There are few things so traditional, yet so current and enduring as The Nutcracker, performed annually by whatever the dominant arts organization is in a particular city. Here, it’s Ballet Austin, and it’s been going on for exactly 60 years. More than 2 million people, according to a press release, have watched this ballet, the longest-running Nutcracker production in Texas.
The ballet is carrying that holiday tradition again, from December 3-23 at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, with a special event on opening night.
No matter the company, this show famously has many children performers, and the Austin version puts a fun spin on their most memorable moment. The kids run out from the circus tent skirt of Mother Ginger, who throughout the years is played by local celebrities, including some in drag.
Over the decades, naturally, those kids grew up, and Ballet Austin is inviting some of them back. December 3 will be a “homecoming night” for cast members of past years, with a reception after the show. The organization is still gathering information from past performers on its website.
“Ballet Austin has shared this coveted family holiday tradition with our community for 60 years, and it’s something we never take for granted,” said executive director Cookie Ruiz in a press release. “We have a special opportunity this year, on our diamond anniversary, to show our appreciation for former cast members and celebrate wonderful memories. Our organization continues to celebrate the dedication and grit of our dancers.”
The 100-minute show with a 20-minute intermission is presented by the Georgia B. Lucas Foundation Fund, with choreography by Ballet Austin’s acclaimed Stephen Mills. Beyond the show itself, there will be a 20-minute talk before the show giving a behind-the-scenes look — something Ballet Austin is known for as it aims to make the fine art of ballet accessible to Austinites of all kinds.
Another offering in the form of a “self-guided interactive experience lounge,” Ballet-o-mania, will give more information on the history of the show, plus upcoming shows. Productions later in the season include Cinderella and a holocaust story called Light.
Tickets ($15-$125) are available at balletaustin.org. Audiences may also purchase tickets in groups of 20 or more by calling the audience services team at 512-476-2163.