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.
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Watch the Nutcracker ballet in NYC
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.
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. The word nutcracker has customarily conjured innocent wonder; now be ready to add glitter pasties, stripper poles and comically large stuffed penises to the toys in wonderland. Definitely leave the kids at home.
State Ballet Theatre of Russia, the touring name of the Voronezh State Theatre of Opera and Ballet, brings its version of the beloved Tchaikovsky holiday classic to New York for a single night. The choreography is by Marius Petipa.
Now in its 14th year, Charles Rice-González's holiday play—which subverts The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol—imagines a queer Latino couple caught in a journey through time one trippy Christmas eve. Witness ’80s flashbacks, Martha Stewart dinner parties and plenty of angelic divas to light the way.
After a five-year hiatus, choreographer David Parker and his Bang Group resurrect their neovaudevillian version of The Nutcracker, a comedic deconstruction of the holiday classic that mixes tap, ballet, contemporary dance and disco. The cast includes teen dancers from the Dalton School (at evening performances) and the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (at the Saturday matinee).