Your Guide to All the Nutcrackers in L.A. This Holiday Season
Julia Cinquemani & Ulrik Birkkjær in Los Angeles Ballet's The Nutcracker
Photo by Reed Hutchinson
That rumble isn’t just your post-Thanksgiving tummy but the delightful and inexorable march of approaching sugarplum fairies, waltzing flowers and handsome princes disguised as Nutcrackers, all lined up and ready to land like a stream of planes off LAX.
Since its first American production in 1940, The Nutcracker has become a special seasonal treat, with performances ranging from professional companies such as Los Angeles Ballet and touring companies like Moscow Ballet to training companies presenting promising ballet students with professional guests to ballet school shows.
With shows throughout December at venues all over metro L.A., there’s a Nutcracker for everyone, including some innovative takes on the traditional story, such as a version set in WWII, one boasting a mix of dance styles and one riffing on hot chocolate. Starting with the professional companies, the following surveys the array of Nutcrackers waiting to entertain.
Los Angeles Ballet
The most polished and professional of this season's productions, LAB’S Nutcracker is set in Los Angeles circa 1912. LAB tours its production to theaters throughout the city, this year adding Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre to its existing venues. The dancing talent has deepened at LAB as it continues to prove itself to be the top-drawer professional resident ballet company that has eluded this city. In full disclosure, your scribe volunteers in a chimney onstage. Info and tickets at losangelesballet.org or 310- 998-7782. The Alex Theater, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; Sat., Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 7, 2 p.m. 818-243-2539, alextheatre.org. Also at the Dolby Theatre, Hollywood & Highland, 6801 Hollywood Blvd, Hlywd.; Sat.-Sun., Dec. 13-14, 1 & 5 p.m. 323-308-6300, dolbytheatre.com. Also at Royce Hall, UCLA, 340 Royce Drive, Wstwd.; Sat-Sun., Dec. 20-21, 1 & 5 p.m., 310-825-2101 cap.ucla.edu/ Also at Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd.; Sat., Dec. 27, 1 & 5 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 28, 2 p.m. 310-937-6607, rbpac.com. Tickets for all shows: $31-$99, $24.50-$79 seniors, students & children 12 & under.
City Ballet of Los Angeles in Nutcracker Swings
Photo by Julie Hopkins
For two decades, this Russian company has toured the United States with what it calls the Great Russian Nutcracker; it stops off for two shows here. The cast of 40 includes international competition winners. Tickets at livenation.com. The Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown; Sun., Dec. 21, 3 & 7 p.m.; $53.50-$139.50. 213-388-1400, wiltern.com.
Inland Pacific Ballet
For 20 years IPB's version, created by choreographer Laurence Blake and artistic director Victoria Koenig, has been a local tradition touring the Inland Empire and now San Gabriel Valley. IPB's professional dancers are joined by students from the company's respected ballet academy. Info and tickets at ipballet.org. Arcadia Performing Arts Center, 188 Campus Drive, Arcadia; Sat.-Sun., Nov. 29-30, 2 p.m. 626-821-1781, arcadiapaf.org/. Also at Lewis Family Playhouse, 12505 Cultural Center Drive, Rancho Cucamonga; Sat., Dec. 6, 1 & 7 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 7, 1 p.m. 909-477-2775, lewisfamilyplayhouse.com. Also at Bridges Auditorium, Pomona College, 450 N. College Way, Claremont; Sat., Dec. 13 & 20, 1 & 7 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 14 & 21, 1 p.m. 909-607-1139, pomona.edu/administration/bridges-auditorium. Also at Fox Performing Arts Center, 3801 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside; Sat., Dec. 27, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; 951-779-9800, riversidelive.com. Tickets for all shows: $46-$55, $43 seniors, $24 children 12 & under.
