Nutcracker Online Performances 2020

The annual Nutcracker season is upon us and with many theatres closed and ballet companies working at reduced capacity, you may be wondering how to get your fix of Soldiers, Snow, and Sugarplums.

The good news is that several companies are offering this traditional holiday production – or some variation of it – in other formats: online streaming, television broadcasts, and cinema showings.

The Nutcracker Online Performances 2020 list below focuses on just those that are available to a broader, global audience.

To find all Nutcracker performances – whether they be in-person, on the big screen, broadcasting on your local television channel, or online – plus information about the plot, the characters, and a Nutcracker playlist check out our dedicated Nutcracker page

And why not play our Nutcracker Quiz to test your knowledge about one of our favorite ballets?!

In the list below, those with a ❆ snowflake icon ❆ we will or we have reviewed; these can be read directly below the accompanying performance information. 

Please note that not all of these online performances are necessarily “The Nutcracker” as we are familiar with as many companies have adapted their traditional annual production in order to accommodate physical distance restrictions and/or to better suit a digital experience.

Although all of the buttons below each event say “TICKETS”, some of the companies are actually offering their productions at no cost; but they often require registration, so be sure to still click through to make sure you don’t miss a show!

Nutcracker Online Performances 2020


December 4-31, 2020

American Ballet Theatre - The Nutcracker 2020


  • Clara, The Princess: Isabella Boylston
  • Nutcracker, The Prince: James Whiteside

✧ American Ballet Theatre Nutcracker Review

The Grand Pas de Deux excerpt from Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker that American Ballet Theatre traditionally performs at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in California, is a special filming sponsored by LG. It is jam-packed with challenging and quick-paced choreography, especially in the pas de deux. To note is that for the first time in Ratmansky’s staging, the female variation includes Lev Ivanov’s 1892 original choreography.

This 10-minute free performance is a gift from America’s National Ballet Company and a wonderful way to get into the holiday spirit.


November 25 – December 27, 2020

Atlanta Ballet - The Nutcracker 2020


December 12 & 19, 2020

Ballet Arizona - The Nutcracker Suite 2020


  • Snow Queen: Rochelle Anvik
  • Snow King: Ethan Price
  • Sugar Plum Fairy: Tiffany Chatfield
  • Her Cavalier: Luis Corrales
  • Dew Drop: Rochelle Anvik

✧ Ballet Arizona Nutcracker Suite Review

This unique version of the holiday classic includes an archival party and battle narrated by company dancer Jillian Barrell. Masked snowflakes mark the beginning of a performance filmed earlier this month that then continues through to the finale. 

This entire Suite moves quickly both in overall pace and movement. Andersen’s corps scenes – snow and flowers – are particularly energetic, full of choreographic canons that are done with wonderful precision, a necessity so as to not appear a mess. They dancers are clearly well-rehearsed. 

Also to note are the strength of the male dancers. The Sugar Plum Fairy’s two pages? (there is no program credit) and the Tea and Trepak duets are all outstanding. 


December 12, 2020 – January 1, 2021

Ballet Austin - The Nutcracker 2020


December 23-26, 2020

BalletCollective - The Nutcracker at Wethersfield Streaming


December 4-27, 2020

BalletMet - A Nutcracker Holiday


  • Herr Drosselmeyer: William Newton, Austin Powers
  • Young Clara: Kaitlynn Hanna
  • Grown Up Clara: Jessica Brown, Caitlin Valentine
  • Nutcracker Prince: Michael Sayre
  • Sugar Plum Fairy: Caitlin Valentine, Grace-Anne Powers
  • Cavalier: Miguel Anaya

✧ BalletMet Nutcracker Review

This abridged version of our favorite seasonal ballet titled Clara’s Nutcracker Prince is a narrated reflection of one of our young protagonists favorite holiday memories. The only section shown in full is the pas de deux of the Grand Pas but the video and audio editing are pretty seamless making for a pleasurable viewing experience. And there is enough shown of each scene so as to not feel like measly samplings. This production is a great way to introduce young ones to both the tale and the beautiful dancing that often provokes them to become interested in ballet.

As indicated in the casting above, it appears that footage is taken from multiple performances; I did not notice this while watching, so glad that it wasn’t a distraction.

✧ Extra Features

Along with Clara’s Nutcracker Prince, A Nutcracker Holiday also features other related activities for the family such as The Nutcracker Scavenger Adventure, Holiday Crafts, Favorite Seasonal Recipes, Spotify Playlists, and Coloring Pages. This makes for a full afternoon of holiday fun!


December 24 & 25, 2020 and January 1, 2021

Ballet West Review - The Nutcracker 1218

✧ Ballet West Nutcracker Review


December 18-24, 2020

Birmingham Royal Ballet - The Nutcracker at the REP


December 17-27, 2020

Boston Ballet - The Gift


  • Grand pas de deux from The Nutcracker: Viktorina Kapitonova + Tigran Mkrtchyan
  • Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite: Boston Ballet, Boston Ballet II, and Boston Ballet School Post Graduates

✧ Boston Ballet The Gift Review

For those expecting classical ballet, the first part of this program features the Grand pas de deux from Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker. The experience is unique, though: Vitorina Kapitonova and Tigran Mkrtchyan’s costumes come with coordinating masks and they dance to Alex Foaksman’s live piano playing. It is an interesting decision to not use a recorded orchestral version of Tchaikovsky’s famous notes resulting in more of a dress rehearsal vibe than that of a performance.

Segueing the classical to the contemporary is Eric Jackson, aka the “Dean of Boston Jazz Radio”, providing some history of Duke Ellington. Ellington’s “The Nutcracker Suite” serves as the music and inspiration of what is to follow.

