Nutcracker season is upon us! Tchaikovsky’s music is a soundtrack for the winter, Clara’s nutcracker reminds you how magical your favorite toys used to be, and her holiday party is a fantasy model for event planning! How rare for one story to contain so many touchstones—and so many of them known by your dancing preschoolers!
The Bay Area boasts a few local Nutcracker events and productions designed for kids and families. The family productions I mention below either star dance students or are abbreviated productions of Tchaikovsky’s ballet, condensed to favor kids with shorter attention spans. A few even offer teas or photo ops with the cast!
- San Jose Nutcracker is performing “My Very First Nutcracker” on a few mornings mid December at the new Hammer Theater downtown. It’s an abbreviated production focusing on the first act, performed by professionals and dance students from the New Ballet School. This is a new event so I can’t vouch for it personally, but it sounds promising.
- The Academy of American Ballet hosts a Nutcracker Family Event at Redwood City’s Fox Theater. The dancers are primarily Academy students (a great school, run by the marvelous Julia Dugan). The production is managed by a non-profit called Ballet America that holds open auditions for the production every year! (This is a great thing to remember if your child catches the performance bug: dreaming about the roles you want to dance really fuels a work ethic.)
- Also at the Fox Theater is Peninsula Ballet Theater’s “Nutcracker Sweet,” This 45-minute production has special adjoining teas following the show. The company also does an annual production of Prokofiev’s Cinderella and has a functioning conservatory. They have some wonderful teachers!
- My favorite of the Nutcracker events is San Francisco Ballet’s Family Performances. You can even attend a Family Performance that includes a visit from costumed characters from the production. Do dress well! As a side note: SFB also has myriad Youth Programs for kids 6 and over, and an Enchantment Fund designed to bring underserved children to the ballet. They also have a Nutcracker Storybook App you can download here.
If other worthy events arise, I’ll be sure to let you know!
The Nutcracker is a wonderful way to introduce children to the magic of ballet, no matter how you choose to enjoy it!