It wouldn’t be the holidays without a performance of The Nutcracker, and a number of productions grace the East End winter calendar. Character names and select details may change, but the basic plotline tells the same, beloved tale.
“Nutcracker, for many adults and children, is an event that defines the tradition and magic of the season,” says Sara Jo Strickland, the director of the Hampton Ballet Theatre School. The timeless show means even more for the people involved in the production. Many ballet schools perform the show annually, and the desire to land certain roles instills a work ethic in kids as they continue to dance from year to year. “They look forward, with great excitement, to performing the next role ‘up’ and they may wait years for their dream role,” continues Strickland. “Therefore, it keeps them focused on how to get there, and they work hard in classes and rehearsals to reach their goals.”
With a score by famed Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker is the story of Clara, who receives a nutcracker from her godfather Drosselmeyer on Christmas Eve. Later that night, Clara sneaks down into the living room and helps the Nutcracker win a magical battle against the evil Mouse King. The toy transforms into a prince and leads Clara through a snowflake-filled pine forest into the land of sweets, ruled by the benevolent Sugar Plum Fairy. Various candies dance for Clara and the Nutcracker Prince in thanks. As the ballet ends, audience members are left to question whether Clara’s experience was a dream or reality.
To get into the holiday spirit, check out these Nutcrackers on the East End:
The Hampton Ballet Theatre School
at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street, East Hampton
The sixth-annual production of the Hampton Ballet Theatre School’s The Nutcracker will run at Guild Hall from December 12–14. Kids from ages 4–18 participate in this traditional take on the classic ballet. For more information, call 631-237-4810 or visit hamptonballettheatreschool.com
Peconic Ballet Theatre
at WHBPAC, 76 Main Street, Westhampton Beach
The annual production of The Nutcracker is the culmination of a 12-week residency program with Dancecore and features students and professional dancers at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center. The show runs December 13–14. For more info, visit whbpac.org or peconicballettheatre.org.
Seiskaya Ballet at the Staller Center
at Stony Brook University Staller Center, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook
One of Long Island’s most lavish productions of the ballet returns to the Staller Center at Stony Brook University from December 19–22. Choreographed by the famous Valia Seiskaya, this show has been crafted by acclaimed artists and dancers from all over the world. For more information, visit nutcrackerballet.com.
Dance Studio 3’s “Mixed Nuts” Dance Show
at Bay Street Theater, 1 Bay Street, Sag Harbor
In a twist on the traditional ballet, Dance Studio 3 presents Mixed Nuts, where The Nutcracker meets The Grinch with hilarious effect. The show incorporates a variety of dance styles—tap, jazz, lyrical and hip-hop. Mixed Nuts runs from December 19–20. For more information, visit dancestudio3.com or call 631-537-3008.