The Dance Journal’s Annual Holiday Guide 2017

by Steven Weisz for The Dance Journal

With its unforgettable music, enchanting story and the vivid imagery, “The Nutcracker” has become synonymous with the holiday season. It is a classic tradition that has weathered the test of time, captivating audiences’ hearts and minds for generations. Philadelphia offers a whole host of Nutcracker productions – from dance school performances to international touring companies, local companies and of course the highly acclaimed Pennsylvania Ballet.

But in addition to the myriad of Nutcracker offerings, Philadelphia’s dance community offers up a host of other productions that have also become holiday traditions. Such are Dance Del Bello’s Christmas Carol, Eleone Dance Theater’s Carol in Colors,  Contempra Dance Theatre’s Philly-Nut-Crak-Up and some great holiday tapping by The Lady Hoofers.  Not to be left out are the renowned dancers of Philadanco led by Joan Meyers Brown in an all-new production H-I-S-T-O-R-Y, which is a must see this season.

Below is our annual guide to this season’s best. Take a moment to unplug from the television, the internet and cell phones; set aside the political differences of the day, gather up the kids and family, and start your own special holiday tradition.


Pennsylvania Ballet – George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®
December 8, 2017 – December 31, 2017
Academy of Music
Information & Tickets
Journey to the Land of the Sweets for Philadelphia’s most beloved holiday tradition. Giant mice, dancing snowflakes, a growing Christmas tree, and an enchanted nutcracker are sure to delight the inner child in everyone. Pennsylvania Ballet’s combination of amazing dancers, gorgeous sets and costumes, and fabulous live orchestra make George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® one of the greatest holiday shows in the country. Come experience this beautiful ballet that truly portrays the magic of the season.

The Rock School for Dance Education – Nutcracker 1776
November 24 & 25, 2017
Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia
Information & Tickets
Join us Nov 24th and 25th, 2017 at the Merriam Theater to inaugurate the Holiday Season with The Rock School’s acclaimed and historically inspired Nutcracker 1776. General Mouse Howe leads the infamous Rat King scene as our Sugar Plum Fairy enchants with her beautiful technical artistry. The story is led by Ben Franklin as he weaves this magical tale together with Abbey and Johnny journeying through the magical night of exquisite dancing performed by local and international students with extraordinary talent.

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker
December 18 & 19, 2017
Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut Street, Philadelphia
Tickets & Information
All ages are invited to celebrate Christmas with the Moscow Ballet company of almost 40 ballerinas and danseurs on their 25thAnniversary Tour of North America in 2017. Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker is known for its award-winning Principal Dancers, lavish costumes in the style of the Victorian era, many backdrops created by “La La Land’ Set Concept designer Carl Sprague, and its Russian focus including life-sized Matryoshka Dolls, Russian folk legends Ded Moroz (Father Christmas) and Snegurochka (Snow Maiden) and Troika Sleigh. Adults and children enjoy the special effects of the flapping winged owl on the Grandfather clock, the growing 50 ft tall Christmas Tree, the Dove of Peace with a 20ft wingspan, and of course, the leaps, spins, and extraordinary moves of the company all performed to Tchaikovsky’s complete and incomparable score.

Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet – The Nutcracker
November 17 – 19, 2017
Upper Darby Performing Arts Center, 601 N. Lansdowne Avenue, Drexel Hill, PA
Tickets & Information
Get away from it all – for 90 minutes! Take a journey with us to the Land of the Sweets! For over 25 years, the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet has been bringing the holiday classic ballet “The Nutcracker” to the stage.  A fun way for families to kick off the holiday season, the annual tradition features professional soloists and many of the region’s best dancers.  The enchanting music by Tchaikovsky is one of his best-known works and the ballet, set at Christmas time, has become an American holiday tradition.

Brandywine Ballet Presents The Nutcracker
December 8 – 17, 2017
Emilie K. Asplundh Hall, West Chester University, University Ave & High St, West Chester, PA
Tickets & Information
Join us this December for the holiday classic, The Nutcracker! Ring in the season with Tchaikovsky’s timeless score, and be transported to the magical Land of Sweets as you join Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy on the journey of a dream. This performance is one of Chester County’s signature holiday events, and features original, traditional choreography by David Kloss and Donna L. Muzio, integrated with new choreographic elements by Nancy Page. Brandywine Ballet’s eight-performance run of The Nutcracker continues to delight audiences each December with a tour de force of beauty and elegance.

Pottstown Dance Theatre – The Nutcracker
December 2 & 3, 2017
The Hill Center for the Arts, Beech and Sheridan Streets, Pottstown, PA
Tickets & Information
The Pottstown Dance Theatre repertory ensemble will be doing a full version of the family classic “The Nutcracker”.  Under the direction of Michelle Jones Wurtz, the performance will include the party scene with young dancers showing off their strong ballet technique, “Waltz of the Snowflakes”, the beloved “Waltz of the flowers”, and the other works with new lighting design, a brand new snow- scene backdrop, and other amazing stage effects.  You will absolutely fall in love with this classic, family favorite!