Boston Ballet, Boston Ballet II, and Boston Ballet School Post Graduates choreograph nine short pieces for each other. Aside from the score, the threads that tie them together are a coordinated palette of grayscale and red hued costumes and the sole piece of scenery that stays suspended throughout. Paul Craig’s Sugar Rum Cherry (Dance Of The Sugar-Plum Fairy) feels overall the strongest and Chyrstyn Fentroy’s stage presence although minimal is most memorable; but each vignette shows admirable effort in creating contemporary dance to syncopated music.


November 30 – December 25, 2020

Boston Ballet - The Nutcracker Online 2020


  • The Nutcracker Prince: Tigran Mkrtchyan
  • Sugar Plum Fairy: Ji Young Chae
  • Drosselmeier: Paulo Arrais
  • Clara: Mia Steedle
  • Snow Queen & King: Seo Hye Han & Paul Craig
  • Dew Drop: Viktorina Kapitonova

✧ Boston Ballet Nutcracker Review

This made-for-tv one-hour production is introduced by Hoda Kotb and narrated by Drosselmeier. It is a very abridged version of the full-length performance, so perhaps a good introduction for the young ones, but not a fulfilling experience for those wanting to watch a lot of dance. The only (near) full scenes that are shown are the Battle, Snow, Spanish, Flowers, and the Grand Pas Deux, the highlights being Ji Young Chae and Seo Hye Han as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Snow Queen, respectively. 

This offering is complimentary, though, so if you’re looking for a quick fix of this holiday favorite all that’s required is registration with an email address.


December 23-26, 2020

Charlotte Ballet - A Fairy-Tailored Nutcracker


December 17-27, 2020

Cincinnati Ballet - The Nutcracker at Home


December 4-25, 2020

Colorado Ballet - The Nutcracker 2020


  • Clara: Sarah Tryon
  • Nutcracker Prince: Francisco Estevez
  • Sugarplum Fairy: Chandra Kuykendall
  • Cavalier: Christophor Moulton


December 24, 2020 – January 23, 2021

English National Ballet - Nutcracker Delights


December 18-31, 2020

Grand Rapids Ballet - the nutcracker experience


  • Dream Clara: Julia Turner
  • Nutcracker Prince: Nathan Young
  • Dew Drop Fairy: Sarah Marley
  • Sugar Plum Fairy: Yuka Oba-Muschiana
  • Cavalier: Josue Justiz

✧ Grand Rapids Ballet Nutcracker Experience Review

Although not the most glamorous of Nutcrackers, Grand Rapids Ballet’s presentation for this holiday season is a special one. The company really accentuates the significance of the arts in their local and broader communities by including coverage of the Grand Rapids Symphony. In fact, the film begins with them – masked and physically distanced – playing the overture for the narrated Party and Battle Scenes.

Between Snow and Act II, there is also behind the scenes footage at the making of this production. From the artists talking about their first dance experiences to a peek into the costume shop to a look at how footage is spliced together, we are made aware of just how much human effort is made in the creation of ballet magic. Especially interesting to learn is that only four dancers are on stage at any given time; but due to incredible compositing and editing, we are provided a seamless viewing experience.

The second act includes most of the divertissements as well as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier variations and coda (there is no grand pas de deux). The dancers’ technique is not always as refined as one would expect from a professional company, but their energetic presence consistently radiates throughout.


December 15 – January 8, 2021

Houston Ballet - Nutcracker Sweets


December 11 – January 3, 2021

New York City Ballet - The Nutcraker 2020


  • Sugarplum Fairy: Maria Kowroski
  • Her Cavalier: Tyler Angle
  • Dewdrop: Megan Fairchild


December 24, 2020 – January 15, 2021

Orlando Ballet - The Nutcracker


  • Sugarplum Fairy: Chloe Misseldin
  • Her Cavalier: Aran Bell


December 11-26, 2020

Pacific Northwest Ballet - The Nutcracker 2020 - digital


December 17-31, 2020

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre - Fireside Nutcracker


  • Drosselmeyer: Steven Annegarn
  • Marie: Diana Yohe
  • The Nephew: Joseph Parr
  • Snow King: William Moore
  • Snow Queen: Gabrielle Thurlow
  • Winter Fairy: Alexandra Kochis
  • Sugar Plum Fairy: Jessica McCann
  • Cavalier: Yoshiaki Nakano
  • The Garden Fairy: Hannah Carter


December 23-27, 2020

Royal Winnipeg Ballet - The Nutcracker Suite


November 27 – December 31, 2020

San Francisco Ballet - Nutcracker Online 2020


  • Clara: Elizabeth Powell
  • Snow Queen: Yuan Yuan Tan
  • Snow King: Pierre-François Vilanoba
  • Sugar Plum Fairy: Vanessa Zahorian
  • Grand pas de deux: Maria Kochetkova and Davit Karapetyan

✧ San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Review

Set in 1915 in San Francisco, Helgi Tomasson’s 2004 version of “The Nutcracker” features glamorous costuming and decorative nuances of that era.

The story is well-woven with details that make you think, “Oh yes! That totally makes sense!” For example, in the first act all of the mechanical dolls (the Nutcracker being one of them) appear in the beginning of Clara’s dream, giving weight to the theory that what we experience in real life enters our subconscious mind. Also, the King of the Mice’s death is not precipitated by a ballet slipper but rather… well, best to leave that surprise for your viewing! As Clara and her Nutcracker-turned-Prince journey through the Land of Snow, the Queen, King, and snowflakes they encounter are absolutely beautiful.

In the second act, the Sugar Plum Fairy reigns the Crystal Palace which is filled with dragonflies, butterflies, and ladybugs. The divertissements perform for Clara and Drosselmeyer who sit upon a dais that changes location in order to adapt to the dances. The Sugar Plum Fairy leads the flowers (so no Dewdrop Fairy) and when Clara’s dream to become a ballerina comes true, it is a more adult version of herself that dances the Grand Pas de Deux with the Prince.