Debbie Allen's Hot Chocolate Nutcracker
Fans of Debbie Allen have a chance to see her perform in Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. Raven-Symoné and Carlos Imperato also star, backed by dancers from the Debbie Allen Dance Academy. Info & tickets at thehotchocolatenutcracker.com. UCLA Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, Wstwd.; Fri., Dec. 12, 8 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 13, 1 & 7 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 14, 2 p.m.; $45-$95. 310-825-2101, roycehall.org/calendar/index.asp.
City Ballet of Los Angeles
Robyn Gardenhire draws on Tchaikovsky’s original score and Duke Ellington’s jazzy interpretation for her Nutcracker Swings, set in World War II at L.A.’s Coconut Grove nightclub. Info at cityballetofla.org. Tickets at BrownPaperTickets.com. Wilshire Ebell Theatre, 743 S. Lucerne Blvd., Hancock Park; Fri.-Sat., Dec. 19-20, 8 p.m.; $20-$60. 323-939-0126, eballla.org.
L.A. Unbound Dance Company
The unconventional Nutcracker Unbound! exuberantly mixes a variety of dance styles, including hip-hop, Bollywood, ballet, aerial, contemporary and rhythmic gymnastics. El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Sat., Dec. 6, 7 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 7, 1 & 5 p.m.; $22-$30. 818-508-4200, 866-811-4111, elportaltheatre.com.
Festival Ballet Theatre
More than 100 students from Southland Ballet Academy perform, with guest stars from major ballet companies as the Sugarplum Fairy and her Cavalier. Carla Korbes from Pacific Northwest Ballet and Fabrice Calmels from the Joffrey Ballet open the first weekend. Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky from American Ballet Theatre perform the second week. Isabella Boylston and Sascha Radetsky from American Ballet Theatre lead the final shows. Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine; Dec. 12-24: Wednesdays-Fridays, 7 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 7 p.m.; Sundays, 1 & 6 p.m.; Mon.-Tues., Dec. 22-23, 2 p.m., Wed., Dec. 24, 11 a.m.; $45, $42 seniors, $40 students. 949-854-4646, thebarclay.org.
Long Beach Ballet
Over three decades, David Wilcox's version of The Nutcracker has acquired an array of special effects from three Disney designers, Flying by Foy, pyrotechnician John Bordeaux, magician Franz Harari and even a white Arabian horse. This year's production features a live orchestra. Info at longbeachballet.org. Tickets at ticketmaster.com. Terrace Theatre, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach; Sat., Dec. 13 & 20, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 14 & 21, 2 p.m.; $31-$98. 20% discount for seniors & children under 12. 562-436-3636, longbeachcc.com.
Marat Daukayev School of Ballet
Former Kirov Ballet star Marat Daukayev choreographed, directs and stars as the mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer in this Nutcracker danced by students from his admired ballet academy. This production recently was the subject of a film documentary. Tickets at brownpapertickets.com/event/886964. Info at maratdaukayev.com. Luckman Fine Arts Complex, 5151 State University Drive, E.L.A.; Sat., Dec. 6 & 13, 2 & 7 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 7, 11:30 a.m. & 4:30 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 14, 2 p.m.; $38-$58. 323-965-0333, luckmanarts.org.
Pacific Festival Ballet
This production boasts guest artists Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild from New York City Ballet, the high-flying Kalinin Russian Dance Troupe and 200 ballet students — and it promises to snow on the audience. Info at pacificfestivalballetcompany.com. Tickets at ticketmaster.com. Kavli Theater, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks; Sat.-Sun., Dec. 20-21, 2 & 7 p.m.; $24-$40. 805-449-2100, civicartsplaza.com.
Inland Pacific Ballet in The Nutcracker
Photo by E.Y. Yanagi
Pasadena Dance Theatre
Company director Cynthia Young choreographed this version for the students of her well-regarded ballet academy. The first weekend offers a pre-matinee party with refreshments and a chance to meet Clara and the Sugarplum Fairy ($20 for the party). Tickets at 626-683-3459 or pasadenadance.secure.force.com/. San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, 320 S. Mission Drive, San Gabriel; Sat.-Sun., Dec 13-14, & 20-21, 2 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 20, 7 p.m.; Tue., Dec. 23, 2 p.m.; $20-$58. 626-308-2865, missionplayhouse.org.
