​After a virtual production in 2020, New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker will make an in-person return this year, with nearly 50 performances scheduled for the holiday season. 

The annual event – a staple of New York’s festive scene – kicks off November 26 at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and runs through January 2. It features a cast and crew of 300-plus, including 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 40 stagehands and more than 125 children (all ages 12 and up for COVID-19 safety reasons) from the School of American Ballet, as well as scenery by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, costumes by Karinska, lighting by Mark Stanley, a world-famous score by Peter Tschaikovsky and ​​choreography by the legendary George Balanchine.

A male and female dancer performing a pas de deux during the NYCB's Nutcracker
Performances begin November 26 at Lincoln Centero © Erin Baiano

The original 1954 production was directed and choreographed by Balanchine himself and has long been considered a masterpiece of dance theater and a signature holiday event. Aside from last year’s streaming event, filmed during the company’s 2019 season at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center and aired after the pandemic forced the NYCB to cancel its 2020 season, the Nutcracker has been performed every year without fail since it debuted 67 years ago. 

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It may be familiar material, but the 2021 production has some surprises in store, from the onstage snowstorm to the massive Christmas tree (which undergoes an even bigger growth spurt) to the seriously high-wattage finale. 

A group of female dancers on stage, dressed in pink
COVID-19 safety protocols are in place for the holiday season © Erin Baiano

Also new this year are the COVID-19 protocols: all attendees ages 12 and up will be required to show proof of vaccination to enter, while children under 12 and adults unvaccinated due to medical or religious reasons can show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the performance instead.  

Tickets start at US$45. For more information or to book, visit nycballet.com.

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This article was first published Dec 8, 2020 and updated Nov 19, 2021.

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