A listing of “The Nutcracker” performances (and more) in the Baltimore/Washington area this season.
As my grand-nephew, niece and I watched two productions of “The Nutcracker” this past weekend, it was obvious to me that we were seeing completely different things in the ballet. I noticed that young Clara appeared fragile in the arms of the Nutcracker prince. Finn seemed mesmerized by the tiny mice and funny looking soldiers. Camper laughed heartedly when Clara walloped the Mouse King with her slipper and smiled again when the snowflakes began to fall.
Which got me thinking. What difference does it make if a piece of the headdress falls on stage in the middle of a dance? Or a tiny-mouse wiggles off in the wrong direction? It’s the wonder only a child sees on stage that keeps the holiday ballet alive and thriving this time of year. And more importantly than any mishap, isn’t wonderful we are able to see live dance again?
Danced to the beautiful Tchaikovsky score, “The Nutcracker” is a child’s entrance into the fantasy world of dance. The magic of the Kingdom of Sweet, trees that grow, snowflakes and funny mice that battle with equally funny soldiers, is enchanting. The real story, however, is that of a little girl who sees her dream become a reality.
So whether it’s a professional version with star performers, or a local production with visiting guest artists, or just some sweet little ones romping about the stage, see ‘The Nutcracker” or “Nuts,” as dancers all it, through the eyes of a child. Even the tiny tots will enjoy these holiday shows throughout the Baltimore-Washington corridor and a little beyond.
When Septime Webre was running the Washington Ballet, he came up with an especially clever “Nuts.” Set in Georgetown in 1882, this original rendition introduces George Washington as the Nutcracker Prince and George III as the Rat King. Gathered in a mansion near the White House are Frederick Douglass, John Paul Jones, Harriot Tubman and other historical figures.
For the past few years, Julie Kent has been at the helm of Washington’s premier ballet company and has kept this Americana “Nutcracker” in the repertoire. The former ABT prima ballerina has also added her own classical touches and brought back some of Mary Day’s original staging – a nod to the founding director.
This celebrated classic comes to life with intricate, stunning set designs, original period costumes, and over 100 dancers including students and trainees from The Washington School of Ballet, celebrating 75 years. The second act takes place on the banks of the Potomac with cherry blossoms in full bloom, the perfect setting for “Waltz of the Flowers.”
The Washington Ballet dances the full length “Nutcracker” at the historic Warner Theatre, 513 13th Street NW, Washington, DC now through Dec. 26. Note a Military appreciation concert Wednesday, Dec. 8. Many performances will sell out. Call 202-362-3606 or visit the website here.
Ballet Theatre of Maryland is back in full swing in Maryland’s Capital with a live performance of “The Nutcracker.” If it’s anything like the recently seen “Giselle” production, one can expect excellent acting and dancing in a highly professional production. Nicole Kelsch directs the full-length rendition of “Nuts,” with crisp choreography by former director Dianna Cuatto, and special reminders of the late Edward Stewart who founded the company in 1988.
Maryland’s premier ballet company takes the stage at Maryland Hall, 801 Chase St, Annapolis, MD 21401, Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 11 and 12 and returns Dec. 18 and 19. Can’t wait to see the “Rat Queen” cast the evil spell with performances from the company’s 38 professionals alongside 47 student and trainee dancers from BTM’s Conservatory and the local community. Call 410-224-5644 or click here.
Passing on the sweets
The late Mary Day had a tremendous impact on ballet in the Washington Metropolitan area. Her protegee, Patricia Berrend, trained at the Washington Ballet and has passed on her mentor’s gems of wisdom and delightful “Nutcracker” characters and dances – the jolly chef carrying a tiny cook upside down with a dangling chocolate spoon remains one of my favorite moments.
For information on the Olney Ballet Theater performances, classes, and a “Tea Party With Clara,” contact the folks at the Berrend Dance Centre 9264 Gaither Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20877.
The Metropolitan Ballet Theatre celebrates the holiday season in its full-length, traditional “Nutcracker” with a Christmas tree that seemingly grows forever, and the usual assortment of marching toy soldiers, giant mice, snowflakes and sweets. Performances take place at the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center in Rockville at Montgomery College, 51 Mannakee Street, Rockville, MD Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 4 and 5, and 11 and 12. For information and tickets, go here.