Tomasson’s unique vision and choreography are what make this version of “The Nutcracker” worth seeing.

✧ Extra Features

In San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker Online, you will also be treated to an introduction by Elizabeth Powell who plays Clara in the filming and is now a soloist in the company, interactive virtual reality images of the exterior and interior of the city’s War Memorial Opera House, a history of The Nutcracker (in 1944, San Francisco Ballet performed the first full version in America!) and thematic games to bring you even more joy during a time when it is so needed.


December 21-24, 2020

The Scottish Ballet - The Secret Theatre


from December 4, 2020

The National Ballet of Canada - The Nutcracker 2021 Cineplex


December 2020

The Washington Ballet - The Nutcracker Virtual Experience
Nutcracker Online Performances 2020

Featured Photo for Nutcracker Online Performances 2020: Paulo Arrais, Tigran Mkrtchyan, and Mia Steedle of Boston Ballet in Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker © Liza Voll Photography

Special thanks to

Tulsa Ballet Review: Stepping Out of The Nutcracker Box

Yes, you read that correctly.

Not only was this the first live ballet performance I have watched via Zoom; it was my first time ever using Zoom. I didn’t admit that to Artistic Director Marcello Angelini when he invited me to watch Tulsa Ballet’s The Lost Nutcracker opening night performance and lucky for me I managed to keep my audio muted and camera turned off the entire time.

Confirmed in what was proven in their Creations Reimagined program, the dancers of Tulsa Ballet are – simply put – wonderful. No matter if they are wearing ballet shoes, pointe shoes or character shoes and regardless of what style of dance they are performing, they do it well.

Tulsa Ballet - Holiday Boogie
Maine Kawashima and Sasha Chernjavsky in Ma Cong's Holiday Boogie © Bethany Kirby

“Holiday Boogie” sets the tone for the entire evening. From the moment the curtain opens, it is clear that the objective of the program is to bring holiday joy and energy to the audience; the important thing is to take it with a grain of salt. Though a bit (intentionally?) over the top at times, Ma Cong‘s choreography conveys the sentiment behind six classic Christmas songs, making use of  various dance vernacular to best fit each section. It is well-performed by what I believe is the entire company and definitely entertaining.

Tulsa Ballet II - Little Story
Members of Tulsa Ballet II in Joshua L. Peugh's Little Story © Bethany Kirby

Gears are switched dramatically for Joshua Peugh‘s “Little Story”.  Performed by Tulsa Ballet II (the transition space for dancers who train with both the highest level of the school as well as the company), the narrative is inspired by the bits and pieces of E. T. A. Hoffman’s and Alexander Dumas’ Nutcracker tales that have perhaps been overlooked by the ballet version of “The Nutcracker” that we are familiar with.

Intellectually, it’s a great study. The juxtaposition between our perceptions of what Nutcracker should be and the visual, audio, and sensory experience Peugh’s creation provokes is mirrored and accentuated by the genre of the score – klezmer.

At first I’m a little overwhelmed by the intensity and speed of it all but gradually find myself entranced in the fervor. Although I catch what are the more obvious references to the traditional ballet, a second – or third – viewing would be necessary to appreciate all of the nuances. I am impressed with the capacity of these young dancers to excel at such a cerebral work.

Tulsa Ballet - The Lost Nutcracker
Tulsa Ballet Artists in Luciano Cannito's The Lost Nutcracker © Bethany Kirby

Splash “The Nutcracker” stage with some of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” surrealism and you’ve got Luciano Cannito‘s “The Lost Nutcracker”.

On a mission to find their beloved Prince, Marie and Clara – yes, there are two young girls in this telling – search through the balletic vaults and run into Sleeping Beauty & Prince Desiré and Odette/Odile & Prince Siegfried. The choreographer’s cinematic mindset is a useful tool in creating the sharp scene cuts as there is no other way to successfully transition between Mariah Carey, Tchaikovsky, and Jose Feliciano, or from stage to pedestrian environments. 

The sooner the audience accepts the bizarro world the better. It is only then that one can just relax and truly enjoy the show.

No performances found!
Featured Photo of  Giulia Neri, Chandler Proctor, and Maine Kawashima in Luciano Cannito’s The Lost Nutcracker © Tulsa Ballet

Special thanks to

Compañía Nacional de Danza Review: Giselle à la Espagnol

On the heels of Compañía Nacional de Danza’s successful return to Teatro Real, the company held its world premiere of Artistic Director Joaquin De Luz’s “Giselle” at another of Madrid’s renowned performing arts venues, Teatro de la Zarzuela.

Bringing to life a new vision of an epitomized classical ballet is an ambitious task and in De Luz’s case it would be better classified as a reinvention. He put together a team of experts in musical direction, libretto writing, dramaturgy, scenography, lighting sound, video, and costume design; many of them with little experience in working with a ballet company. This decision was intentional though as De Luz “didn’t want to do a traditional ‘Giselle’. For that [he] could have rented a production.”

There is much significance to De Luz having decided to set his multimedia – cinematic and voiceover are key elements to his version – “Giselle” during the period of Spanish Romanticism. He is including the history of his country in the classical ballet canon and bringing to the forefront the rich cultural influence this short early 19th century movement had, all to a primarily Spanish audience. Inspired by the writings of one of the country’s most famous poets, Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, this story takes place in a small village near Moncayo, Spain.

There are no artistic details left untouched as De Luz makes some alterations to assure that there are no incongruences in the presentation. Aside from the costumes obviously needing to appropriately reflect the time and location, we also see how Bathilde’s necklace gift to Giselle is replaced with a peineta, Albrecht’s sword replaced with a pistola, and the introduction of Giselle’s mantilla as a symbol of her love for Albrecht.

