The Nutcracker

December 10 – 31, 2021

The Nutcracker

December 10 – 31, 2021
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Ballet companies the world over perform The Nutcracker during the holiday season, each with a special take on Marius Petipa’s beloved classic. The National Ballet of Canada has one of the finest versions in James Kudelka’s 1995 staging which opens at a Christmas Eve party in rural 19th century Russia. With its non-stop dancing and magnificent sets and costumes designed by Santo Loquasto, with lighting by Jennifer Tipton, The Nutcracker is an unforgettable tribute to the imagination.

For the 2021/22 season, The Nutcracker will be presented with some adaptations to ensure the safety of all involved. All the children’s roles will be performed by students of Canada’s National Ballet School, with no external performers. There will be no children under the age of 12 in the production and all performers and crew will be fully vaccinated. Additionally, the roles of the Cannon Dolls will not be performed by celebrity guests this year.

Nutcracker View Gallery

The Story

Squabbling siblings Misha and Marie are attending a Christmas party at their country estate when their mysterious Uncle Nikolai arrives, bearing gifts. These include a beautiful nutcracker doll for Marie who takes it to the nursery that night. Then the magic begins. The clock strikes twelve, the Christmas tree grows to enormous proportions, and Misha and Marie begin their journey to the icy realm of the Snow Queen and golden palace of the Sugar Plum Fairy where they must learn to get along.

Five Things to Know
  1. 1Marius Petipa’s two-act ballet The Nutcracker premiered in Russia in 1892 set to original music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the final of his three full-length ballet scores. The story was based on E.T.A Hoffman’s story, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.
  2. 2Kudelka’s adaptation changes the focus of Hoffman’s story from a little girl to siblings Misha and Marie. Their journey to the land of sweets presents them with challenges, and is a metaphor for growing up.
  3. 3Traditionally, the party scene in Act 1 takes place indoors in a formal room of the house. But in Kudelka’s version, the action moves to a rural barn where winter weather – snowballs, chilly temperatures and ice – adds to the beauty and fun. The setting may have been inspired by Kudelka’s upbringing on a farm in Newmarket, Ontario.
  4. 4Instead of toys coming to life in Act 1, Kudelka presents animals: a lifelike dancing Horse and two Bears, one of them on rollerblades! The production also includes a Rooster, Sheep, Fox and Unicorns, among other creatures.
  5. 5In Kudelka’s staging, the famous Waltz of the Flowers includes a Bee – a truly unique addition that features some of the most dazzling choreography in the ballet.
The Choreographer

James Kudelka served as Resident Choreographer of The National Ballet of Canada following his nine years as Artistic Director. He choreographs in a variety of styles and forms, from original full-length ballets to short contemporary works and remounted classics.

The Composer

The late 19th century Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky created some of the most popular works in the classical repertoire, particularly his three full-length scores for ballet: Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. His body of work includes full-length operas, multiple symphonies and concertos.


“The best Nutcracker on the planet” The Globe and Mail

“★★★★/4 Joy is palpable in this production” Toronto Star

The Nutcracker: nothing short of spectacular!” National Post

Running Time

  • Act I 47m
  • Intermission 20m
  • Act II 43m
  • Total (approx) 1h 56m


Choreography and Libretto:
James Kudelka, O.C.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Set and Costume Design:
Santo Loquasto

Lighting Design:
Jennifer Tipton

Premiere: The National Ballet of Canada, O’Keefe Centre (now Meridian Hall), Toronto, December 21, 1995

The Nutcracker is made possible by generous financial support from production underwriters Sandra Pitblado & Jim Pitblado, C.M., Lawrence & Ann Heisey and an anonymous friend of the National Ballet.

Running Time

  • Act I 47m
  • Intermission 20m
  • Act II 43m
  • Total (approx) 1h 56m

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