Around the Beltways
The Maryland Youth Ballet offers a seasoned “Nutcracker,” thanks to the Tensia Fonseca and Michelle Lees who brought such joy to the community for so many years. Artistic Director, Olivier Muñoz carries on that tradition with fine dancing and all the wonder expected in “The Nutcracker.” See the dolls come to life and life-sized mice romp about at the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center, Montgomery College, 51 Mannakee Street, Rockville, MD Dec. 17-27. There’s also a Mini-Nut season Dec. 11 and 12. For details on “Nuts” and/or ballet classes, call 301-608-2232.
Husband and wife dance directors Jacob Rice and Kimmary Williams began their Howard County “Nutcracker” tradition with a “petite version” geared for the little ones. Now located in a large complex in Columbia, their company has expanded with advanced dancers performing solos and difficult variations in the holiday ballet.
The Sugar Plum Fairy remains the most challenging role in “The Nutcracker.” A ballerina must be secure in her classical technique and mature in her dramatic skills to excel in this role. She also must be a smart leader on stage as she endeavors to keep all those tiny sugar plum darlings from tripping over one another in the Land of Sweets.
Julie Steinberg, a junior at Centennial High School, soars as the princess in pink. Expect “oohs” and “aahs” when she gets the spotlight and wins the heart of the Nutcracker Prince.
“Passing on my love of ballet to my students and seeing the joy in their eyes is special,” says Rice, a professional dancer and popular teacher. “Fortunately, I am still able to perform. I’ve been blessed to have such longevity in this art I enjoy so much.”
The Central Maryland Youth Ballet’s production can be seen Saturday, Dec. 18, at 5 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 19, at 2 p.m. at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School Performing Arts Center, 17301 Old Vic Boulevard, Olney, MD 20832. Call 443-472-7772 or visit here.
The Rockville Civic Ballet presents “The Nutcracker” 2021 with performances December 3-12, 2021, Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 2 pm and 7:30 pm, Rockville Civic Center Park, 603 Edmonston Drive, Rockville, MD 20851Sundays at 2 pm and is SOLD OUT!
Ballet Chesapeake dances a gorgeous “Nutcracker” that has become a must-see for those who appreciate old-fashioned fantasy and pure classical technique. Artistic director Barclay Gibbs, a lovely dancer who has performed in many “Nuts,” brings her talent and knowledge to her company’s rendition Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 11 and 12, in Stephens Hall, Towson University, 7900 Stephens Avenue, Towson, MD 21204 – a perfect setting for the ballet.
Also scheduled at Stephens Hall this Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4 and 5 at 1 p.m., the Mid Atlantic Youth Ballet presents an original, full-length adaptation of “The Nutcracker” featuring landmarks, icons and culture unique to Maryland. Here we have the revelry of a Preakness Party (opening scene), the Hon Rats at the Battle of Baltimore, waltzing Black-Eyed Susan flowers, and even Poe’s Raven. For more information on the Towson-based company, call 410-663-2943 or visit here.
The Baltimore School for the Arts offers a most charming “Nuts” in Charm City. In past productions, professionals and teachers often pop up in concerts at the school’s Schaefer Ballroom. Choreographed by resident artist Amy Hall Garner, TWIGS dancers join the high school dance company Dec. 9, 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18, at the Baltimore School for the Arts, 712 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. Visit their website here.
Columbia Sweet Treats
Even if you’re already acquainted with the Snow Queen, her Cavalier and the magical Uncle Drosselmeyer, chances are you’re not used to seeing them gliding in on a wintry sheet of ice.
But glide they do when the Columbia Figure Skating Club, celebrating its 30th anniversary, performs “The Nutcracker On Ice” at the Columbia Ice Rink Saturday, Dec. 11 at 5:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12, at 4:30 and 6 p.m. The show features over 100 performers, little ones and adults, and dozens of high-level skaters.
Shows will take place at the Columbia Ice Rink, 5876 Thunder Hill Rd., Columbia, MD 21045. Advance ticket reservations are recommended, and remember to bring a blanket to snuggle the little ones. For questions related to Nutcracker ticket sales, please contact Grace Wang at Grace.firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions related to the ice show, visit ColumbiaFSCShows@gmail.com.