Compañía Nacional de Danza - Giselle
Giada Rossi in Joaquín De Luz's Giselle © Alba Muriel

Musically, there are a few not-so-subtle modifications done in this arrangement which go hand-in-hand with choreographic decisions made. Surprisingly wonderful is the introduction of (off-stage) castanets during the peasant pas de deux. Although at first shocking to an accustomed ear, when we see that the couple is dancing a jota (an Aragonese folk dance) influenced duet, all falls into place. Haruhi Otani and Yanier Gómez are artistically charming and technically brilliant, and the applause they receive is proof of how approving and appreciative the audience is.

Near the end of the first act, although maintaining Giselle’s obvious leitmotif, a dramatic shift from major to minor chords and scales during her evolving madness make for an amazingly intense, macabre, and sad scene, one that brings this writer unashamedly to tears. The transitions to and from this musical adaptation, though, are a bit jarring; but I imagine it is because we are not used to it.

Compañía Nacional de Danza - Giselle
Giada Rossi in Joaquín De Luz's Giselle © Alba Muriel

Giada Rossi‘s interpretation of this iconic ballet figure leave no doubts about her being cast for the world premiere. She plays a gentle Giselle, a clearly adoring daughter and loyal lover. Rossi’s upper body and arms are light yet not wilted, and despite not sustaining some of her balances as much as the musical notes encourage, she is equally strong in both acts. She executes the (in)famous series of entrechat quatres with an enviable ease and precision.

Her Albrecht – danced by Alessandro Riga – takes a little more convincing. He is a little shaky in his first act solo but makes up for it amongst the Wilis. 

First having impressed me in Nacho Duato’s “White Darkness”, Isaac Montllor does not fail as Hilarion. His acting is so believable and genuine that I find myself wanting to scream from the second tier to Giselle, “Just listen to him! He loves you and is telling the truth!” But alas, the story must unfold on its own.

Compañía Nacional de Danza - Giselle
Giada Rossi and Alessandro Riga in Joaquín De Luz's Giselle © Alba Muriel
Compañía Nacional de Danza - Giselle
Giada Rossi and Alessandro Riga in Joaquín De Luz's Giselle © Alba Muriel

When De Luz mentioned in a press conference that he had modified about sixty percent of the choreography in Act II (he estimated twenty percent in Act I), I gasped. After seeing the result, I wanted to cry with joy.

This makes for my third live “Giselle” over the past 437 days and although Boston Ballet and American Ballet Theatre have wonderful productions, this is by far the best second act I have seen. And this is despite Kayoko Everhart‘s lackluster Myrtha (this is not entirely her doing although her arabesque promenades and penchés are unstable; the role is hardly given any choreography!)

Credit goes to the impeccable corps de ballet, their ballet master/mistress, and the renewed choreography. Yes, the Wilis have their recognized feet-throbbing motionless moments on the edges of stage right and left, but more often than not they are moving, transitioning seamlessly from one formation to the next, dancing with utmost synchronicity. Led by Ana María Calderón and Otani’s Moina and Zulma, respectively, the spirits preserve graceful etherealism while demonstrating resolution to have the intruding men dance to their deaths.

Compañía Nacional de Danza’s Giselle will run from December 9-22 at Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid, Spain.

No performances found!

Featured Photo of Giada Rossi and Compañía Nacional de Danza in Joaquín de Luz’s Giselle © Alba Muriel

Special thanks to

Duncan Lyle Dance Review: Kaatsbaan 2020 Fall Residency Performance

Granted the 2020 fall residency at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park (familiarly known as simply Kaatsbaan), American Ballet Theatre dancer Duncan Lyle’s company Duncan Lyle Dance worked with eight dancers over the course of two weeks to produce a performance showcasing five of his ballets. Tucked away in Tivoli, NY and artistically directed by former ABT principal Stella Abrera, Kaatsbaan is renowned in the cultural community as a peaceful haven to nurture the performing arts.

For this program which was performed live in November and available to stream in December, Jonatan Lujan joined seven of Lyle’s ABT colleagues – Anabel Katsnelson, Isadora Loyola, Betsy McBride, Luciana Paris, Patrick Frenette, Carlos Gonzalez, and Javier Rivet – as well as pianist Michael Scales to create the ballet bubble.

The selections from his portfolio make it clear that Lyle is a great storyteller, a choreographer that is in touch with both the human and ethereal characteristics of ballet. The diversity of the works also leads one to believe that he does not desire to be pigeonholed although even from just one viewing I am able to pick up on some tendencies.

The program opens with “Twelve Waltzes”, a pas de deux danced by Katsnelson and Gonzalez. It starts with a sweeping energy quite reminiscent of Balanchine’s “Valse Fantaisie” followed by a series of solos and duets set to Johannes Brahms’ Sixteen Waltzes, Op. 39. The couple is lovely, both together and as individuals, extending energy to the very ends of their feet and through their fingertips. They appropriately project to a distant audience and withdraw in the more intimate, tender moments. There is stylistic epaulment, port de bras, and footwork from traditional Mazurka intermingled with the waltz which at times feels just right and at others a bit forced. Scales’ fine piano playing takes me back to days in the studio – any viewer who was at one time a ballet student will recognize the music from class. In fact, throughout the piece I find myself day dreaming about how nice it would be to dance it.

Anabel Katsnelson and Carlos Gonzalez in Dunca Lyle’s Twelve Waltzes.

Next up is McBride and Frenette in “Night and Day”, a work that would classify as one of those sneaker ballets that I don’t tend to be a fan of. And this one does not change my mind. Something about it feels a little too trendy and not enough substantial. The dancers are dressed in white t-shirts, jeans, and white sneakers moving to the lyrics of an independent musician as if they just happened to break out into improv in the middle of the street. 

