When one thinks of ballet, it’s likely that the images dancing in their head are ones of Sugar Plum Fairies from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. And nothing says the holidays are upon us like the annual performances of The Nutcracker, like the one the New Jersey Ballet Company has been putting on for 50 years.
The Nutcracker is one of the most frequently performed ballets of all time, and is often performed around the holidays, because the first act takes place at a Christmas party.
The New Jersey Ballet’s Nutcracker has been running since 1971. It all started at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, but after a fire destroyed the theatre in 1980, the show went on the road. COVID forced a live shutdown of the show last year, but NJ Ballet put together a virtual performance.
This year, the show returned to the stage before a live audience to celebrate NJ Ballet’s 50th anniversary of performing The Nutcracker. Throughout the decades the NJ Ballet has performed the holiday favorite in more than 900 performances in theatres across the Garden State. And you can still catch a performance at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown until December 26.
By the numbers, NJ Ballet’s Nutcracker has set the stage for more than 6,000 dancers and children and performed before more than a million viewers. The show is such a tradition that many who performed or watched as children, now bring their children and grandchildren to see the show each year.
What better way to ring in the holidays than with the magical performance of The Nutcracker! My colleague, Jesse North, and I went to The Levoy Theatre in Millville, NJ to find out more about the show and its history.
The pandemic had sidelined Jesse and me and our series for Discover Jersey Arts. But we got going again this summer. You can check out some of our recent episodes, including a feature about A New View Camden, one about Crossroads Festival Theatre, and one about Alice in Slasherland at Centenary Stage.