I am a staunch no-Christmas-before-Thanksgiving believer. But I will confess that I have the teensiest bit of Christmas on the brain already, because it is almost time for The Nutcracker! There is just something about the iconic ballet that always puts me in the Christmas spirit…even if it’s still November.
In addition to loving the magic of this time of year, I just really love dance. Even though I never took ballet lessons–I prefer tap, for the record–I have a great appreciation for the art form and really enjoy watching it. The great thing about The Nutcracker is that since it is so kid-friendly, it is a great way to introduce children to the arts. Plus, there is not much cuter than little kids dressed up in their fanciest attire for a show at the theater.
So, if you are ready to share with your children something more meaningful than giant inflatable snow globes at the hardware store to signal the beginning of the holiday season, then you are in luck, because Memphis has a number of ballet companies and schools to show us the way.
Nut Remix New Ballet Ensemble
This is my all-time favorite Nutcracker production (and not just because my daughters are in it). What makes this version so great is that it is pure Memphis. There is plenty of ballet dancing to be sure, but where else in the world can you go to The Nutcracker and also be dazzled by a hip hop battle, Spanish guitar and flamenco, West African drumming, and a nearly unbelievable style of dance known as jookin’? 2022 marks the 20th anniversary of this production and promises to have plenty of surprises in store.
November 26-27, Cannon Center for the Performing Arts https://newballet.org/nutremix/
Nutcracker: Land of Enchanted Sweets Buckman Dance Conservatory
If you’re worried that your little one won’t be able to sit still for an entire ballet, this interpretation of The Nutcracker might fit the bill. With a run-time of approximately an hour, “Land of Enchanted Sweets” still tells the classic story but in a fun new way. This production features dancers from St. Mary’s Episcopal School’s Buckman Dance Conservatory.
December 2-4, Buckman Performing & Fine Arts Center https://www.purplepass.com/#u45119/Buckman_Arts_Center_at_St._Mary’s_School.html
Clara & The Nutcracker Children’s Ballet Theater
As the name of the East Memphis dance troupe implies, this is a performance featuring children (and teens). But just because the majority of the cast consists of amateur dancers doesn’t mean that the quality won’t be top-notch. Your aspiring dancer might even be able to envision her/himself up on stage after attending.
December 2-4, Cannon Center for the Performing Arts https://www.childrensballettheater.com/basic-01
The Nutcracker Ballet Esprit de Corps Dance Troupe
Bartlett isn’t about to let Memphis proper have all the fun. The Singleton Community Center Esprit de Corps dance troupe’s rendition of The Nutcracker includes all of the classic elements of the ballet–from Clara to the Sugar Plum Fairy–at a more affordable price point. Definitely worth a trip outside the loop for stubborn Midtowners like me!
December 16-18, Bartlett Performing Arts Center https://bpacc.org/444/The-Nutcracker
Nutcracker Ballet Memphis
If a full-length classical performance is what you are looking for, this annual production is the one for you. Performed on the beautiful Orpheum stage by Ballet Memphis’s professional company and backed by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, this version is the traditional Nutcracker of your dreams. In fact, this production is such a strong tradition that in 2020 (the year we’d all like to forget), Ballet Memphis filmed a performance that was then shown on local PBS station WKNO as a gift to the city. Go to the ballet and support local artists!
December 16-18, Orpheum Theater https://balletmemphis.org/nutcracker
The Nutcracker 2022
Their full-length ballet features the company dancers of the Collierville Ballet with professional guest artists performing the lead roles of the Snow Queen and Snow King and Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier. Enjoy the enchanting classical score by Tchaikovsky and share in the delight of this holiday classic and Collierville tradition with the Collierville Ballet.
Decemner 17-18, The Harrell Theater https://colliervilleballet.ticketleap.com/nutcracker-2022/
I hope you and your family enjoy one (or more!) of these performances this holiday season. Be forewarned, however, that in addition to having Tchaikovsky’s score embedded in your brain, it will likely encourage your children to dance their own version in your living room for days afterward.