International Ballet Exchange presents The Nutcracker with the Donetsk Ballet
December 16 & 17, 2017
Plymouth/Whitemarsh High School, 201 E. Germantown Pike, Plymouth Meeting, PA
Tickets & Information
Eighteen professional dancers from the Donetsk Ballet Company will grace the stage with 50 area students who will dance the children’s parts in the holiday favorite, “The Nutcracker.”  Led by former superstar, Vadim Pisarev, Artistic Director, the company dazzles audiences throughout the world with their impeccable technique, athleticism, and artistry. There are only two shows.  The troupe will be returning to the Philadelphia area despite continued upheaval in their city and country.

Pages to Pirouettes – The Nutcracker
November 30, 2017, at Christ Lutheran Community Church, 7240 Walnut Street, Upper Darby, PA
December 2, 2017, at St. Pauls Luthern Church, 120 N. Easton Road, Glenside, PA
December 10, 2017, at Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia
Tickets & Information
Enjoy the tradition of The Nutcracker with Pages to Pirouettes as we perform the abridged version. We read the story and magically have it come to life through dance. An interactive program with beautiful costumes and music to the delight of audiences of all ages!

The SVRDC Nutcracker 2017
December 2 & 3, 2017
Phoenixville Area Middle School, 1000 Purple Pride Pkwy, Phoenixville, PA
Tickets & Information
Experience the wonder and joy of The Nutcracker! Sit back and enjoy Act I’s lively party scene, followed by the epic battle between the Nutcracker and Mouse King! Clara’s journey continues through the Land of Snow where she meets the Snow King and Queen and their dancing Snowflakes. In Act II, she travels to the Land of Sweets, where she is greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier who have prepared a feast of dancing sweets and treats! The whole family will find something to love in this classic production! Featuring over 40 local dancers and actors, as well as guest artists in the roles of the Sugarplum Fairy and her Cavalier.

Philadelphia Dance Theatre – A Philadelphia Nutcracker
November 24 & 25, 2017
The Kurtz Center, Wm. Penn Charter School,3000 W. School House Lane, Philadelphia
Tickets & Information
The company’s artistic director, Joy Delaney Capponi, conceived a production of “The Nutcracker” that reflects the historic community and neighborhood.

The Philadelphia Dance Academy’s 8th Annual Nutcracker
December 16 & 17, 2017
Mandell Theater, 3220 Chestnut St, Philadelphia
Tickets & Information
The Philadelphia Dance Academy, now in its 13th season, and its youth performance company, The Philadelphia Youth Ballet, celebrate their 8th annual production of the Nutcracker: the popular ballet that has become a holiday classic throughout the world. Our production of the Nutcracker features performances by Dance Academy students, Youth Ballet members, and professional guest artists.

Delaware Valley Dance Academy’s The Nutcracker
December 1 & 2, 2017
Calvary Church, 820 Route 113, Souderton, PA
Tickets & Information
Join us for this favorite holiday treat set to Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score and performed by over 100 of the area’s finest dancers. After dancing the night away at her family’s holiday party, Clara embarks on a thrilling adventure that takes her into battle with giant mice, through an enchanted forest and into the magical Land of Sweets. DVDA’s Nutcracker is a festive and magical way to ring in the holiday season and to introduce children to the power and beauty of ballet. Children from 3 to 93 will be mesmerized by the costumes, beautiful music and exceptional dancing in this lavish production.

Bryn Mawr Film Institute – The Nutcracker (film)
December 17, 2017
Bryn Mawr Film Institute, 824 W. Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA
Tickets & Information
Peter Wright’s nigh-on definitive production for The Royal Ballet ranks as one of the most enduring and enchanting versions of The Nutcracker. With its festive period setting, dancing snowflakes and enchanting stage magic, Lev Ivanov’s 1892 ballet has become the perfect Christmas entertainment, with Tchaikovsky’s sumptuous, sugar-spun music the most recognizable of all ballet scores.


Philadanco: H-I-S-T-O-R-Y
December 15 – 17, 2017
Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center, 300 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19102
Tickets & Information
Bringing the incomparable legacy of African American choreographers to the Perelman stage, PHILADANCO founder Joan Myers Brown has crafted a performance that highlights a past often left out of the history books. With pieces including “Walking with Pearl” about historic choreographer and dancer Pearl Primus; a world premiere ballet entitled “Pieces of My Heart,” choreographed by Sonia Dawkins and based on the poems of renowned writer August Wilson; work from choreographer Geoffrey Holder; “Forces of Rhythm” from The Wiz choreographer and Tony Award winner Louis Johnson; and more.

