San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker To Be Socially Distanced

09/02/2020

Public is Invited to Suggest a Virtual Venue

Although the specific media of presentation is yet to be determined, San Francisco Ballet has announced this year's Nutcracker will join the throng of online and virtual dance performances, classes, films, and workshops made necessary by the pandemic. The continued restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center to public audiences through December 31, 2020 were given as reasons for the decision. The announcement follows the return of the Company's dancers to the San Francisco Ballet studios late last month to attend socially distanced company classes.

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson's Nutcracker. (© Erik Tomasson)
San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson's Nutcracker. (© Erik Tomasson)

San Francisco Ballet presented the first American performance of Nutcracker in 1944 during difficult wartime scarcities. The annual performance has become a beloved tradition, attracting more than 75,000 people each Christmas season. The current production, by Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson, has been performed since 2004. "Nutcracker is a tradition that I look forward to each year," says Tomasson. 

Helgi Tomasson. Photo © Erik Tomasson
Helgi Tomasson. Photo © Erik Tomasson

"It brings out the child in every one of us, and for me personally it brings me back to my childhood in Iceland, where the singing, music, and games each holiday season are still vivid in my mind. Here in San Francisco, I cherish seeing a new group of children from the School learn roles for these performances, beaming and looking forward to their appearance on the big stage. We are a family of dancers, students, and loyal patrons that come together for these performances each year. Even though we will not be able to experience Nutcracker in person this year due to the health crisis, I know San Francisco Ballet will be a part of the Bay Area's holiday tradition, maybe digitally or through other creative avenues. Perhaps all of this will make our reunion next year all the more special."

San Francisco Ballet School Students in Tomasson's Nutcracker (© Erik Tomasson)
San Francisco Ballet School Students in Tomasson's Nutcracker (© Erik Tomasson)

The annual Nutcracker includes every one of San Francisco Ballet's dancers and more than 160 students of the San Francisco Ballet School. "I know it is a great disappointment for the students not to be able to perform in Nutcracker," says San Francisco Ballet School Director Patrick Armand. "It is such a wonderful opportunity for them to perform on stage with the Company, and something that our School families look forward to as part of the holiday celebration each season. At this time we must put their health and wellbeing as the first priority, but we will look forward to being back together in our beautiful theater when we can."

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson's Nutcracker (© Erik Tomasson)
San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson's Nutcracker (© Erik Tomasson)

As for the attraction of a virtual performance, Executive Director Kelly Tweeddale says, "San Francisco Ballet experienced a record number of people-over one and a half million-streaming and accessing content as part of the SF Ballet @ Home platform created shortly after the San Francisco shelter-in-place order closed our performance venue. We are exploring options and working with our artists and our digital archives to see what might be possible. Being able to continue the Nutcracker tradition, especially in a digital environment, would be an apt reflection of our community."

The exact form of this year's virtual Nutcracker is as-yet undetermined. San Francisco Ballet has invited the public to contribute their ideas and opinions of how they would like to continue the Nutcracker this holiday season in a survey

San Francisco Ballet will announce more information regarding plans for digital offerings of Nutcracker and other virtual events in December 2020 as they become available. Patrons are encouraged to visit the SF Ballet website, sign up for E-news, follow on social media, or contact Ticket and Patron Services at tickets@sfballet.org for the latest news.