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Cracking the Nutcracker Code: Guide to 2015 Performances Around Seattle

From one-hour abridged versions perfect for tots to the PNB spectacular

Pacific Northwest Ballet, George Balanchine's 'The Nutcracker'

Up and down the Sound, there’s a Nutcracker in (almost) every town. To help you figure out which one suits your family’s holiday tastes, here’s a rundown on local productions, with information on type of production, price and length (an important consideration for little ones!).

Notes: These are organized by region. If you want an even more complete list, here’s an aggregation site for all Nutcracker performances in the region. And if we missed one of your favorites, email us at emurray@parentmap.com. Tips: Many productions offer group discounts. And book early: Many of the best/most affordable/most tot-friendly productions sell out quickly.

Eastside Nutcrackers

Evergreen City Ballet's The Nutcracker

Evergreen City Ballet’s Artistic Director Kevin Kaiser danced for years with Pacific Northwest Ballet, and he knows PNB’s Nutcracker from the inside, which makes his Renton-based company’s budget-friendly traveling show worth your attention. This year's production features redesigned sets and costumes and is performed in three venues. Select one-hour shows for young children can be seen in Bellevue and Auburna, while Renton shows are full length (about two hours). Music is recorded.

Evergreen City Ballet

Where and when: Dec. 4-6, The Theatre at Meydenbauer. Dec. 12-13, Auburn Performing Arts Center. Dec. 19-20, Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center.
Price: $14–$25 for one-hour performances; $14–$32 for full-length performances
Tickets: evergreencityballet.org, 425-228-6800 

International Ballet Theatre

A classic, Russian-style production of the ballet choreographed by artistic director and IBT founder Vera Altunina. With Russian dancers and sets and costumes from Ukraine. Highlights include exotic Arabian dancers and a fierce battle scene with lifelike cavalry. 

International Ballet Theatre. Photo by Rex Tranter

Where and when:  Dec. 4–6, 11–23. Kirkland Performance Center, Kirkland; Theatre at Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue
Price: $25–$50 
Tickets: ibtbellevue.org

Emerald Ballet Theatre

Emerald Ballet Theatre's annual production of The Nutcracker, directed by former Bolshoi ballerina Viktoria Titova, is a staging of the classic ballet with professional dancers and 150 students from the ballet school; Titova appears as the Sugar Plum Fairy. The Rainier Symphony Orchestra plays accompaniment with David Waltman conducting. All performances are matinees.

Emerald Ballet Theatre. Photo by Heninger Fotografik

Where and when: Dec. 5–13. $20–$35. Northshore Performing Arts Center, Bothell
Price: $20–$35
Tickets: emeraldballet.org

Seattle Nutcracker productions

Pacific Northwest Ballet

PNB's is the gold standard Nutcracker in our region: famous, pricey and worth it. And after 31 years, Pacific Northwest Ballet is debuting an all-new Nutcracker version with choreography by George Balanchine and sets by Ian Falconer, of Olivia the Pig fame. Nov. 27–Dec. 28. $32–$156. 

Pacific Northwest Ballet's George Balanchine's 'The Nutcracker'

Where and when: McCaw Hall, Seattle Center: Friday, Nov. 27–Sunday, Dec. 28, various show times
$25–$156; everyone, even babes in arms, needs a ticket; group rates available. Tickets: pnb.org

Other special PNB Nutcracker events: On opening weekend, special activities include crafts, carolers, magicians and dance classes. All special events, including some not listed here, can be found on the PNB web page. The Family Matinee Nutcracker Suite is $30/person. It includes a candy station; hot drinks; an appetizer buffet; alcoholic drinks for the adults and photo opportunities for kids during intermission. The Nutcracker Tea after the Dec. 5 matinee costs $65 adult/$45 child and includes a snacks-and-sweets buffet, autograph collecting opportunities and a keepsake poster.

ARC Dance

This north Seattle dance school produces ever year a very popular, family-friendly one-hour show called Nutcracker Sweets that caters to young audiences and their families, and showcases the talents of ARC’s student dancers, alongside its youth and professional company dancers.

Where and when: Dec. 11–13, 19. $10–$30. All ages. ARC Dance Space, Seattle (Dec. 11–13); Shorewood Performing Arts Center, Shoreline (Dec. 19). 
Price: $10–$30
Tickets: arcdance.org

The Cornish Preparatory Dance Company

Cornish dancers, ages 6–18, showcase their talents in their fun and fanciful version of the holiday ballet.

Where and when: Dec. 18–20. Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, Seattle. 
Price: $16–$20
Tickets: cornishdance.edu

North Sound Nutcracker productions

Olympic Ballet Theatre

The Edmonds ballet company presents its annual, full-length performance of the holiday favorite, featuring a new backdrop and staging that debuted last year. OBT also offers a shorter performance designed for schools and groups, which includes a behind-the-scenes look at the production designed for kids. The public can also attend these group shows, which are a bargain and perfect for little ones.

Olympic Ballet Theatre

Where and when: Dec. 11–13, 17–20. Everett Performing Arts Center; Edmonds Center for the Arts.

Price: $20–$30; $8 for group performances.  
Tickets: 425-774-7570 for group/abridged performances; olympicballet.com/Nutcracker for other performances.

Washington School of Dance

This Bothell dance academy’s Nutcracker is narrated, one hour in length, and features 70-plus dancers ages 4 to 18; a perfect introduction to the ballet for young children. 

Where and when: Glacier Peak Performing Arts Center, Snohomish: Dec. 12–13. Snohomish High School
Price: $13

South Sound Nutcracker productions

Tacoma City Ballet

Tacoma City Ballet celebrates its 31st production of The Nutcracker and The Tale of the Hard Nut, with Tchaikovsky’s beloved music played by the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra. Last year, our reviewer praised the production's "sumptuous sets, floaty costumes, and skilled dancing," as well as the intimate setting of the Pantages Theater, which "puts you close enough to see every sparkly detail." These performances run over two hours, a little longer than others because they include a prologue that explains the origins of The Nutcracker. 

Tacoma City Ballet

Where and when: Dec. 12–20, Pantages Theater, Tacoma
Price: $15–$100; group discounts available
Tickets: broadwaycenter.org

Dance Theatre Northwest

This Pierce County ballet company has been performing The Nutcracker for over a decade. The full-length production runs about two hours.

Where and when: Dec. 12–13. Mount Tahoma High School Auditorium, Tacoma
Price: $22–$26; 50 percent discount for kids, students and seniors
Tickets: dancetheatrenorthwest.org

Ballet Northwest

Olympia's long-running ballet company presents its 30th anniversary production of The Nutcracker, featuring talented local dancers from age 8 to 69, drawn community-wide.

Where and when: Dec. 11–20. Washington Center for the Performing Arts, Olympia
Price: $14–$33 
Tickets: washingtoncenter.org

This article was originally published in 2012 and updated for 2015

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