The Nutcracker Ballet for NYC Kids: 12 Versions of the Holiday Classic
New York City is a magical place during the holidays, 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 a dozen different Nutcrackers playing in NYC this season, including offbeat and just-for-kids versions of the timeless classic. Many are abridged and inexpensive but still possess the charm to keep kids wide-eyed.
Ballet for Young Audiences – Upper East Side
92nd Street Y, Kaufman Concert Hall, 1395 Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street
Tuesdays, November 26 and December 10 at 10:15am
This troupe performs its narrated production of The Nutcracker at schools throughout the five boroughs. But these two early morning performances are open to the public. Call 212-662-4628 for reservations.
The Yorkville Nutcracker – Upper East Side
Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, East 68th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues
Thursday, December 5 and Friday, December 6 at 7pm; Saturday, December 7 at 2 and 7pm; Sunday, December 8 at noon and 5pm
Set in New York City in 1895, Dances Patrelle's Nutcracker stars New York City Ballet principals Jenifer Ringer and Jared Angle as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier alongside young dance students from Ballet Academy East and elsewhere. Watch as they dance through classic NYC locales such as Gracie Mansion, Wollman Rink in Central Park and the New York Botanical Garden.
Dance Conservatory Performance Project's Nutcracker – Upper West Side
Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th Street
Saturday, December 7 at 3pm and 7pm
Matinee: $40 for adults, $20 for children; evening: $35 for adults, $20 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.
American Ballet Theatre – Fort Greene
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Avenue between Ashland Place and St. Felix Street
Friday, December 13-Sunday, December 22, times vary. Visit the website for a complete schedule.
ABT returns to BAM with its lauded production of The Nutcracker. We went when it debuted a few years back and were totally blown away. In terms of choreography and sets, it truly rivals the big show at Lincoln Center. Of course, serious ballet is a serious commitment: It's pricey and two hours long, and is recommended for ages 4 and up.
Joffrey Ballet School – Greenwich Village
NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, 566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square South
Friday, December 13 at 7pm; Saturday December 14 at 2pm and 7pm; Sunday, December 15 at 1pm and 5pm
Students from the esteemed ballet program present their version of The Nutcracker featuring Clara and her adventures in the Kingdom of Sweets. This family-friendly performance is an elegant introduction to the holiday classic.
The Knickerbocker Suite – Upper West Side
Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, 248 West 60th Street between Amsterdam and West End Avenues
Fridays, December 13 and 20 at 7pm; Saturdays, December 14 and 21 at 3 and 7pm; Sundays, December 15 and 22 at 3pm
$25 for adults, $20 for students
Experience The Nutcracker NYC-style with the ballet's classic scenes set at famous Manhattan landmarks. Watch dancers weave their way through Bloomies and Macy's for some last-minute shopping in the Land of Snow, or check out street vendors selling their wares in the Kingdom of Sweets. This delightful performance features the Manhattan Youth Ballet.
New York Theatre Ballet – Midtown East
Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street between Madison and Park Avenues
Saturday December 14, and Sundays, December 15 and 22 at 11am, 1 and 3:30pm
This heavily abridged version runs just an hour so it's the perfect way to give squirmy preschoolers their first taste of The Nutcracker. Keith Michael's version is performed in the intimate Florence Gould Hall, so kids really feel like they're part of the show.
The Nutcracker: A Contemporary Ballet – Midtown West
Ailey Citigroup Theater, 405 West 55th Street at Ninth Avenue
Saturday, December 14 at 7pm; Sunday December 15 at 1:30pm and 5pm
Tickets start at $30 for adults and $20 for children
This modern version of the classic is 90 minutes long and features ballet students from the tri-state area performing alongside seasoned veterans.
Nutcracker: A Contemporary Look – Union Square
Salvatore Capezio Theater at Peridance, 126 East 13th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues
Saturday, December 14 at 4:30 and 7:30pm; Sunday, December 15 at 2:30 and 5:30pm
$40 on Saturday evening; $30 for adults and $15 for children ages 3 and up for other performances
Another modern spin on the beloved ballet, this 90-minute production is choreographed by Igal Perry and features minimalist sets and large-scale visual projections.
The Colonial Nutcracker – Flatbush
Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts, Walt Whitman Theatre at Brooklyn College, 2900 Campus Road near Kenilworth Place
Sunday, December 15 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 is a wonderful holiday experience for children ages 4 and up.
Brighton Ballet Theater/School of Russian American Ballet – Manhattan Beach
Leon M. Goldstein Performing Arts Center, Kingsborough Community College, 2001 Oriental Boulevard near Decatur Avenue
Saturday, December 21 at 6:30pm
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.
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker – Upper West Side
David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza at 63rd Street
Friday, November 29-Saturday, January 4, times vary. Visit the website for a complete schedule.
Tickets start at $34 for non-peak and go up to $254 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.