“The holidays are celebrated by traditions…little girls and boys who come for their first dance class at four or five grow up in this studio,” Marcia Lachman once told me. The founding director of the Arabesque Dance Company (and Columbia’s first dance teacher) emphasized her “love for children,” a philosophy that her daughter, Ginger Freint continues in her memory.
Especially adapted for children, the Arabesque dancers perform “The Nutcracker” at the Jim Rouse Theatre, Wilde Lake High School, 5460 Trumpeter Road, Columbia, MD 21044 Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 11 and 12, at 2 p.m. If you order tickets before Dec. 11, the cost is $18 (balcony) or $20 (orchestra) At the door, you pay $25, cash only. Go to this link. Following all CDC and local safety guidelines, face masks are required for all.
Cindee Velle, director of her Columbia Chamber Ballet, has a knack for putting on a terrific show, especially “The Nutcracker.” In previous years (pre-COVID) the troupe took to the road with an abbreviated performance of the holiday favorite. This season, her dancers are performing on professional stages, and tickets are selling quickly.
Highlights include Katelyn Otten as the Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy. Emily Rose Block returns as a guest dancer as Velle’s creative character, Jackie Frost. A children’s march should entertain the kids, and this year’s production will also include the battle scene with mice, soldiers, and a Mouse Queen.
It’s a near sell-out for this weekend’s shows at home-based Stonehouse in the Long Reach Village Center. 110 Foreland Garth, Columbia, MD 210456 Sundays, Dec. 5 and 11, from 3-4 p.m. 60 dancers will perform in the Great Hall at Historic Savage Mill Tuesday, Dec. 14, at 7:30 p.m. and the Black Box Theatre, Howard County Arts Center, 8510 High Ridge Rd, Ellicott City, MD 21043.
Worth the travel
Under the direction of Joyce Morrison, guest dancers from the New York City Ballet will join students from the Frederick School of Classical Ballet in the full-length “Nutcracker” at the Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 West Patrick Street, Frederick, MD 21701. The Maryland Regional Ballet performs this holiday tradition Friday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. For tickets, call the Box Office at 301-600-2828 or check out the informative www.weinbergcenter.org.
In the past few years pre-COVID, Sandra Woods, director of the Carroll County Dance Center and Ballet Conservatory, has graced us with a lovely production of “The Nutcracker.” The full-length will be danced at the Eichelberger Performing Arts Center in Hanover, PA Saturday, Dec. 18 at 1 and 4:30 p.m. The Mini Nut Performance will take place at Freedom Optimist Hall, Sykesville, MD Saturday, Dec. 11 at 1 and 4:30 p.m. Call the studio at (410) 795-3255 to purchase your tickets or visit here.
Alternatives to “Nuts”
Charm City Ballet (CCB) celebrates its sixth annual charming version of “A Christmas Carol.” CCB was voted “Best Dance Company” in MD Theatre Guide’s Best of 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards. Original scoring and choreography by Rebecca Friedman and Peter Commander capture the joy and sorrow of this familiar tale. The sets, costumes and staging, all first class.
Two performances are slated Saturday, Dec. 18th, at 1:30 and 7:30 in the Gordon Center for Performing Arts, 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave., Owings Mills, MD 21117. Call the company directors at 443-318-4902 or email email@example.com.
A troupe called Vertigo Acrobats should delight both old and young for the return of Baltimore Symphony: Cirque Nutcracker at the Joseph H. Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1201 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201 Saturday, Dec. 11, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 12, from 3 p.m. The live music should be fabulous and the performers entertaining.
Misako Ballet Company performs at a Holiday Dance Party with dance, songs and crafts for families, kids (ages 5-12) at her upstairs Dance Studio, 5485 Harpers Farm Road, Columbia, MD 21044. The fun begins Saturday, Dec. 11, starting at 3 p.m. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to pre-register.
Looking for something different this season? Check out the Momentum Dance Theatre, known for its Hip-Hop take on “The Nutcracker.” The company unveils a new show this season reflecting on the current times. “The NutcracKer’s Guide to Getting UnPlugged” takes place at GALA Hispanic Theatre, 3333 14th St. NW, Washington, DC, Saturday, Dec. 11 at 3 p.m.