Nine ways to see ‘The Nutcracker’ ballet in Connecticut this 2021 holiday season

“The Nutcracker,” an 1892 ballet originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with an incredible score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, is a beloved Christmas tradition for many.

Adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann’s story, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” the story follows a girl who befriends a nutcracker that comes to life on Christmas Eve and wages a battle against the evil Mouse King. Once again, The New York city Ballet is staging it's classic production of George Balanchine's "The Nutcracker," but you don't have to trek all the way to the city to catch the show.

This holiday season, Connecticut has a number of different chances to see the notable ballet with different companies at a host of venues around the state. Interpretations range from classic to hip hop, and even some Connecticut-centric reimaginings.

The Danbury Music Centre will present "The Nutcracker" Dec. 10-12.

The Danbury Music Centre will present "The Nutcracker" Dec. 10-12.

Danbury Music Centre/Contributed photo

Danbury — Classic ballet

After transitioning to a virtual performance last year, Arthur Fredric, Danbury Music Centre’s artistic director, said he is thrilled to be bringing the annual performance back to the stage — a tradition that’s been going on for more than 50 years.

The Danbury Music Centre’s “The Nutcracker” will boast more than 200 dancers from the greater Danbury area, and features a children’s chorus accompanied by the Danbury Symphony Orchestra. The ballet will be held at Danbury High School.

The show runs at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 10; 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., Dec. 11; and 3 p.m., Dec. 12. Tickets are $35.

Hartford — Local take on the classic

Ballet Theatre Company’s production of “The Nutcracker” will take the stage at the Bushnell Performing Arts Center in Hartford, and feature original choreography by artistic director, Stephanie Dattellas. Lauren Lovette, a former New York City Ballet principal dancer, stars as the Sugar Plum Fairy, while Gonzalo Garcias performs as her gallant Cavalier.

The performance celebrates the 20th anniversary of the holiday classic by the company, and audiences can look forward to local historical references woven into the narrative, as well as fresh production designs including a decadent Mother Ginger and three-dimensional, immersive projection.

The show will run at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., Dec. 11, and 2 p.m., Dec. 12. Tickets start at $48.

Hartford and New Haven — 'Hip Hop Nutcracker'

For something a little different, hip hop pioneer Kurtis “The Breaks” Blow leads a cast of a dozen all-star dancers, an on-stage DJ and an electric violinist in a “Hip Hop Nutcracker,” turning the ballet’s score on its head.

The re-mixed and re-imagined version of the classic show going on a journey that celebrates love, community and the magic of the holiday season.

Hip Hop Nutcrackers plays The Bushnell’s William H. Mortensen Hall in Hartford at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 17. Tickets begin at $23.

The show also plays the Shubert Theatre in New Haven at 7 p.m., Dec. 23. Tickets begin at $40.

New Haven — Classic ballet

The New Haven Ballet, led by artistic director Lisa Sanborn, will present its version of the family-friendly holiday classic at the Shubert Theatre. “The Nutcracker” will feature the students of the ballet school and star principal dancers Luciana Paris as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Simon Wexler as Cavalier, and Alejandro Ulloa as the Snow King.

“This year’s performance feels emotional because New Haven Ballet has not performed before a live audience since 2019,” said artistic director Lisa Kim Sanborn. “As dancers, we are excited to connect with an audience and share the unique experience only the people present in the theater at that moment in time experience together. We will never again take for granted the privilege and honor of performing.”

The show will run at 7 p.m., Dec. 17; 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., Dec. 18; and 1 p.m., Dec. 19. Tickets range from $56-96.

The Eastern Connecticut Ballet will present its annual production of “The Nutcracker” at The Garde Arts Center Dec. 11-12. 

The Eastern Connecticut Ballet will present its annual production of “The Nutcracker” at The Garde Arts Center Dec. 11-12. 

Thromas Girior Photography/ Eastern Connecticut Ballet/ Contributed photo

New London — Set in Connecticut, guests from NYC Ballet

The Eastern Connecticut Ballet will present its annual production of “The Nutcracker” at The Garde Arts Center and is taking a hybrid approach.

