November 27 - December 26, 2021
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Experience the magic of The Washington Ballet’s charmingly-DC The Nutcracker!

This celebrated production is set in historic 1882 Georgetown with George Washington, King George III, and other historical figures. Join us again with family and friends or start a new holiday tradition with your loved ones.

Set to Tchaikovsky’s magical score, this celebrated classic comes to life with intricate, stunning set designs, original period costumes, and over 100 dancers including students and trainees from The Washington School of Ballet. It has become the signature Nutcracker of the nation’s capital.

With 30 scheduled performances, The Washington Ballet’s The Nutcracker will transport audiences of all ages into a winter wonderland that has become a lasting holiday tradition not to be missed.

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Signature events:

Military Appreciation Night
Wednesday, December 8, 2021, at 7:00 PM

Photo by Victoria Pickering

The Washington Ballet brings the magic of The Nutcracker to service men and women and their families for Military Appreciation Night.

Family Day
Sunday, December 12, 2021 at 1:00PM

By Theo Kossenas, media4artists

The Nutcracker Family Day is an interactive experience where children of all ages can participate in activities and festivities prior to the matinee performance. Visit craft stations for coloring, ornament making, and search-a-word, photo ops with dancers, and the opportunity to watch a rehearsal and learn how dancers prepare for performance. Family Day activities are included in the ticket price.

The Nutcracker Tea Party
Sunday, December 5 at at The Homer Building

Join your favorite Nutcracker characters for a magical morning or afternoon tea party at The Homer Building. Guests will be transported to an enchanting winter wonderland where they will indulge in tea sandwiches, fresh scones, sweet treats, holiday teas, crisp champagne (for the adults), and pose for photos with the iconic Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy. Experience tea time prior to or after the matinee performance of The Washington Ballet’s charmingly-DC The Nutcracker at the historic Warner Theatre. Learn more here!

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Julie Kent on The Nutcracker:

Set in historic Georgetown with George Washington as the heroic nutcracker and houseguests like Frederick Douglass, John Paul Jones, and Harriet Tubman, The Washington Ballet’s The Nutcracker is charming iteration of the holiday classic. The tone and ambiance of the Warner Theatre and Tchaikovsky’s iconic score contribute to the holiday spirit, and it is a pleasure to see how the performance touches our audience.

The Nutcracker provides wonderful artistic milestones for our dancers as they move through the ranks and grow artistically and technically over the years. It is a joy to see the whole school represented with the company and to get to see the full spectrum of The Washington Ballet onstage.


The Nutcracker Synopsis

It’s Christmas Eve in 1882 in a Georgetown mansion. Clara and her family prepare for a holiday celebration. As the guests arrive, Clara’s mysterious godfather, Mr. Drosselmeyer, enters with his handsome young nephew, who greets Clara with a kiss on her hand. Drosselmeyer entertains the guests with a puppet show and dancing dolls and presents Clara with a special gift—a nutcracker.

Jealous of his sister’s present, Fritz seizes the nutcracker and breaks it. As the party ends, Clara sadly places the nutcracker under the Christmas tree. Later that night, after everyone has gone to bed, Clara tiptoes downstairs to retrieve her nutcracker. Suddenly, the room fills with scurrying mice. Eventually, Clara falls asleep and begins to dream. When the clock strikes midnight, Drosselmeyer’s magic begins. The Christmas tree grows and a battle ensues between a brigade of toy soldiers led by a life-sized nutcracker against the Rat King and his menacing rats. As the Rat King nears victory, Clara distracts him, enabling the nutcracker to kill him. Suddenly, the nutcracker is turned into a handsome prince. He leads Clara through the enchanted winter to a glorious springtime.

Clara and her Nutcracker Prince travel to Springtime, where the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. They are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy, her Cavalier and her attendants: butterflies, mushrooms and other woodland creatures. When the Prince tells them how Clara saved his life, the Sugar Plum Fairy summons her subjects to entertain them with wonderful dances—Spanish and Chinese dances, a duet for an Anacostian brave and maiden. Brilliant red cardinals frolic with a Tom Cat; an American frontiersman dances with frontier girls; Mother Barnum dances with her circus clowns; and the waltz of the Cherry Blossoms is led by the Dew Drop Fairy. The celebration comes to a spectacular climax when the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier perform a grand pas de deux. Just before the curtain falls, we see Clara asleep with her nutcracker, marking an end to her magical journey.

History of TWB's The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker was originally based on the story of The Nutcracker and the Mouse, written by German author E.T.A. Hoffmann. Years later, Alexander Dumas rewrote the story, making it happier and more fun for kids to read. In 1891 Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky was commissioned to write the music for a new ballet based on the stories by the St. Petersburg Opera, but he was initially unhappy with the setting of a children’s Christmas party.

The legendary choreographer Marius Petipa presented Tchaikovsky with an exact scenario, including rhythm, tempo and number of measures for each dance. Petipa later became ill and the choreography was completed by his assistant, Lev Ivanov.

The Nutcracker debuted on December 17, 1892 in the Mariinsky Theatre in Russia, which is still the home of the Kirov Ballet today. The original cast included ballet students, just as The Washington Ballet and The Washington School of Ballet does today. The Nutcracker was not performed outside of Russia until 1934, when Nicholas Sergeyev staged it at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in England.

The Nutcracker was first mounted by The Washington Ballet in 1961. The production by TWSB and TWB founder Mary Day was performed in Constitution Hall and, beginning in 1992, at The Warner Theatre.  In 2004, the Company premiered a new all-American version of The Nutcracker by Artistic Director Septime Webre, designed just for Washington, DC.

Health & Safety Guidelines

The health and welfare of our entire community are our most important priorities. For all performances, TWB has instituted several COVID-19 health and safety policies, including proof of vaccination OR proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to the performance for all eligible patrons ages 12 and older, as well as universal masking requirements. Children under 12 will be permitted to attend performances of The Nutcracker with proof of vaccination OR proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to the performance. Learn more.

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