The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker

Running time: 2 hours with one 20-minute intermission


Toronto’s favourite holiday tradition! Ballet companies all over the world perform The Nutcracker during the holiday season, each with a special take on the beloved classic. The National Ballet of Canada has one of the very finest versions in the world in James Kudelka’s staging from 1995, set in 19th century Russia. With non-stop dancing and magnificent sets and costumes from Santo Loquasto, The Nutcracker is an unforgettable tribute to the imagination.

The Story

Quarreling siblings Misha and Marie attend 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 journey to lands of the Snow Queen and the Sugar Plum Fairy where they must learn to get along.

Read Full Synopsis

Nutcracker View Gallery

Five Things About The Nutcracker
  1. Marius 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. James Kudelka’s adaptation changes the focus of Hoffman’s story from a little girl, Clara, to two siblings, Marie and Misha. When we meet them they are a quarrelsome pair, constantly fighting, but as their magical journey unfolds they learn to work together. Not only do they defeat the Mouse Tsar and save their friend The Nutcracker, but they also begin the journey from childhood to adolescence.
  3. There are 57 animals in the production including 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.
  4. Unique to the National Ballet’s version, the famous Waltz of the Flowers includes a bee – an addition that features some of the most dazzling choreography in the ballet.
  5. The Nutcracker is one of the biggest and most spectacular productions in The National Ballet of Canada’s repertoire. Each show features 233 performers (50 Dancers, 98 Students, 65 Musicians, 20 Singers). The youngest are the little mice in Act I and the Lambs in Act II.

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. He composed more than 160 works in his lifetime, including symphonies, operas and concertos.

Read More

Nutcracker by the Numbers


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

The Nutcracker: nothing short of spectacular!” — National Post

“★★★★★ /5 A Christmas gift for everyone… a feast for the senses, filled with enough wonder that there is something certain to delight audiences of any age and any taste.” — Toronto Sun

“The ballet spectacle that never fails to delight young and old alike!” — 680 News


Choreography and Libretto:
James Kudelka, O.C.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Set and Costume Design:
Santo Loquasto

Lighting Design:
Jennifer Tipton

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.

Delve Deeper

Visit our news section, Ballet News + for a more in-depth look at all of our productions.

Visit Ballet News+

Story Time

Join us 45 minutes before every performance in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for Nutcracker Story Time!

Designed to enhance children's experience of the ballet, Nutcracker Story Time is an engaging, interactive telling of the magical holiday story that allows children to have a better understanding of the performance they are attending.

Set in Victorian Russia, Marie and Misha recount a wonderful holiday dream 30 years later.

Email Newsletter

Be the first to know when casting is announced by signing up for Ballet News.

Sign Up Today