“Impromptu No. 1” is a romantic solo that has potential (and is the second time we see traditional folk styling used in the upper body). Portraying what seems to be a woman who is drawn into the memories provoked by the bracelet adorning her right wrist, Loyola is mostly convincing of the emotions stirred by this ghost of her past but at times there is a disconnect between the steps executed and the feelings expressed. Whether this is due to dancer or choreographer is left for further discussion. 

Duncan Lyle Dance - The Acquisition
Luciana Paris & Jonatan Lujan in Duncan Lyle's The Acquisition © Patrick Frenette

As does the other more pedestrian-costumed “Night and Day”“The Acquisition” begins in silence. The congruence of Dave Brubeck’s jazzy music, Lyle’s inclusion of jive steps, and the men’s guayaberas perfectly suggests summertime in 1950s Havana. Paris, Lujan, and Rivet are spectacular artists, a wonderful luxury Lyle has to work with. He successfully tells a complete story full of details using symbolic gestures and choreographic motifs. Not wanting to spoil for anyone, I won’t go into any more details. Just know that this jewel of a ballet is alone worth the cost of a ticket.

The only time we see the entire company together is in the last piece. “Traceries” has the cast all dressed the same in blue-to-white ombre short tunics and consists of a constant flux of entering and exiting to transition through sections. Just when I think it’s been going on for too long, there is a still moment when Rivet is on center stage. The sequence that follows embodies one of Lyle’s fortes – creating an emotional bridge between the dancers and audience – and is the ideal note on which to end the show.

Featured Photo of Anabel Katsnelson & Carlos Gonzalez in Duncan Lyle’s Twelve Waltzes © Patrick Frenette

Boston Ballet Review: A Patchwork of Forsythe Parts

Boston Ballet and William Forsythe have a close relationship; they are currently in a five-year partnership that began in 2016 where a new (to the company) work by the American choreographer would be introduced to the repertory each year. So it’s not surprising that the company would kick off its first ever completely virtual season with a program dedicated to his works.

Forsythe Elements serves best to introduce newcomers to a taste of the acclaimed choreographer’s portfolio as well as to fans of Boston Ballet who would appreciate a trip down memory lane watching recordings shown from both the recent and distant past (2011 through 2020). 

Those who are wanting a more immersive ballet experience may feel a bit cheated as this program includes no broadcasts of any works in entirety. It is broken down into five sections; the first two were filmed earlier this month, the third and fifth each a trio of montages with a conversation between Forsythe and six company dancers sandwiched in the middle.

Boston Ballet - Playlist (EP)
Lia Cirio and Viktorina Kapitonova in William Forsythe's Playlist (EP) © Angela Sterling

The program opens with the all-male Impossible section of “Playlist (EP)”. The dancers are filmed alone or in pairs and then the clips arranged in a way to piece them together coherently. It’s definitely a made-for-film adaptation of the 2019 piece originally created for and premiered by Boston Ballet.

Following are excerpts from “Pas/Parts 2018”, a company-tailored reworking of the ballet made for Paris Opera Ballet. As in “Playlist (EP)”, the dancers are masked (even when solo) creating a time stamp representative of the current health crisis.

Boston Ballet - The Second Detail
John Lam in William Forsythe's The Second Detail © Gene Schiavone

We then see what feels more like an audition reel than a performance.

It is an interesting decision to share a patchwork of excerpts from each ballet – “The Second Detail”, “Artifact 2017”, and (more) “Pas/Parts 2018” – rather than entire sections of each piece. The dancing is beautiful, but just as you start getting drawn in, the glimpses are over and the video and audio have already transitioned to another clip.

The same happens later on in the fifth section of the program with “Blake Works I”, “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated”, and (more) “Playlist (EP)”. It’s a shame because there’s never enough time to absorb the essence of each ballet.

Boston Ballet - In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated
Tigran Mkrtchyan and Ji Young Chae in William Forsythe's In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated © Liza Voll

As many companies who have created digital seasons have been doing, Boston Ballet provides extra content along with the showcase of ballets. Here we are privy to a Zoom conversation between Forsythe and some dancers during which they mostly discuss the collaborative atmosphere whenever the choreographer comes to the studios. There seems to be a great mutual respect, a reciprocal trust during the creative process which permits Forsythe to graciously ask his dancers, “Can I offer you a fresh step?”

2020-2021 Virtual Season | BB@yourhome

Boston Ballet’s Forsythe Elements is available to stream through November 29. For more information about this and other upcoming virtual programs, check out the calendar below. 

No performances found!
Nutcracker Online Performances 2020

Featured Photo of Roddy Doble and Lia Cirio in William Forsythe’s Artifact © Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Special thanks to

Sarasota Ballet Review: Cultivating the Seeds of the Future

Although Program 2 of Sarasota Ballet’s Digital Fall Season 2020 is chock-full of Balanchine favorites, something about it feels a bit underwhelming and skeletal. In general, the dancers are very careful with choreography that typically invites one to be more daring, to push the music, to push physical limits.

We also see too little of stronger company dancers Ellen Overstreet and Ricardo Graziano. They both make appearances, Overstreet in the First Movement of “The Four Temperaments” (“4 Ts” for short) and Graziano in the title pas de deux of “Who Cares?”, but the glimpses leave me wanting more.

It would have been especially nice to have seen Graziano cast in the “Liza” solo. He has such a charismatic presence, one that complement’s Janae Korte‘s cooler, more reserved composure in the pas de deux. Mind you, Korte is a (very recently promoted) coryphée taking on a principal role, and she performs it quite well. She seems more at ease dancing with her partner than in her solo, though, in which she plays the jazzy off-kilter hip movements a bit safe. In “4 Ts” she is lovely in the Third Movement which better suits what seems to be her more natural disposition. 

