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Visions of Sugarplums: Go See the Nutcracker in Philly

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Emma Cahill/ Villanovan Photography
Enjoy the wonders of all the different Nutcracker performance Philly has to offer.

George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” ballet is a staple of every holiday season. Ballet companies run this magical performance through the entirety of December, and any dancer will tell you they’ve been in at least one production of it during their childhood. From mice and soldiers to candy canes, hot chocolate and so much more, “The Nutcracker” has solidified itself as one of the most iconic ballets of all time.

One can, of course, see the Philadelphia Ballet’s beautiful rendition of this classic performance this winter at the Academy of Music. Whether it’s Clara throwing her shoe at the Mouse King or Mother Ginger’s children hiding under her skirt or the Sugar Plum Fairy, the whimsical elements of this ballet cannot be understated.

However, that is not the only version of “The Nutcracker” coming to Philly this season. If one is seeking a new and unique spin on the classic this time around, look no further than “The Tapcracker.” Performed on by the all-women tap company the Lady Hoofers, this rendition is entirely in tap, rather than its usual ballet. Furthermore, this performance leaves the familiar German setting and shifts to Paris. Here, the mice have taken over the city and the beloved wooden soldiers must guard the Eiffel Tower as Paris is thrown into chaos. This surely hilarious performance will take place on Dec. 9 and Dec. 10 at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, so if one needs a laugh before finals week officially comes around, this is the show to see.

Another classic Philly adaptation to look forward to is the “Classic Nutcracker” by The Rock School. Its choreography follows a different path than the popular Balanchine variation, taking inspiration from Marius Pepita, who choreographed for the Royal Ballet. This school’s performance features the future of ballet, with young students taking on these iconic roles in order to create the show we know and love. The Rock School is also known for its wonderfully creative “Nutcracker 1776” which places the beloved characters of the original ballet in colonial Philadelphia, which proves to be an entertaining history lesson. When Drosselmeier becomes Ben Franklin, mice become British soldiers and the Nutcracker becomes a revolutionary, one knows they’re in for a treat. “Nutcracker 1776” is unfortunately missing from their website this year, so one can only hope they bring it back very soon.

There are no doubt countless other companies and dance schools all around the city putting on their own version of “The Nutcracker.” Regardless of where one experiences it, this ballet is something I believe everyone should see. It’s a wonderfully engaging performance, drawing people of all ages to it with color, music and the distinct feeling of the holidays.

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