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Megan Fairchild, center, as the Dewdrop in “The Nutcracker"
Photograph: Erin BaianoNew York City Ballet: The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker is back in NYC for 2021 and here's where to see it

Find a version of the holiday classic that is right for you with our 2021 guide to the many Nutcracker ballets in NYC

Adam Feldman
Written by
Adam Feldman
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There's more than one way to crack a nut! December in New York abounds with opportunities to see The Nutcracker ballet, which for dance fans is always among the best Christmas shows around. After a year off for the pandemic, most of the biggest Nutcracker options are returning in 2021, including New York City Ballet’s iconic Balanchine production and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular (which includes a number devoted to the Nutcracker story). Here are this year's ways to get your sugarplum fix.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Christmas in NYC

Nutcracker Ballet in 2021

  • Dance
  • Ballet
  • Upper West Side

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.

Note: Tickets go on sale to the general public on October 11, 2021.

  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • Midtown West

You’ll get a kick out of this holiday stalwart, which still features Santa, wooden soldiers and the dazzling Rockettes. In recent years, new music, more eye-catching costumes and advanced technology have been introduced to bring audience members closer to the performance. Whatever faults one may find with this awesomely lavish annual pageant (it's basically a celebration of the virtues of shopping), this show has legs. And what legs! In the signature kick line that finds its way into most of the big dance numbers, the Rockettes’ 36 flawless pairs of gams rise and fall like the batting of an eyelash, their perfect unison a testament to the disciplined human form. This is precision dancing on a massive scale—a Busby Berkeley number come to glorious life—and it takes your breath away.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular

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  • Dance
  • Contemporary and experimental
  • Flatbush

Brooklyn Ballet's take on The Nutcracker, choreographed by artistic director Lynn Parkerson, emphasizes cultural and artistic diversity. Alongside sequences that hew to the classic 19th-century tradition are interludes featuring street dance, flamenco, belly dancing, Chinese dance, hoop dance and hip-hop. The cast of this year's edition includes Aliesha Bryan, the Red Dance Studio Chinese Dancers, Sira Melikian, ShanDien LaRance and Michael “Big Mike” Fields.

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  • Dance
  • Ballet
  • Lenox Hill

Dances Patrelle offers its annual performance of The Yorkville Nutcracker, set in 1895 New York and featuring adorable child dancers alongside the professionals. This year's 25th annual edition once again features Abi Stafford—a longtime New York City Ballet star who left the company in September—as the Sugar Plum Fairy, joined this time by current NYCB principal Jared Angle as her Cavalier.

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  • Dance
  • Contemporary and experimental
  • Tribeca

Choreographer David Parker and his Bang Group reprise their neovaudevillian version of The Nutcracker, a comedic deconstruction of the holiday classic that mixes tap, ballet, contemporary dance and disco. The cast for this 19th annual production includes students from Steffi Nossen School of Dance and e.g. dance.

  • Dance
  • Hip-hop
  • New Jersey

This production interprets the classic with hip-hop choreography and an updated version of the holiday story; directed and choreographed by Jennifer Weber and adapted by Mike Fitelson, the production features onstage DJs, an amped-up version of the Tchaikovsky score and a short opening act by rap pioneer Kurtis Blow. (The show plays at NJPAC on December 18 and then at Brooklyn's Kings Theater on December 19.)

Looking for more fun holiday events?

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