Like Korte, Lauren Ostrander has just been moved up the ranks to coryphée and is featured in the same ballets. In contrast, Ostrander is quite extroverted both on and off the stage. Being cast in the quirky Second Movement of “4 Ts” and what is known in the ballet space as “The Turning Girl” of “Who Cares?” seems to reflect her personality and technical talents.

It is nice to see Artistic Director Iain Webb giving opportunities to the younger dancers in his company. It provides himself, the dancers, and the audience the luxury of watching how they further develop roles as they themselves gain more real life and stage experience. Korte and Ostrander are two to keep an eye on.

Sarasota Ballet - Western Symphony
Katelyn May and Ricki Bertoni in George Balanchine's Western Symphony © Sarasota Ballet

Katelyn May is the darling of the program in both “Donizetti Variations” and the 2nd Movement of “Western Symphony”. In the former, the solo is the perfect opportunity to show off how well she articulates her feet. Partnering with Yuri Marques is at times shaky, but redeems itself in the series of double pirouettes / tours en l’aire en pointe. Marques’ presence also is inconsistent; we can note all too clearly when he is about to embark on something that requires more focus. 

In “Western Symphony” May and Ricki Bertoni are absolutely endearing in the adagio. There is such an ease to her dancing – her turns, her arms, her face; how can Bertoni’s character not be enamored with her?

The Sarasota Ballet's 2020-2021 Digital Fall Season

The company definitely shines more in Ashton works, but this is to be expected considering their long-standing dedication to the British choreographer. Still, the moments and dancers highlighted here are worth seeing. 

Sarasota Ballet’s Digital Program 2 streams through November 24. For more information about that program and the final one scheduled for their Digital Fall Season 2020, check out the calendar below.

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Featured Photo of Lauren Ostrander & Ivan Spitale and Janae Korte & Richard House in George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments © Sarasota Ballet

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Compañía Nacional de Danza Review: Yet Another Reason to Love Madrid

It’s hard not to fall in love with Madrid with its luminescent six o’clock sky and bocadillos de calamares. And now la Compañía Nacional de Danza has just given us another one.

Last night was the first time the company has performed in Teatro Real since Joaquín de Luz became artistic director and coinciding with the 170th anniversary of the opera house’s inaugural performance makes it all the more special.

Compañía Nacional de Danza - Apollo
Alessandro Riga, Giada Rossi, and Haruhi Otani in George Balanchine's Apollo © Compañía Nacional de Danza

Opening with George Balanchine‘s timeless collaboration with Stravinsky, “Apollo” , is a perfect way to establish the tone for the evening.

More specifically, with the curtain rising to Alessandro Riga in iconically-posed representation of the title character, we know that we’re in for a treat. If ever there was a figure to lead his muses, Riga is it; when he calls on Calliope, Polyhymnia, and Terpsichore – danced by Ana Calderón, Haruhi Otani, and Giadi Rossi, respectively – we can feel the electricity of his power.

Although all strong in their individuality, this quartet is particularly poignant in the final movement. There is an intimacy to their connection that along with their impeccable unison demonstrate the beauty that is Balanchine’s choreography.

Compañía Nacional de Danza - Concerto DSCH
Company Artists in Alexei Ratmansky's Concerto DSCH © Compañía Nacional de Danza

At a press conference earlier this week, de Luz portended that Alexei Ratmansky‘s “Concerto DSCH” would “keep you on the edge of your seat”. He was not wrong. The entire cast is full of an energy that just radiates throughout the house with Shostakóvich’s music from allegro to andante and back to allegro defining their movements.

The highlight is Luz’s contagious smile. He returns to the stage with New York City Ballet’s Gonzalo García to dance the trio that was created for them in 2008, this time with Otani as the charming girl at the center of their attention. The three are so engaged in their playful conversation that you wonder how they are able to pull off the ridiculously challenging (often times synchronous) and virtuosic choreography they’ve been given.

De Luz’s capacity has not waned with age; in fact, I have begun to believe that he has been sipping from the fountain of youth. García beams in one his country’s most gorgeous theatres – hopefully this is foreshadowing a return when he retires from City Ballet in early 2022?! And Otani has given Madrid the gift of young, diverse talent. 

Compañía Nacional de Danza - White Darkness
Kayoko Everhart in Nacho Duato's White Darkness © Compañía Nacional de Danza

There is so much to be said about “White Darkness”. Nacho Duato created this masterpiece in 2004 while director of Compañía Nacional de Danza and it feels so significant to view his staging for this generation of the company’s dancers.

A non-judgmental reflection of the effects drug use can have on one’s relationships, this cinematographic presentation with Jenkins’ pulsing soundtrack features Kyoko Everhart and Isaac Montllor as the protagonists. Everhart is at once elegant and emotive, her long lines expressing an intensity that extends beyond her fingertips. Montllor is so gloriously human, realism amidst an otherwise metaphorical scene. 

The other four couples clad in dark tops and shorts are absolutely stunning. A corps de ballet this accomplished is evidence of the strength of the entire company.

The show ends with me still at the edge of my seat. I applaud as loud as possible in an effort to somehow make up for the limitations placed on the theatre’s capacity. Just when my hands start to feel numb, Everhart walks to downstage right to bring Duato onto the stage. Although no one can hear me, I audibly gasp; we are witness to a historical moment where a decade old friction is finally eased.  

With de Luz at the helm, there is no doubt that Compañía Nacional de Danza will once again rise to great heights on the international stage.