“We’ve taken this opportunity to take our kids back on stage and done it in the safest way possible,” said Jenna Berloni, project coordinator. “The first act has been filmed. We did that so our youngest dancers, who are 6 years old, could still be a part of the production. We had masks made to match their costumes and distanced the kids so they were spread out in the theatre.”

Then, in a moment of “hybrid magic,” Berloni said the ballet’s older dancers and guest artists will be dancing live for the second act in front of nautical-theme sets that celebrate southeastern Connecticut’s seafaring past as the stage is transformed into a wintry day in New London during the 1850s.

This year, a trio of guest artists from the New York City Ballet will star with Sara Mearns playing the Sugarplum Fairy, and dancers Russell Janzen and Unity Phelan also taking part.

The show will run at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., Dec. 11, and 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Dec. 12. Tickets start at $29.

Ridgefield — Classic ballet

The Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance will star in a production of “The Nutcracker” at the Ridgefield Playhouse.

“We are excited to be back at the Ridgefield Playhouse performing live,” said Polly Kingsbury, educational director. “Our new director, Mary Beth Hansohn, has extensive performing experience and has challenged our dancers with exciting new choreography.”

The show will be held 7 p.m., Dec. 10.; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Dec. 11; and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Dec. 12. Tickets range from $20-$30. For more information, visit ridgefieldplayhouse.org.

The Playhouse will also hold a theatrical viewing of “The Nutcracker” by the noted Bolshoi Ballet at 7 p.m., Dec. 22.

Stamford — Guests from NYC Ballet, American Ballet Theatre

The Palace Theatre will present the holiday staple with members from Connecticut Ballet and special guests.

Unity Phelan and Jovani Furlan of New York City Ballet, and Gillian Murphy and Blaine Hoven of the American Ballet Theatre will alternate in the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. The professional company will be joined by 105 local children from a dozen local dance schools and academies. There will be meet-and-greet opportunities with the performers after the show.

The show will run at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., Dec. 18; and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., Dec. 19. Tickets range from $50-$70.

Torrington — Classic Ballet

Torrington’s Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory, under the direction of Victoria Mazzarelli, will present six performances at The Warner Theatre. This event has long been a staple of the Torrington community. The majesty of Tchaikovsky’s music combines with a talented cast to make Torrington’s Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory’s annual “Nutcracker” a treat for all ages, Mazzarelli said.

“We only use our students; no guest artists except a professional stage actor who plays our Drosselmeyer,” said Victoria Mazzarelli, associate art director of the Conservatory. “He brings a whole other level of telling the story and has been teaching the students what it means to be on stage and bring the story to life.”

The show will run at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Dec. 11; 2 p.m., Dec. 12; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Dec. 18; and 2 p.m., Dec. 19. Tickets start at $24.

The Woodbury Ballet's production of "The Nutcracker" will be performed at The Palace in Waterbury Dec. 11-12 and Dec. 18-19. 

The Woodbury Ballet's production of "The Nutcracker" will be performed at The Palace in Waterbury Dec. 11-12 and Dec. 18-19. 

Courtesy of the Woodbury Ballet

Waterbury — Classic ballet

The Woodbury Ballet will present its version of “The Nutcracker” at The Palace Theater in Waterbury, with innovative choreography by artistic director Randyl Errica. From the opening party scene to the magical life-sized dancing dolls to a whirlwind of falling snow, the dancer’s grand leaps, exquisite pirouettes, and intriguing port de bras entice the viewer into the magical world of “The Nutcracker,” Errica said. 

“What’s special about this year is that the performance is a celebration of bringing live theater back to audiences,” Errica said. “Nutcracker is a holiday tradition and a family favorite. It’s for the young and young at heart. The magic of this production with the setting of the beautiful Palace Theater will get you in the spirit of the season.”

The show will run at 4 p.m., Dec. 11; 2 p.m., Dec. 12; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Dec. 18; and 2 p.m., Dec. 19. Tickets range from $28-$48.