San Pedro City Ballet
Students from the ballet academy where American Ballet Theatre star Misty Copeland trained entertain with this production choreographed by company directors Cynthia and David Patrick Bradley. Tickets at brownpapertickets.com/event/886996. Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. Sixth St., San Pedro; Sat., Dec. 13, 2 & 7 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 14, 2 p.m.; $26-$36, $18-$36 seniors & children. 310-548-7672, warnergrand.org.
Over nearly half a century, Yvonne Mounsey built Westside Ballet into a nationally respected ballet academy, with a particular emphasis on performance. Mounsey and co-director Rosemary Valaire choreographed this version, as charming as a Victorian postcard. Their tradition continues with live music from the Santa Monica College Symphony. Info & tickets at westsideballet.com. Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica; Sat.-Sun., Dec. 13-14, & Sun., Dec. 21, 1 & 5 p.m., Fri., Dec. 19, 7 p.m., Sat., Dec. 20, 11 a.m.; $40. 310-434-3200, thebroadstage.com.
Anaheim Ballet Company
For nearly 30 years, this training company has presented its version of The Nutcracker with choreography by director Sarma Lapenieks Rosenberg. Symphony Irvine provides live music. Info at anaheimballet.org. City National Grove, 2200 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim; Sat., Dec. 20, 2 & 7 p.m.; $22-$45. 714-712-2700, citynationalgroveofanaheim.com/.
California Dance Academy
Jennifer and Robbin Shahani direct the students of their ballet academy. Info at californiadanceacademy.com. Madrid Theater, 21622 Sherman Way, Canoga Park; Sat., Dec. 6 & 13, 2 & 7 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 7 & 14, 2 p.m.; $22, $16 12 years & under. (818) 341-0525 or 818-347-9938, madridtheatre.tix.com.
Conejo Civic Ballet Company
Based in Westlake Village, Ballet Arts' annual production of The Nutcracker features students performing choreography by Maria Tikhomirova and Enton Hoxha. Info at balletarts.org. Fred Kavli Theater, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd.; Sun., Dec. 9, 2:30 p.m.; $15-$31. 805-449-2100, civicartsplaza.com.
Long Beach Ballet
Photo courtesy of Long Beach Ballet
Moorpark Civic Ballet
This version fields a cast of 85 dance students. Tickets at ticketmaster.com. Janet and Ray Scherr Theater, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks; Sat., Dec. 20, 1:30 & 6:30 p.m., $25-$30. 805-449-2100, civicartsplaza.com.
Palos Verdes Ballet
Uta Graf-Apostol choreographed this Nutcracker danced by students from her ballet academy. Norris Center for the Performing Arts, 27570 Norris Center Drive, Rolling Hills Estates; Sat., Dec. 20, 7 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 21, 1 & 5 p.m.; $30, $20 17 & under. 310-544-0403, norriscenter.com/other-events.
South Bay Ballet
The talented students from director Diane Lauridsen's excellent ballet academy take the stage. El Camino College, 16007 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance; Sat.-Sun., Dec. 20-21, 2 p.m.; $30, $20 children 12 & under. 800-832-2787, elcamino.edu/commadv/centerforarts/mainstage.html.
Ventura County Ballet Company
Aaron Smyth from Joffrey Ballet guests with the students from this training company. The Ventura College Symphony Orchestra provides live music. Tickets and info at venturacountyballet.com. Oxnard Performing Arts Center, 800 Hobson Way; Sat., Nov. 22, 2 & 7 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 23, 2 p.m. 805-385-8147, oxnardpacc.com. Also at Ventura College Performing Arts Center, 4700 Loma Vista Road; Sat., Dec. 13, 7 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 14, 1 & 5 p.m. 805-648-2080, artsventura.org. Tickets for all shows: $30, $25 seniors, $$15 children 10 & under.
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