The Nutcracker is a simple enough story: A little girl named Clara receives a nutcracker for Christmas, which transforms into a handsome prince on Christmas Eve just as an army of invading mice arrives. With the help of gingerbread soldiers, they save the day and have a giant party in the kingdom of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Seem like a simple holiday fantasy, but New York’s dance companies have created their own interpretations of the story and choreography. Here’s how we do The Nutcracker in New York City.

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Nutcracker Rouge

Is it getting hot in here, or is it just the sultry cast of Company XIV? Austin McCormick’s company of multi-talented artists span vaudeville, burlesque, circus, opera and ballet, and they use all of it to present a Baroque-style Nutcracker that’s sensual and opulent that takes the coming-of-age story and makes it a story of sexual awakening. Their new custom-built Bushwick theater provides the perfect theater-meets-nightclub setting and has expanded the troupe’s creative horizons. Even watching the show is a treat: VIPs can lounge on their own couch while sipping champagne. Nov. 18-Jan. 13, 2019, Théâtre XIV, 383 Troutman St., Brooklyn, tickets start at $65, companyxiv.com

the nutcracker in new york city adaptations christmas things to do in nyc

 

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

The absolute classic production — not to mention the most spectacular one — lives at Lincoln Center. Each night, a cast of 90 New York City Ballet dancers and more than 60 children from the School of American Ballet present George Balanchine’s classic choreography in an epic production full of magic — how else do you create an onstage snowstorm and have a 9-foot-wide dancing Mother Ginger? Nov. 23-Dec. 30, David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza, $90 and up, nycballet.com

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The Yorkville Nutcracker

The original Russian production of The Nutcracker premiered in 1892 — and somehow wasn’t a hit. With considerably more critical acclaim, Francis Patrelle’s playful version sets the story in 1895 New York City instead and casts dancers of all ages for a professional production with the warmth and inclusivity of community theater. Starting with a holiday party at Gracie Mansion, the delightful spectacle includes a midnight skate in Central Park, a sleigh ride to the New York Botanical Garden’s glittering Crystal Palace. Dec. 6-9, The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, 695 Park Ave., $55-$65, dancespatrelle.org

Keith Michael's The Nutcracker

At just an hour long, the New York Theatre Ballet’s The Nutcracker is a kid-friendly steampunk wonder. Clockwork characters and a flying mechanical owl are just some of the wonders brought to life by Keith Michael and his company. The score and dancing are classic, but everything else gets a playful twist, from the Art Nouveau set to mice dressed in polka dots (the Metropolitan Opera’s Sylvia Taalsohn Nolan designed the costumes). Dec. 14-16, Florence Gould Hall, 55 E. 59th St., $26, nytb.org

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The Hard Nut

Named for a story within The Nutcracker, The Hard Nut is the Mark Morris Dance Group’s retro homage that blends modern, ballet and folk dancing. The ‘70s setting and pop art scenery by cartoonish Charles Burns prime you for a playful production with modern touches like a Barbie doll and G.I. Joe action figures, genderfluid casting and a 53-piece orchestra. It’s a wholly theatrical affair that remains faithful to the original story. Dec. 14-23, Peter Jay Sharp Building at BAM, 30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn, tickets from $35, bam.org

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The Brooklyn Nutcracker

The borough is well represented in the Brooklyn Ballet’s multicultural take on The Nutcracker, swapping in a belly dancer, Caribbean moves, a Native American hoop dancer and a hip-hopping Herr Drosselmeyer as the “magical, crazy uncle,” in the words of the show’s director and choreographer Lynn Parkerson. High-tech costumes twinkle as the action skips much of the original show’s trappings (including chunks of Tchaikovsky’s score) in favor of reveling in the fantasy. Go with the flow, as Brooklyn teaches, and you’ll be rewarded. Dec. 14, Kings Theatre, 1027 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, tickets from $40, brooklynballet.org

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Hip-Hop Nutcracker

What started out in 2014 at the United Palace of Cultural Arts has become a nationwide touring phenomenon. The Hip-Hop Nutcracker swaps ballet for street dancing and sets the story of Maria-Clara right here in New York City, remixing Tchaikovsy's original score with beats by Kurtis Blow. Leaving a street party one night, she falls for a street vendor, and together they defeat an army of giant mice with the help of a pair of enchanted sneakers he finds hanging off a lamppost. You know, just another night in New York. Dec. 23, Kings Theatre, 1027 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, tickets from $29.50, ticketmaster.com

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