When John McFall joined Atlanta Ballet as only its third artistic director in 1994, one of his first orders of business was to create a new “Nutcracker” production for the city of Atlanta.
This December, Atlanta Ballet will celebrate the 20th anniversary of McFall’s production, which has not only become an Atlanta Ballet staple, but a centerpiece of the city’s holiday festivities.
For more than 35 years prior, Atlanta Ballet had been performing the famed George Balanchine version, making it one of the first in the country to ever present the holiday classic. But despite the long-standing tradition, McFall felt it was important to have a signature production that was reflective of the city’s culture and its people. What he created was a “Nutcracker” that, in his own words, was “traditional yet new, familiar yet different, classic yet contemporary and above all, magical.”
Every year since then he has added a special touch to the production in an effort to keep it vibrant and fresh, which over the years has included dancing pink pigs (in tribute to the Rich’s Pink Pig, another Atlanta holiday tradition) falling snow, pyro displays, and even actual magic by famed illusionist Drew Thomas, which remains in the production today.
Set in the elaborate Moorish décor of the historic Fox Theatre, this unique production of the beloved “Nutcracker” tale takes 20 pounds of snow, eight tons of scenery, lighting, and props, and a 38-foot-tall Christmas tree to make the magic of Marya’s unbelievable story come to life.
Each year, Atlanta Ballet invites more than 200 Atlanta area school children to perform alongside 23 professional company members and four company apprentices in this holiday spectacular.
“For five decades now, Atlanta Ballet has been presenting Nutcracker, and we’ve become a holiday tradition for many families in Atlanta,” said McFall. “It’s an honor, but also a great responsibility. Each year we want to make sure we preserve the tradition, but also keep the magic and the mystery alive. We are thoughtful about each change we make and confident that it will ultimately make for a more enchanting experience.”
“Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker” runs for 19 performances Dec. 11 – 27 at the Fox Theatre.
In commemoration of the 20th anniversary, the Company will kick-off of the “Nutcracker” season with a celebratory red carpet opening night, the first in a series of special events to honor McFall and his contributions to the organization before he steps down at the end of the 2015-16 season.
Performance tickets start as low as $25 and are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 855-ATL-TIXX, in person at the Fox Theatre Box Office and the Atlanta Ballet Box Office, or online at http://www.atlantaballet.com. For groups of ten or more, call Atlanta Ballet Group Sales at 404-873-5811, ext. 207. For additional information on “Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker,” visit www.atlantaballet.com.
2015 Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker Special Events:
Friday, Dec. 11 – 7:30 p.m.: Red Carpet Opening Night/20th anniversary celebration
Thursday, Dec. 17 – 7:30 p.m.: Girls’ Night Out
Friday, Dec. 18 – Sunday, Dec. 20: Atlanta Ballet’s “Give Back” Weekend
Atlanta Ballet’s 2015 “Toys for Tots” Holiday Toy Drive:
Beginning Nov. 2 through December 19, drop off a new, unwrapped toy at Atlanta Ballet’s Michael C. Carlos Dance Centre during regular business hours or the Fox Theatre during any performance of Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker in support of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.
Donation Dates: Monday, Nov. 2 – Saturday, Dec. 19
Atlanta Ballet’s Michael C. Carlos Dance Centre (Monday, Nov. 2 – Thursday, Dec. 17)
1695 Marietta Boulevard, NW, Atlanta, 30318
Toys will be collected during normal business hours. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Saturday
(Marked bins will be located in the lobby.)
The Fox Theatre (Friday, Dec. 11 – Saturday, Dec. 19)
660 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, 30308
Toys will be collected during all performances of Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker
(Marked bins will be located in the arcade and lobby of the theatre.)
“Toys for Tots” is an initiative of the U.S. Marine Corps. Atlanta Ballet’s donation will directly support the North Atlanta chapter of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.
2015 Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker Teas at the Four Seasons Atlanta
Special memories are created when dancers from Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker perform their vignette and the Nutcracker story is read aloud during tea time. Delightful sweets, seasonal sandwiches will be served and children will decorate holiday cookies with Four Seasons’ chefs.
Sunday, Dec. 13 – 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 20 – 2:00 p.m.
For reservations, contact The Four Seasons Atlanta at 404-253-3840 or visit http://www.fourseasonsatlanta.com.
Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker
Performance Dates: Friday, December 11 – Sunday, December 27 (19 Performances)
Venue: The Fox Theatre – 660 Peachtree Street Northeast Atlanta, 30308
Performance Description: The tradition continues with the magical return of Atlanta Ballet artistic director John McFall’s perennial treat, Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker. This family favorite will bring the holiday season to life with exquisite dancing, fanciful characters, and a thrilling trip into the Sugar Candy Kingdom. Perfect for all ages, Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker will delight and spark the imagination of the child within us all. All performances also live with the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra. Contact: (404) 817-8700 or http://www.atlantaballet.com