Yuko Horisawa and James Cunningham, photo by Scott Rasmussen

Grand Rapids Ballet to Present The Nutcracker Before Live Audiences for First Time since 2019

Dancers Return to DeVos Performance Hall After 24 Months for Holiday Favorite

Jessica Meldrum
Dec. 1, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Dec. 1, 2021Grand Rapids Ballet (GRB), Michigan’s only professional ballet company, is returning to DeVos Performance Hall after 24 months for the holiday favorite, “The Nutcracker,” taking place December 10-12 and 17-19, 2021.

Grand Rapids Ballet’s Company dancers adorn the stage at DeVos Performance Hall with beautiful sets and beloved characters including Clara, Drosselmeyer, the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Cavalier, and of course, the Nutcracker Prince, to name a few. The production also features Tchaikovsky’s magical score, performed live by the Grand Rapids Symphony with vocals by Grand Valley State University’s Department of Music.

“We are so excited to be back after two years away from the stage at DeVos Performance Hall, performing Nutcracker live with the Grand Rapids Symphony,” said James Sofranko, artistic director at Grand Rapids Ballet. “For professional dancers, the tradition of ‘The Nutcracker’ is in our blood, we can’t imagine the holidays without it. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to dance for live audiences again, and it’s very special to return with this production that means so much to our organization’s history and our community. After enduring a pandemic that has upended so much of our daily life, we hope that ‘The Nutcracker’ will remind us all of the beauty and joy that life can offer!”

“The Nutcracker” was reimagined in 2014 by GR-native, Chris Van Allsburg, author of “The Polar Express,” and features set designs by Eugene Lee, a Tony Award®-winner for productions including “The Lion King” (1998), and “Wicked” (2004), among others.

Grand Rapids Ballet’s Company dancers, consisting of professional dancers from across the globe, share the stage with students from Grand Rapids Ballet School who all come together to perform captivating choreography by Val Caniparoli, one of America’s most renowned choreographers.

“We are an extension of your community,” said Company dancer Nathan Young. “When you come to see Grand Rapids Ballet, you are seeing Grand Rapids community members who live close to you and nearby. All we want to do is share our talent with people in Michigan. We thrive on your support and applause, which is how we can keep this classical art form alive.”

For audience members who are not able to attend an in-person performance, Grand Rapids Ballet is offering a virtual option for only $25. The virtual performance will be available following opening night and can be viewed multiple times from the comfort of home through January 2, 2022.

For an added experience, Grand Rapids Ballet is once again hosting a one-of-a-kind holiday celebration, made just for kids on Sunday, December 12. Clara’s Nutcracker Party is a joyous event where children can meet their favorite characters from Grand Rapids Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” in a fun and festive fantasy land at Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. This incredible holiday experience includes a fun arts and crafts activity, tea and brunch, a reading of “The Nutcracker” tale, and a live performance by the Grand Rapids Ballet School.

“The Nutcracker” runs for two weekends with tickets starting at just $20 online, via phone at (616) 454-4771 ext. 10, or in-person at GRB’s Box Office. The Nutcracker is sponsored by Foster Swift and Meijer.

Looking ahead to 2022, Grand Rapids Ballet is celebrating 50 years of lifting the human spirit through the art of dance and will return to DeVos Performance Hall in February for “Cinderella.”


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