The Nutcracker Ballet in NYC: 10 Versions of this Holiday Classic for Kids 2012
New York City is a magical place during the holiday season, full of so many treasures for young children to discover. The classic Nutcracker ballet is one such delight, and the city offers many wonderful interpretations of this beautiful Christmas show.
Think it might be too much for your little ones to sit through? Don't worry: There are lots of family- (and budget-) friendly Nutcracker productions beyond the big Balanchine ballet at Lincoln Center. We've rounded up ten different Nutcrackers, including offbeat or just-for-kids versions of the timeless classic, playing in NYC this season. Many are abridged and inexpensive but still possess the charm to keep kids wide-eyed.
Joffrey Ballet School – Tribeca
Tribeca Performing Arts Center at Borough of Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers Street at West Street
Friday, November 30 at 7pm and Saturday, December 1 at 1pm
Students from the esteemed ballet academy will present their version of The Nutcracker, following Clara and her adventures in the Kingdom of Sweets. This family-friendly ballet is an elegant introduction to the holiday classic.
The Yorkville Nutcracker – Upper East Side
The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, East 68th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues
Thursday, December 6 and Friday, December 7 at 7pm; Saturday, December 8 at 2 and 7pm; Sunday, December 9 at noon and 5pm
Set in New York City in 1895, Dances Patrelle's Nutcracker stars New York City Ballet principals Jennifer Ringer and Jared Angle as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. Watch with delight as they dance through classic NYC locales such as Gracie Mansion, Wollman Rink in Central Park and the New York Botanical Garden conservatory.
Ballet for Young Audiences – Citywide
Thursday, December 6-Saturday, December 22: various locations, dates, times and prices. Visit the website for a complete schedule.
This holiday season, Ballet for Young Audiences is bringing its production of The Nutcracker to Queens' Flushing Town Hall and Manhattan's 92nd Street Y, among other NYC locations. Travel to the Enchanted Forest and the Kingdom of Sweets and delight in the high-energy dances of the second act in this special narrated performance that's perfect for little ones.
New York Theatre Ballet – Midtown East
Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street between Madison and Park Avenues
Friday, December 7 at 4:30pm; Saturdays, December 8 and 15, and Sundays, December 9 and 16 at 11am, 1 and 3:30pm; Saturday, December 22 at 11am and 1pm
Purists might feel a little cheated by this abridged version designed to be short enough for the littlest viewers to get their first taste of The Nutcracker ballet, but squirmy preschoolers are welcome at this performance. Keith Michael's The Nutcracker is performed in the intimate Florence Gould Hall, so kids really feel like they're part of the show. You can also catch it for FREE at the Winter Garden in the World Financial Center on Tuesday, November 27 at 12:30 and 6pm, and Wednesday, November 28 at 12:30pm.
American Ballet Theatre – Fort Greene
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Avenue
Friday, December 7-Sunday, December 16, times vary. Visit the website for a complete schedule.
ABT returns to BAM for this distinguished production of The Nutcracker. We went when it originally debuted and were totally blown away. In terms of choreography and sets, it truly rivals the big show at Lincoln Center. Of course, serious ballet comes at serious prices. The show is almost two hours long with intermission, and ABT recommends it for ages 4 and up.
Kozlova's Nutcracker – Upper West Side
Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th Street
Saturday, December 8 at 5pm
$35 for adults, $25 for children
Valentina Kozlova's Dance Conservatory of New York performs this full-length version of the Christmas ballet, inspired by the productions of Russia's famed Kirov Ballet.
Brighton Ballet Theater/School of Russian American Ballet – Manhattan Beach
Leon M. Goldstein Performing Arts Center, Kingsborough Community College, 2001 Oriental Boulevard
Saturday, December 8 at 5pm
Designed with families in mind, this abridged Nutcracker features more than 80 young dancers along with spectacular scenic design and sumptuous costumes. Recommended for ages 4 and up.
The Knickerbocker Suite – Upper West Side
Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, 248 West 60th Street between Amsterdam and West End Avenues
Wednesday, December 12-Friday, December 14 at 7pm; Saturday, December 15 at 3 and 7pm; Sunday, December 16 at 3pm
$25 for adults, $20 for students
Experience The Nutcracker NYC-style with classic scenes from the ballet set among famous Manhattan landmarks. Watch dancers weave their way through Bloomies and Macy's for some last-minute shopping in the Land of the Snow, or check out street vendors selling their wares in the Land of the Sweets. This delightful performance features the Manhattan Youth Ballet.
The Colonial Nutcracker – Flatbush
Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts, Walt Whitman Theatre at Brooklyn College, 2900 Campus Road
Sunday, December 16 at 2pm
The Dance Theatre in Westchester performs this full-length version of Tchaikovsky's classic, set in colonial Yorktown during the Revolutionary War. Featuring a red-coated army of mice and the spellbound nutcracker prince, this Nutcracker interpretation is a wonderful holiday experience for families to enjoy. Recommended for ages 4 and up.
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker – Upper West Side
David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza at 63rd Street
Friday, November 23-Sunday, December 30, times vary. Visit the website for a complete schedule.
Tickets start at $29 for non-peak and go up to $250 for "sweet seats."
We can’t do a post on The Nutcracker without mentioning the granddaddy of them all. This magical production is a must-see-at-least-once-in-your-life New York City holiday attraction. That said, we don't recommend New York City Ballet's well over two-hour performance for young kids.