones as Clara and Leonardo Escobar-Moeller as the Nutcracker Prince in San Diego Civic Youth Ballet’s “Nutcracker.”
(Nico Campagna)

The land of sweets, falling snow and waltzing flowers await young Clara (played by Emmaryn Stones) and the and her Nutcracker Prince (played by Leonardo Escobar-Moeller) in the return of this popular family production by artistic director Danika Pramik-Holdaway. 7 p.m. Dec. 10; 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 11; 2 p.m. Dec. 12; 7 p.m. Dec. 17; 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 18; 2 p.m. Dec. 19. Casa del Prado Theatre, $18-$22. (619) 233-3060 or sdcyb.org

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4S Dance Academy

The holiday presentation includes more than fifty youngsters in new, bejeweled costumes. Dec. 11. California Center for the Arts, Escondido, Center Theater, 340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido. Showtimes and ticket prices will be posted at 4sdanceacademy.com.

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Lynch Dance Institute

Inspired by “The Nutcracker” this annual production of “Mixed Nuts” incorporates jazz, ballet and tap to tell a coming-of-age story about Clara, a girl who is led by her guiding light. 2 p.m. Dec 11-12. Joan B. Kroc Theatre, 6611 University Ave., Rolando. $35. (858) 282-9911 or lynchdance.com

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West Coast Dance Complex

A ballet dancer holding a Nutcracker on a bridge in Balboa Park
Marina Hall as Clara for West Coast Ballet Complex
(Ryan Beck)

Marina Hall dances the role of Clara in a presentation of the holiday story that includes talented students and notable ballet professionals such as Ana da Costa and Jeremy Zapanta. 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12. California Center for the Arts Escondido, Concert Hall, 340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido. $40-$60. artcenter.org

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Golden State Ballet

The classic production features choreography by former California Ballet artistic director Jared Nelson. Professionals and more than 50 students from the award-winning academy will dance to the Tchaikovsky score, performed by the San Diego Symphony. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16-17; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18; 1 and 5:30 p.m. Dec. 19; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 22-23. San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., downtown. $28.50-$109. (619) 241-2565 or sandiegotheatres.org

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San Diego Academy of Ballet

Clara journeys from her family’s holiday party to the Kingdom of Sweets, where she finds soldiers, snowflakes and the Sugar Plum Fairy in a production that celebrates the 20th anniversary of the company and features four generations of families. 7 p.m. Dec. 17; 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 18; 2 p.m. Dec. 19. California Center for the Arts, Escondido, Center Theater, 340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido. $34-$40; (800) 988-4253 or artcenter.org

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San Diego Ballet

San Diego Ballet’s touring production of “The Nutcracker” is presented locally with more than 80 costumed dancers, including the sweet Gummybears, the Gingersnaps and the Garland Girls in the telling of Clara’s holiday adventure. 1 and 5 p.m. Dec. 19. The Magnolia, 210 E. Main St., El Cajon. $45-$115. (619) 294-7378. sandiegoballet.org

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City Ballet

Ballet dancers performing in The Nutcracker
Ariana Gonzalez as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Iago Breschi as the Cavalier in San Diego City Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.”
(Chelsea Penyak)

City Ballet has staged “The Nutcracker” downtown at Spreckels Theatre for decades. But this year, while the venue is being renovated, the company will perform its Victorian-era tale in North County. The classic ballet showcases Elizabeth Wistrich’s precise choreography, costumes and grand sets, accompanied by The City Ballet Orchestra, with John Nettles conducting the Tchaikovsky score. 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 22-23. California Center for the Arts, Escondido, 340 N Escondido Blvd., Escondido. $32-$99. (800) 988-4253. cityballet.org

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Maxine Mahon’s “The Nutcracker”

Principal dancer Trystan Merrick and California Ballet School students star in the magical tale of Clara and the Nutcracker Prince. 1 and 7 p.m. Jan. 8. Poway Center for the Performing Arts, 15498 Espola Road, Poway. $25-$80; powayonstage.org

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