Celebrating the Holidays with the Nutcracker

By guest writer: Alex Benson

I grew up in Houston, where first class entertainment was readily available and still to this day is thriving. One of my earliest holiday memories was attending the Houston Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker. Now that I live in Los Angeles, I have continued the tradition with my own wife. I have attended so many incredible productions through the years. It never gets old. I love watching families with children…the excitement in their eyes. It brings me back to the joy of my own childhood.

Los Angeles Ballet; photo courtesy of LAB

The Los Angeles Ballet has been making its mark since 2004, and I have attended several productions. This company is one of my all time favorites. Created by Artistic Directors Thordal Christensen, Colleen Neary, and Executive Director Julie Whittaker, this professional company is made up of extremely talented dancers. Although the company does not have a home theater, it has performed at various venues throughout Los Angeles including: Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Royce Hall at UCLA, Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, the historic Alex Theatre in Glendale, The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, and the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.

The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet presents a thrilling production. I attended a show a couple years back while I was visiting Colorado. There is a production (happening Dec 2019) at the Soraya in Northridge. This is a visually spectacular show, and my wife Julie’s favorite.

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet; photo courtesy of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet

Many of these productions tour throughout the U.S., so If you live in a big city, you’ll have the chance to attend in your hometown. The Moscow Ballet also puts on an exceptional version of this classic. Featuring 40 Vaganova-trained ballerinas and dancers, the website has a full list of venues, where the Moscow Ballet will be performing the Nutcracker during the months of November and December.

Another stunning presentation is put on by the Miami City Ballet. I attended a show in 2018 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown LA. I absolutely loved this performance. Read a review on ETG’s sister site LAArtParty.com

The Miami City Ballet; photo courtesy of the Miami City Ballet

Red Chair Productions puts an entirely new spin on the legendary tale. Utilizing young artists, (ages 5 to 18) to take on both principal and supporting roles, it is a magical experience. It makes perfect sense, when you see the Sugar Plum Fairy and the debonair Nutcracker Prince, the land of sweets, and the life-size mice scurrying about.

Julie is NOT into the arts as much as me, but as my wife puts it, ”Every year, I love watching you become a child again.” Make someone you love happy…start your own Nutcracker holiday tradition.

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