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“Seeing the Pennsylvania Ballet at the Academy of Music is an experience from beginning to end.”

Alison Smith, Philadelphia Inquirer

 

Journey to the Land of the Sweets for Philadelphia’s most beloved holiday tradition. Giant mice, dancing snowflakes, a growing Christmas tree, and an enchanted nutcracker are sure to delight the inner child in everyone.

Pennsylvania Ballet’s combination of amazing dancers, gorgeous sets and costumes, and fabulous live orchestra make George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® one of the greatest holiday shows in the country. Come experience this beautiful ballet that truly portrays the magic of the season.

Header Image: Alexandra Hughes and Ian Hussey. Photo: © Nic D’Amico.

Video: Alexander Iziliaev. All choreography © The George Balanchine Trust.

Program Choreographers

GEORGE BALANCHINE

Choreographer

Born January 22, 1904, in St. Petersburg, Russia, George Balanchine is widely regarded as ballet’s foremost contemporary choreographer. He came to the United States in late 1933, at the age of 29, after accepting the invitation of young American arts patron Lincoln Kirstein (1907-96), of whose many great passions included the dream of creating a ballet company in America. At Balanchine’s behest, Kirstein was also prepared to support the formation of an American ballet academy, one to eventually rival the long-established schools of Europe.

This institution, and first product of the Balanchine/Kirstein collaboration, was the School of American Ballet, founded in 1934. In the years that followed, the two visionaries created several ballet companies, all of which eventually dissolved, though Balanchine continued to find other outlets for his choreography. Efforts to create a company temporarily ceased during World War II, but the two men’s unflagging devotion continued, and eventually, with a performance on October 11, 1948, the New York City Ballet was born. Balanchine served as its ballet master and principal choreographer from 1948 until his death in 1983.

Of Balanchine’s more than 400 dance works, some noted creations include Serenade (1934), Concerto Barocco (1941), Le Palais de Cristal, later renamed Symphony in C (1947), Orpheus (1948), The Nutcracker (1954), Agon (1957), Symphony in Three Movements (1972), Stravinsky Violin Concerto (1972), Vienna Waltzes (1977), Ballo della Regina (1978), and Mozartiana (1981). Balanchine’s final ballet, a new version of Stravinsky’s Variations for Orchestra, was created in 1982. He also choreographed for films, operas, revues, and musicals. Among his best-known dances for the stage is Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, originally created for Broadway’s On Your Toes (1936). The musical was later made into a movie.

A major artistic figure of the 20th century, Balanchine revolutionized the look of classical ballet. Taking classicism as his base, he heightened, quickened, expanded, streamlined, and even inverted the fundamentals of the 400-year-old language of academic dance, having an inestimable influence upon the growth of dance in America. Although, at first, his style seemed particularly suited to the energy and speed of American dancers, especially those he trained, his works are now performed by classical ballet companies throughout the world.

Founded by Balanchine student, Barbara Weisberger, Pennsylvania Ballet is a company steeped in the Balanchine style and repertoire.

Source. With edits made.

PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY

Composer

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born May 7, 1840, in Votkinsk, Russia. He began taking piano lessons at age five, and, though he displayed an early passion for music, his parents had hoped he would grow up to work in the civil service. In 1859, five years after his mother’s death from cholera, Tchaikovsky honored his parents’ wishes by taking up a bureau clerk post with the Ministry of Justice—a post he would hold for four years, during which time he grew increasingly fascinated with music. At age 21, he decided to take lessons at the Russian Musical Society and soon after enrolled at the newly founded St. Petersburg Conservatory, becoming one of the school’s first composition students. In 1863, Tchaikovsky moved to Moscow, where he became a professor of harmony at the Moscow Conservatory.

Tchaikovsky’s work was first publicly performed in 1865 at a Pavlovsk concert with Johann Strauss the Younger conducting the composer’s Characteristic Dances, and, in 1868, his First Symphony was well received when it was performed in Moscow. The following year, his first opera, The Voyevoda, was staged—though with little fanfare. His next operatic effort, Oprichnik, achieved some acclaim when it was performed at the Maryinsky in St. Petersburg in 1874, by which time Tchaikovsky had also earned praise for his Second Symphony and managed to establish himself as a talented composer of instrumental pieces with his Piano Concerto No.1 in B-flat Minor.

Acclaim came more readily for Tchaikovsky in 1875 with his composition Symphony No. 3 in D Major. At the end of that year, the composer embarked upon a tour of Europe, and, in 1876, he completed the ballet Swan Lake as well as the symphonic fantasy “Francesca da Rimini.” In 1878, Tchaikovsky resigned from the Moscow Conservatory in order to focus his efforts entirely on composing. His collective body of work comprises 169 pieces, including symphonies, operas, ballets, concertos, cantatas, and songs. Among his most noted late works are the ballets The Sleeping Beauty (1890) and The Nutcracker (1892).

Source. With edits made.

Nutcracker News & Events

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®

Philadelphia Inquirer: Pennsylvania Ballet names Shelly Power next executive director

Published on: Monday, November 20, 2017
George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®

Nutcracker Magic

Saturday, December 9, 2017 12:00PM
Kick off the holiday season at this festive family party and luncheon in the Grand Ballroom at the Bellevue followed by a matinee performance of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®.
George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®

Tea with the Sugarplum Fairy

Sunday, December 10, 2017 2:30PM
Enjoy a delicious buffet of sandwiches, desserts, tea, and hot cocoa, along with the opportunity to take photos with the Sugarplum Fairy. The day includes a magical performance of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®.
George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®

Tea with the Sugarplum Fairy

Saturday, December 16, 2017 2:30PM
Enjoy a delicious buffet of sandwiches, desserts, tea, and hot cocoa, along with the opportunity to take photos with the Sugarplum Fairy. The day includes a magical performance of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®.
George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®

Visit Philadelphia: 'Tis The Season: So Many Holiday Happenings in Philadelphia

Published on: Friday, November 10, 2017
George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®

Delaware County Magazine: Behind the Footlights: Visions of Sugarplums - George Balanchine's The Nutcracker at the Pennsylvania Ballet

Published on: Friday, November 10, 2017
George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®

Chestnut Hill Local: Viva Tchaikovsky!

Published on: Friday, September 29, 2017
George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®

Fall Arts Guide: 'Sleeping Beauty' and 11 more top dance picks for fall

Published on: Monday, September 11, 2017

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Season & Tickets

Whether you enjoy the grandeur and pageantry of full-length ballets or the breathtaking innovation of more contemporary works, our 54th season consists of a mixed repertoire designed to thrill and delight.

Meet the Ballet

Pennsylvania Ballet comprises a team of dedicated professionals—each one devoted to bringing you the most thrilling and inspired works ballet has to offer.

The School

The School of Pennsylvania Ballet offers the highest caliber dance education of any program in the Greater Philadelphia area, providing our students with exceptional technical training and unparalleled performance opportunities.