Land of the Sweets: Your 2019 Nutcracker roundup

The Nutcracker got its start as a short story by German author E.T.A. Hoffmann, then it was set to music by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and brought to life in the 1800s by French choreographer Marius Petipa.

Today it’s an American holiday staple, a fantastical ballet in which professional dance companies and schools collaborate to tell the Christmas Eve tale of Clara and her journey to the Land of Sweets.

This year, audiences will find more sensory-friendly, shorter versions of the ballet to accommodate young children or those with special needs.

11.21-22: Chula Vista Ballet

Principal dancer Misa Kuranaga of San Francisco Ballet is a special guest performing as the Sugar Plum Fairy in this production of the holiday classic.

Joan B. Kroc Theatre, Rolando,

11.29-30: San Diego Academy of Ballet with California Professional Ballet Program

Sylvia Tchernychev always presents her Nutcracker on Thanksgiving weekend. This year, she teams up with Max Tchernychev for a show that features some of San Diego’s most accomplished ballet students.

Joan B. Kroc Theatre, Rolando,

11.29-12.1: New West Ballet

New West Ballet has been presenting a traditional rendition of the classic since 1979, with hand-sewn costumes, original sets and a cast that includes toddlers and seniors, professional dancers and talented students.

Poway Center for the Performing Arts, Poway,

12.6-22: City Ballet of San Diego

The Victorian-era story of young Clara’s magical journey into the land of Christmas is danced to the Tchaikovsky score by The City Ballet Orchestra, conducted by John Nettles. On stage Champagne Reception tickets are available for Saturday evening performances.

Spreckels Theatre, downtown,

A photo of two dancers of City Ballet by Chelsea Penyak
City Ballet of San Diego’s production of Nutcracker will be held at Spreckels Theatre.
(Chelsea Penyak)

12.7: Balletcenter Studios

More than 60 students from two studio locations, (El Cajon and Mission Hills) participate in the holiday classic that tells the story of a young girl’s Christmas Eve and her discovery of the wider world and romantic love.

Kroc Theatre, Rolando,

12.8: Encinitas Ballet Academy & Arts Center

Internationally renowned principal ballet dancers Sayat Asatryan and Olga Tchekachova bring the holiday classic to life in this popular North County presentation. This version is known for hand-painted sets, jeweled costumes and a performance by professionals and trained students.

Moonlight Amphitheatre, Vista,

A photo of a dancer of Encinitas Ballet by Lana and Igor Dovbenko
Moonlight Amphitheatre hosts Encinitas Ballet Academy & Arts Center’s production on Dec. 8.
(Stunning Photography/Lana and Igor Dovbenko)

12:8: GC Dance Company

Want a little jazz in your Nutcracker? This studio, with locations in Solana Beach and Carmel Valley, adds some theatrical flair to its version of the two-act ballet. You’ll see student dancers of all ages, with some creative twists to the Land of the Sweets.

California Center for the Arts, Escondido,

12.10-11: Golden State Ballet & Pilates

As the owners and artistic directors of this new ballet school, Raul Salamanca and Cindy Huang Salamanca present an abridged version of the Nutcracker, featuring up-and-coming student dancers, including some who trained at the prestigious Master Ballet Academy in Arizona. The show will also feature various classical and contemporary works.

Kroc Theatre, Rolando,

12.11-22: San Diego Civic Youth Ballet

Danika Pramik-Holdaway directs the annual, family-friendly Balboa Park production, a tradition that takes the audience to an enchanted land of falling snow, waltzing flowers and toy soldiers.

Casa del Prado, Balboa Park,

12.13-22: American Ballet Theatre

Every year, the New York-based company stages its inventive version of the ballet in Orange County. It’s worth the drive to see Alexei Ratmansky’s choreography performed by some of the country’s top dancers, including Misty Copeland (she performs on Dec. 15, 18 and 21).

Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Orange County,

12.14: 4S Dance Academy

Voted one of the top ballet studios in North County by a reader’s poll last year, this production of professional dancers, guest artists and students come together to portray the holiday classic.

California Center for the Arts, Escondido,

12.14-15: Southern California Ballet

More than 100 talented performers from the company and the community participate in a festive presentation, which includes professional guest artist Victor Wisehart as the Snow Cavalier.

Poway Center for the Performing Arts, Poway,

12.14-15: ‘Mixed Nuts’

Poway’s Lynch Dance Institute created a new take on the holiday classic, mixing in tap, jazz and contemporary along with ballet.
This version also takes out Uncle Drosselmeyer and the love story between Clara and a wooden toy soldier, and keeps the focus on the heartfelt coming-of-age story. .

Kroc Theatre, Rolando,

12.13-24: California Ballet

Artistic director Jared Nelson presents a mix of humor, magic and precise technique in an updated version of the traditional ballet featuring principal dancers and more than 150 young students. The San Diego Symphony plays Tchaikovsky’s score at all full-length shows, and there’s a one-hour, toddler-friendly production on Dec. 13 and 20.

San Diego Civic Theatre, downtown,

12.15: Ballet Institute of San Diego

Billed as “Nutcracker. No sugar,” this new twist of the classic was created by artistic director Egle Spokaite, and features a cast of mostly young ballet students along with martial arts performers.

The Conrad, La Jolla,

12.18: Moscow Ballet

The Gift of Christmas Tour visits San Diego with two presentations of the Great Russian Nutracker showcasing award-winning principal dancers and local ballet students. In the Russian version, Masha travels through the Snow Forest to the Land of Peace and Harmony where she finds giant dancing puppets, beautiful flying birds and dancing couples who pay tribute to the great heritages of the world.

Copley Symphony Hall at Jacobs Music Center, downtown,

12.28-29: San Diego Ballet

As principal dancers prance en pointe, the adorable Gummybears, Gingersnaps and Garland Girls help to tell the story of Clara’s holiday adventure.

Copley Symphony Hall at Jacobs Music Center, downtown,

A photo of San Diego Ballet Nutcracker Dancer Zoe Marinello-Kohn by Canela Photography
San Diego Ballet Nutcracker Dancer Zoe Marinello-Kohn
(Canela Photography)