Where to see The Nutcracker ballet in NYC

Decide which version of the holiday classic is right for you with help from our guide to The Nutcracker ballet in NYC
New York City Ballet: George Balanchine's The Nutcracker
Photograph: Courtesy Paul Kolnik New York City Ballet: George Balanchine's The Nutcracker
By Helen Shaw and Adam Feldman |
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December in New York abounds with opportunities to see The Nutcracker ballet, which for dance fans is always among the best Christmas shows around. Whether you’re an old hand (you went as Drosselmeyer to your last fancy-dress ball) or a total newbie (you keep wondering what ballerinas have against nuts), the city caters to every taste: Options range from the rigorous beauty of New York City Ballet’s marquee classic to a hip-hop rendition and Company XIV's down-and-dirty, NSFW Nutcracker Rouge. ’Tis the season to gorge on sugarplums.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Christmas in NYC

Nutcracker ballet in NYC

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New York City Ballet: George Balanchine's The Nutcracker
Photograph: Courtesy Paul Kolnik
Dance, Ballet

New York City Ballet: George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

icon-location-pin Upper West Side
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This magical 1954 production, set to Tchaikovsky's incredible score, includes the full New York City Ballet company and two casts of School of American Ballet students, as well as an onstage blizzard and a Christmas tree that grows from 12 to 40 feet. In the end, however, Balanchine's choreography is what holds it all together. It's enchanting.

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Nutcracker Rouge
Photograph: Courtesy Mark Shelby Perry
Dance

Company XIV: Nutcracker Rouge

icon-location-pin Bushwick
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Austin McCormick and his risqué neo-Baroque dance-theater group Company XIV present a lavish erotic reimagining of the classic holiday tale, complete with circus performers, operatic singers and partial nudity.

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Dances Patrelle: The Yorkville Nutcracker
Photograph: Courtesy Rosalie O'Connor
Dance, Ballet

Dances Patrelle: The Yorkville Nutcracker

icon-location-pin Lenox Hill
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The company offers its annual performance of The Yorkville Nutcracker, set in 1895 New York. This year once again features guests Abi Stafford and Ask la Cour—both of whom have been New York City Ballet principals—as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier; Maximilien Baud and Therese Wendler perform the Snow Pas de Deux.

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Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker
Photograph: Courtesy Moscow Ballet
Dance, Ballet

Moscow Ballet: Great Russian Nutcracker

icon-location-pin Brooklyn
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Moscow Ballet's take on Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, choreographed by Stanislav Vlasov, departs from the standard version with a second act that takes Masha and the Prince to the Land Of Peace and Harmony instead of the traditional Sugar Plum Fairy. Its centerpiece is "Dove of Peace," in which two performers play a single bird with a wingspan of 20 feet.

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New York Theatre Ballet: Keith Michael's The Nutcracker
Photograph: Courtesy Julieta Cervantes
Dance

New York Theatre Ballet: Keith Michael's The Nutcracker

icon-location-pin Upper East Side
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NYTB presents a family-friendly, hour-long Art Nouveau version of the holiday ballet, complete with clockwork elves and an owl that flies over the audience.The set design is by Gillian Bradshaw-Smith and the costumes by Sylvia Taalsohn Nolan.

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Mark Morris Dance Group, The Hard Nut
Photograph: Courtesy Julieta Cervantes
Dance, Ballet

Mark Morris Dance Group: The Hard Nut

icon-location-pin Fort Greene
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With its 1970s setting, comic-book–style art design and cross-dressing lyrical dancers, this is one of the kookiest productions of The Nutcracker. Using the entirety of Tchaikovsky’s composition and including a section from the original E.T.A. Hoffmann story that even the original version of the ballet left out, Mark Morris Dance Group’s annual take is still fresh and very, very fun, especially after a few boozy hot cocoas during intermission.

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The Hip Hop Nutcracker
Photograph: Courtesy Hip Hop Nutcracker
Dance, Hip-hop

The Hip Hop Nutcracker

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Tchaikovsky's ballet gets a facelift as rap icon Kurtis Blow MCs a ferocious contemporary reimagining with hip-hop dancers, digital projection and a beat-driven score. 

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