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George Balanchine's The Nutcracker
Photograph: Paul Kolnik George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

NYC Ballet cancels The Nutcracker and the rest of its fall season

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There will be no Nutcracker this holiday season.

The New York City Ballet announced on Thursday that its fall 2020 season is canceled, which includes its annual engagement of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker.

The NYCB is the latest cultural institution to announce a major cancelation. Just a few weeks ago, the Metropolitan Opera said it was canceling the first few months of the 2020-21 season with plans to reopen its doors with a gala on December 31, 2020.

NYCB's season was supposed to begin September 22 and continue through October 18 at Lincoln Center, but it executives had to make the call to cancel because of the ongoing health crisis, they said.

"We are devastated to cancel another ten weeks of performances, including New York City Ballet’s annual fall season and beloved holiday performances of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker," said Brown and Stafford in a statement. "However, the health and safety of our artists, staff, and audiences is our number one priority during the ongoing pandemic. Based on advice and guidelines from government officials and medical professionals, it has become clear that it will not be safe through the end of the year for large groups to gather safely indoors and for our artists to rehearse and interact as they would need to in order to present live performances."

The fall season would have been the first programmed by NYCB's new leadership team: Artistic Director Jonathan Stafford, Associate Artistic Director Wendy Whelan, and Resident Choreographer and Artistic Advisor Justin Peck.

All three expressed "heartbreak" at the turn of events.

"I am especially disappointed that new commissions from choreographers Sidra Bell and Andrea Miller, both of whom were scheduled to make their first-ever works for NYCB for the fall gala, will not take place as planned," said Whelan. "However, I am thrilled that Sidra and Andrea have agreed to return for our 2021 Fall Season, and I can’t wait to have these remarkable women in NYCB’s rehearsal studios creating new work with our beautiful dancers."

The cancelation of The Nutcracker is particularly hard because hundreds of students who attend the two free matinees of the show won't be seeing it this year and kids from the School of American Ballet who look forward to performing in it each season won't be able to.

"It is tremendously disheartening that so many young people will not have these experiences this year," Stafford said.

Going forward, NYCB hopes to pick up with its 2021 Winter Season, starting January 19. It will also continue to present digital programs in lieu of the fall season.

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