Compañía Nacional de Danza Trailer

This Compañía Nacional de Danza’s program runs through November 21 at Teatro Real

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Featured Photo of Alessandro Riga in George Balanchine’s Apollo © Compañía Nacional de Danza

Grand Rapids Ballet Review: Calling Forth Perseverance, Community, and Hope

The opening of Grand Rapids Ballet’s business as (un)usual program gives me chills. With the city as their backdrop, dancers in street clothes are beckoned by the sweet sound of Gene Hahn‘s strings as he begins playing Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin. Artistic Director James Sofranko so flawlessly captures the essence of the emotion that draws artists to each other in his new piece “Calling Forth”, that irresistible attraction dancers have to music, that sensation of not being able to control the urge to move. In a poignant transition from street to stage, the cameras pan physically distanced, masked dancers longingly looking upward toward the beacon of their theatre and then capture the magnetic emotions that pull them inside.



“Calling Forth” continues in the Peter Martin Wege Theatre, a series of duets bookended by trios; the threesomes are the most dynamic. The opener is composed of women who just can’t seem to stop smiling for the simple reason that they are dancing; if permitted to vocalize, I imagine they may even burst into joyous laughter. The closer, which features Gretchen Steimle flanked by James Cunningham and Branden Reiners, is surely the strongest of the entire piece as they all exude a confidence in both their technique and presence. In fact, it is disappointing that the only other time Steimle makes an appearance is for a short instant in her own piece “Be Here Now”; it would have been lovely should she have been given more stage time.

Grand Rapids Ballet - Calling Forth
Branden Reiners, Gretchen Steimle, and James Cunningham in Artistic Director James Sofranko’s Calling Forth © Ray Nard Imagemaker

Following are two works created by company artists – Matthew Wenckowski‘s “Such As You” and the aforementioned “Be Here Now” – that both premiered as part of Grand Rapids Ballet Jumpstart program last year. “Such As You” is a male duet between Isaac Aoki and Nigel Tau in which ambient music plays background to expressive hands that manipulate and provoke reactions between the pair. The excerpt from Steimle’s piece features Nathan Young seemingly reliving the emotions of his past.



Following is the second world premiere of the program “Three Offerings” by Darrell Grand Moultrie, each section suggesting a different aspect of the human condition, notably those most prominent in the current climate – perseverance, community, and hope. A solo, quartet, and solo, respectively, each are distinct not only in theme but in musical composer and costuming; in fact, they could be performed independently of one another without diminishing the impact of the others. Words that Moultrie utter in a video conversation with Sofranko (seen in bonus footage that is epilogue to the performance) especially resonate in relationship with “Three Offerings”: that from art, people “get what they need”.

Grand Rapids Ballet - Wave
Yuka Oba-Muschiana’s Wave © Scott Rasmussen

Next up are two of Resident Choreographer Penny Saunders’ works – a pas de deux from “The Happy Prince & Other Wilde Tales” and “One To Three” – with a world premiere of company dancer Yuka Oba-Muschiana sandwiched in between. Aside from Cunningham’s energetic solo in “One To Three”, Oba-Muschiana’s “Wave” is the most memorable of this portion of the show. Apprentice Celeste Lopez-Keranen does a commendable job of dominating the stage in vibrant red, incorporating the stylistic influences of the choreography. The fusion of Spanish paso doble port de bras and mannerisms with Argentinian tango music is an interesting choice that seems to work well albeit a bit culturally confusing. The three girls in blue – Sarah Marley, Madison Massara, and Emily Reed – gorgeous both in silhouette and spotlight – I realize afterward are the same trio that so exuberantly open the program.

Grand Rapids Ballet - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Yuka Oba-Muschiana and Josue Justiz in Christopher Stowell’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream © Scott Rasmussen

The most classical ballet selection closes the evening. Titiana and Oberon’s pas de deux from Christopher Stowell‘s version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is danced adoringly by Oba-Muschiana and Josue Justiz and is a good teaser of what audiences can look forward to when the company performs the full production on the stage. 

Grand Rapids Ballet Artistic Director James Sofranko

Grand Rapids Ballet’s business as (un)usual program is available to view through November 15. For more information about that program and the others in their 2020/2021 Season, check out the calendar below. 

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Featured Photo of Gretchen Steimle in James Sofranko’s Calling Forth © Ray Nard Imagemaker

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Pacific Northwest Ballet Review: Lost Outside of Wonderland

I had very high expectations for this evening’s performance after my experience watching PNB’s first program of the season. Unfortunately, my engagement waned with each subsequent piece of the company’s Rep 2 showing, but that isn’t a reflection of the dancers at all as they fall nothing short of top notch. For me it comes down to perhaps a few factors, listed in no particular order of significance: the selection of works, the flow of the program, and personal preference.


My instinct in defense of the latter point is to say that if a dance is not mostly ballet-based, it isn’t for me. Yet my enthusiasm for Tulsa Ballet’s Creations Reimagined and Ballet Arizona’s Inspire offerings, as well as Marco Goecke’s “Mopey” and Albert Evan’s “One Body” that appeared on PNB’s opener would defy that argument.


Which leads me to the first two options which go hand in hand. Over the last few years it has become commonplace that ballet companies curate programs in which female choreographers are the protagonists. One in which the roster lists Penny Saunders, Twyla Tharp, Susan Marshall, and Jessica Lang would seem a sure winner, but something about the selection of pieces for Rep 2 just doesn’t work for me. Organizing a dance production is no easy feat and there is no direct science applied to the process; it’s more so that creative instinct and knowledge along with resolution of logistical challenges are required. And this time, the result doesn’t feel like a cohesive package.

Pacific Northwest Ballet Digital Season: Rep 2 Trailer

Penny Saunders’ “Wonderland” is a world premiere made-for-film piece that in the choreographer’s own words “pays homage to the marvel and magic of live theater”. She successfully achieves the sense of… wonder… with a montage of surrealistic scenes throughout the theatre employing viewpoints and locations not typically occupied by dancers. The cast of eight appear not only on the stage but in the orchestra pit and audience with visual transitions achieved by panning of the empty house. One movement is even filmed from the rafters showing three women dancing such that the stage floor is the support for their torsos. Saunders’ creative vision is at once beautiful, haunting, and mesmerizing no doubt in part due to incredible cinematography and videography teams.

