Beyond Nutcracker: A Diverse Winter Ballet Season Takes the Stage

From reimagined fairy tales to world premieres, ballet companies showcase a range of performances this holiday season.

The Nutcracker, with its iconic score and timeless story, has long been synonymous with the holiday season. However, this winter, ballet companies around the world are offering audiences a refreshing array of performances that go beyond the traditional Nutcracker. From world premieres to reimagined fairy tales, these productions promise to captivate audiences with their creativity and innovation. Let’s take a closer look at some of the highlights of the 2023 winter ballet season.

Smuin Contemporary Ballet: The Christmas Ballet
San Francisco’s Smuin Contemporary Ballet kicks off the season with their annual program, The Christmas Ballet. Composed of two acts, “The Classical Christmas” and “The Cool Christmas,” this production features a mix of new dances and popular favorites. From classical ballet to jazz-inspired pieces, The Christmas Ballet offers something for everyone. The program runs from November 18th to December 24th at various locations in the Bay Area.

Post:Ballet and Berkeley Ballet Theater: Nutcracker
Post:Ballet and Berkeley Ballet Theater join forces to present a brand-new Nutcracker with a nature-filled twist. Choreographed by Robin Dekker, this adaptation introduces protagonists Clara and Charlie, who embark on a magical journey guided by a Nutcracker Bird. The production features stunning visuals and includes performances by San Francisco drag artist Grace Towers. Don’t miss this enchanting performance from December 1st to 3rd in the Bay Area.

Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater: The Polar Express
New Jersey’s Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater brings Chris Van Allsburg’s beloved children’s book, The Polar Express, to life in a world premiere ballet. Choreographed by Gabriel Chajnik, this production combines live dancing with projections to tell the heartwarming story of a young boy’s magical train ride to the North Pole. The cast includes company dancers and Axelrod Academy students, with guest performer Robert Taylor Jr. as The Conductor. The Polar Express runs from December 1st to 10th at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center.

Finnish National Ballet: A Christmas Carol
The Finnish National Ballet presents the world premiere of Sir David Bintley’s A Christmas Carol. Set in 19th-century London, this adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale features a new score by composer Sally Beamish and stunning costumes and sets by Anna Fleischle. With an all-British creative team, this production promises to transport audiences into the heart of the holiday season. Don’t miss A Christmas Carol, running from December 1st to 30th at the Helsinki opera house.

Wonderbound: Icy Haught
Denver-based Wonderbound brings a steaming hot production to the stage with Icy Haught. Choreographed by artistic director Garrett Ammon and associate choreographer Sarah Tallman, this unconventional holiday ballet weaves together frosty and saucy numbers for a night of unexpected delights. Experience the heat of Icy Haught from December 7th to 17th at Wonderbound’s resident performance space.

Deos Contemporary Ballet: Cracked Nuts
Grand Rapids’ Deos Contemporary Ballet presents Cracked Nuts: Not Your Mother’s Nutcracker, a comedy ballet created exclusively for adults. Artistic director Tess Sinke takes audiences on a hilarious journey through an office Christmas party gone wrong. With a punch-drunk Clara as the protagonist, this production promises laughter and entertainment. Join the festivities on December 15th at the Michigan Ballet Academy.

Ballet Co.Laboratory: Nutcracker in Wonderland
Ballet Co.Laboratory of St. Paul, Minnesota, presents Nutcracker in Wonderland, a unique fusion of Tchaikovsky’s classic Nutcracker and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Artistic director Zoé Emilie Henrot’s choreography brings together beloved characters from both stories, as Clara and Alice navigate the enchanting Land of Snowflakes and Wonderland. Don’t miss this whimsical production from December 8th to 10th.

Scottish Ballet: Cinders!
Scottish Ballet offers a fresh take on the classic Cinderella story with Cinders! Choreographed by artistic director Christopher Hampson, this world premiere production features a unique twist. The lead role of Cinders will be performed by both a woman and a man on different nights, with their respective Prince or Princess awaiting them at the end of the night. With Art Nouveau-inspired sets and costumes and live music by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra, Cinders! promises to be a magical experience. Catch the performances from December 9th to 31st at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal and beyond.

Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo: L’Enfant et les Sortilèges
Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo presents the world premiere of Jean-Christophe Maillot’s ballet L’Enfant et les Sortilèges. Based on Maurice Ravel’s opera, this ballet tells the story of a young boy who learns a valuable lesson from his animated toys. With 240 artists on stage, including dancers, musicians, and singers, this production is a true spectacle. Experience the magic from December 20th to 24th at Monaco’s Grimaldi Forum.


This winter season, ballet companies are pushing the boundaries of tradition and offering audiences a diverse range of performances. From reimagined classics to world premieres, these productions showcase the creativity and innovation of the ballet world. Whether you prefer a whimsical journey through Wonderland or a steamy and unconventional holiday ballet, there is something for everyone to enjoy. So, grab your tickets and prepare to be transported into a world of magic and enchantment this holiday season.






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