ContempraDANCE Theatre’s “Philly Nutt Crak-Up”

December 15 – 17, 2017
Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA   19106
Tickets & Information
By popular demand, ContempraDANCE Theatre’s “Philly Nutt Crak-Up” is back at Painted Bride for another season of sheer entertainment. Join the infamous Rappin SugarPlum Fairy, battling Hip Hoppin Rats, City Hall Dolls, Captain Philadelphia and Liberty Belle-Anne, as they are sure to amaze audiences with this “nutty” take-off of the classic Nutcracker.  Philly Nutt Crak-Up is based on an original rap song written by the SugarPlum Fairy herself. With her, you will travel to the Kingdom of Prussia and witness feats of theatrical entertainment including superheroes, kung-fu fighting, dancing and performances by the Penn’s Angels and our very own Rocky with the South Street Rocky-Ettes. “Wonder Woman” will also return this year with supercharged battling power to entertain you!

Dance Del Bello – A Christmas Carol
December 3, 2017
Zlock Performing Arts Center at Bucks County Community College, 275 Swamp Road, Newtown, PA
Tickets & Information
Dance Del Bello presents David Kloss’ captivating interpretation of the holiday classic “A Christmas Carol”. The Charles Dickens tale comes to life through dance in this beautiful, high-spirited ballet. Journey through time on one magical night as three mysterious visitors help Ebenezer Scrooge come to discover the true meaning of Christmas.

The Lady Hoofers – The Tapcracker
December 9, 2017
Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia
Tickets & Information
In celebration of our 5th Anniversary, The Lady Hoofers are proud to present The Tapcracker, a full length, all tap version of the classic holiday favorite. Set to the music of both Tchaikovsky and Duke Ellington, The Tapcracker will transport audiences to Paris, where an infestation of rats has thrown the city into chaos. Toy soldiers guard the Eiffel Tower, mice wreak havoc in the Metro, and frazzled chefs prepare for a feast at the magical palace of Versailles, featuring characters from the beloved Land of the Sweets. After several years of sold out performances at the Performance Garage, the company will be moving to the Suzanne Roberts Theater on Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts, thanks in part to a grant from The Philadelphia Cultural Fund. The Tapcracker will feature The Lady Hoofers First Company, Apprentice Dancers, and 2017 Youth Ensemble, comprised of talented students from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

December 26 – 31, 2017
Tickets & Information
Merriam Theater, 250 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19102
The Kimmel Center is ecstatic to welcome back STOMP, the international percussion sensation, to the Merriam Theater from Tuesday December 26 through Sunday, December 31, 2017. STOMP started as a street performance in the UK and has grown into an international sensation over the past 25 years. It has performed in more than 50 countries and in front of more than 24 million people. Created by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, STOMP continues its phenomenal run with four global productions: the ongoing sell-out production at New York’s Orpheum Theatre, a permanent London company, and North American and European tours. Throughout its life, the show has continued to change by creating new material; next year, it will incorporate two new pieces.  It is safe to say you will never again look at supermarket carts or plumbing fixtures the same way… or paint cans, or kitchen sinks or…

Ballet 180 – Nutcracker Sweets
December 16, 2017
Rotwitt Theater at Rosemont College, 1400 Montgomery Avenue, Rosemont, PA 19010
Tickets & Information
Please join us for a jazz-filled take on the Nutcracker’s Land of Sweets that combines live dance with delicious desserts. Great for dance fans and foodies alike! Featuring Ballet 180 professional dancers and Ballet 180 school students from Elementary levels and up.

Eleone Dance Theatre Presents 25th Anniversary of Carols in Color

The Kurtz Center for The Performing Arts, 3000 West School House Lane, Philadelphia
Tickets & Information
“Carols in Color” is a Holiday Dance Musical that retells the Gospel according to St. Matthew by using contemporary music, exuberant dance, and powerful narration. “Carols in Color” features premiere Philadelphia Vocalists under the Direction of Patrick Crawford and the Soul-Stitrring Movements of Eleone Dance Theatre, under the Direction of Dara Meredith. This production will also showcase, “Eleone Connection” the second company of Eleone Dance Theatre, “Eleone Expose”, the Student Performing Company of Eleone Dance Unlimited and Eleone Dance Unlimited Youth Ensemble. “Carols in Color” was Conceived by Leon Evans, II. Now Re-staged by Shawn-Lamere Williams and Executive Produced by Sheila A. Ward.

The Peek-a-Boo Revue – Peek-A-Nite Vintage Holiday Burlesque Show
December 17, 2017
***NOT for children
World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia
Tickets & Information
The Peek-A-Boo Revue is bringing you Peek-At-Nite, a vintage holiday burlesque show! Prepare to have your dials turned and antennas adjusted because their twirling tassels, luscious eyelashes, and bare asses are going to rev up your holiday spirit. Behind the shimmy-shaking beauties and bawdy emcees, The Striptease Orchestra, a band of wworld-classmusicians, will heat up your soul. Join Philly’s longest running burlesque show and recent Munich Burlesque Festival headliners (yes, Munich, Germany) on December 17th at World Cafe Live!

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