The two middle works are excerpts from “Waterbaby Bagatelles” by Twyla Tharp and Susan Marshall’s “Arms”. The former is a quick five-minute romp of successive male solos being observed and admired by three bathing capped ladies. It is fun and entertaining although the excessive amount of different cuts needed in order to adhere to safety regulations is a little dizzying. “Arms” – as the title implies – features brachial choreography conveying the sometimes loving at times discordant emotions of a couple donned in dark pants and sleeveless light colored shirts. It is set to Luis Resto’s rapid electronic pulsing music (think “Stranger Things”) and the result of both the visual and audio repetitiveness causes this reviewer to simply tune out.


Regrettably, Jessica Lang’s world premiere of “Ghost Variations” does not draw me back in. Robert Schumann’s piano composition which inspires the title and storyline of the ballet, complemented by a couple of his wife’s works, produces a monotonous effect that not even the dynamic energy of the dancers nor the special lighting effects can break. The choreography, too, feels a bit mundane, but perhaps that is due to its musical pairing? 

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Rep 2 streams through November 16. For more information about that program and the others in their 20/21 Digital Season,  check out the calendar below. 

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Featured Photo of Elizabeth Murphy in Penny Saunders’ Wonderland © Lindsay Thomas


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Pacific Northwest Ballet

Ballet Arizona Review: Inspiring Glimpses of the Past, Present, and Future

Filmed in the company’s on-site Dorrance Theatre, Ballet Arizona’s Inspire program fulfills the promise that its title bears. It is not only an exhibit of his company’s technical and theatrical range from classical to contemporary that Artistic Director Ib Andersen has curated but also an intimate digital environment in which we hear directly from him and the dancers. They speak with an eloquence, elegance, and effervescence when sharing historical tidbits, creative impetuses, or what their favorite junk foods are.


Ballet Arizona - Pas de Sept
Ballet Arizona Artists in August Bournonville’s Pas de Sept © Tzu Chia Huang

“Inspire” very fittingly begins and ends with works that the Ballet Arizona’s director is familiar with, the first an homage to his professional roots and the closer a snapshot of the company’s present and future. “Pas de Sept” from “A Folk Tale” was choreographed by August Bournonville in 1854 for Royal Danish Ballet, Andersen’s alma mater at which he became the youngest principal ballet dancer in the company’s history at the age of 20. In true Bournonville fashion, “Pas de Sept” engages the audience with lightening speed petit allegro and beautiful épaulement. For those familiar with the “Pas de Six” from “Napoli”, this excerpt for seven dancers follows a similar rhythm and mold with a series of evolving solos, duets, and group dances. Particularly stand out are Rochelle Anvik and Ricardo Santos; the former for her ease, precision, and stylistic interpretation, the latter for accomplishing the challenging technical demands all the while maintaining his charming presence. 

Nutcracker Online Performances 2020
Ballet Arizona's Jillian Barrell & Nayon Iovino in Ib Andersen’s Goldberg Variations I © Tzu Chia Huang

American ballet audiences are likely to have become familiar with Andersen when he joined the New York City Ballet in 1980. The Balanchine influences of the decade he spent dancing there are apparent in his new work for Ballet Arizona, “Goldberg Variations I”. The casting of the piece was not only determined by physical distancing restrictions due to coronavirus, but also the personal milestones of his dancers. Real life couple Jillian Barrell and Nayon Iovino are expecting a child soon and Andersen chooses to incorporate Barrell’s five-month pregnancy into “Goldberg”, a kind of prelude to the rest of the piece. It’s a bit reminiscent of the birth prologue in Balanchine’s “Apollo”. In fact, the couple’s tender duet in royal blue costumes gives way to nine more celebratory movements with dancers dressed in all white, marking a clear stylistic and visual distinction. The choreographer’s goal is to convey the life and joy of dance and this is achieved successfully with playful interaction, intricate footwork, and lofty jumps. It is in this ballet that we get to see the company working as a whole; their unified energy is contagious.

Ballet Arizona - Goldberg Variations I
Ballet Arizona's Erick Garnica & Alberto Pañalver in Ib Andersen’s Goldberg Variations I © Tzu Chia Huang

Sandwiched between the tutus, skirts, poetic shirts, and white tights are two contemporary works. Iovino’s pas de deux from his 2014 “Inner Layer” is an exploration of reconciliation and forgiveness in which we see Anvik trade pointe shoes for socks in a passionate and visceral conversation with her partner, Ethan Price.

Alejandro Cerrudos’s “Pacopepepluto” puts the spotlight on three of Ballet Arizona’s fine male dancers – IovinoHelio Lima, and Alejandro Mendez. Clothed in mere tight, flesh-toned shorts each of the three men command their solos set to Dean Martin’s “Memories Are Made Of This”, “In The Chapel In The Moonlight” and “That’s Amore”, respectively, fusing raw physicality, sinuous expressivity, and timely humor.

Nutcracker Online Performances 2020
Ballet Arizona's Rochelle Anvik and Ethan Price in Nayon Iovino’s Inner Layer © Tzu Chia Huang

Ballet Arizona’s Inspire program is only available to stream for the 24 hours beginning November 7 @ 7:00pm MST, so there’s a small window of time for you to still catch it. For more information about the program, check out the calendar below.

Regardless, you can also look forward to seeing the company’s The Nutcracker Suite in December, this year’s holiday production.

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Featured Photo of Ballet Arizona Artist in Alejandro Cerrudo’s Pacopepepluto © Tzu Chia Huang

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