A merry, happy, holly-jolly Christmas to everyone celebrating!

This is one of those days when—as we sit in a pile of wrapping paper debris, snuggly in our snowflake onesies, eating delicious cookies and celebrating the end (or near-end) of an insane Nutcracker season—we can't help but be intensely grateful for all the good things in our lives. It's a day for feeling feelings.

And here's a dance story that—partly because it involves people who aren't able to enjoy the comforts of home on Christmas—might make you shed a holiday tear or two.

Today, Lincoln Center is hosting a broadcast of New York City Ballet's production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. It's not the first time this has happened; the Nut performance has already aired twice in U.S. theaters over the past few weeks as part of the Lincoln Center at the Movies series.

But today's broadcast is different. It's being beamed to about 400,000 members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families, who are serving abroad in 175 countries and U.S. territories.

So, nearly half a million service men and women—people spending Christmas in Afghanistan and Iraq and even on naval ships in the middle of the ocean—will have their holidays brightened by one of the world's greatest ballets, danced by some of the world's greatest artists.

Snow has never made us feel so warm inside. (NYCB in Nutcracker; photo by Paul Kolnik)

Goodness, I must have a Christmas cookie crumb stuck in my eye. You too? So weird.

Happy holidays, everyone.

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Looking for some dance inspiration? Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is beaming no fewer than FOUR works, including the beloved classic Revelations, to a movie theater near you this Thursday, October 22!

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Linda Celeste Sims in Wayne McGregor's Chroma. Photo by Paul Kolnik

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to Revelations, theatergoers and dance lovers alike will also get the chance to view Chroma by Wayne McGregor, Grace by Ronald K. Brown and Takeademe by Robert Battle, AAADT's artistic director.

This screening is part of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ exciting new cinema series, Lincoln Center at the Movies: Great American Dance, which also includes performances from San Francisco Ballet, Ballet Hispanico and New York City Ballet. Check out the news section of our November issue for more info.

To purchase tickets, visit fathomevents.com or participating theater box offices.

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Big ballet news today! American Ballet Theatre just announced a transatlantic "dancer exchange."

OK, yes, when I first heard that, I started hyperventilating a little. Were any of my darling ABT people going to be, uh, "traded" to some European team?

But fear not: This exchange is for a few guest performances only, giving audiences on both sides of the Atlantic a taste of world-class dancers they may have never seen before.

Here's how it's going to go down:

This June, Royal Ballet principal dancer Steven McRae will perform as Lankendem in ABT's Le Corsaire, and this July, Royal Danish Ballet principal Alban Lendorf (he's AMAZING, guys) will dance Prince Désiré in ABT's Sleeping Beauty. That's round one.

Then for round two, in December, ABT will send principal Cory Stearns to the Royal Ballet and soloist Isabella Boylston (one of our favorites!) to the Royal Danish Ballet, to dance in their respective Nutcrackers.

Whew.

Anyway, sounds pretty nifty, right? And if you're not familiar with any of these great dancers, check out our slideshow below!

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I feel like we lost a part of our collective childhood yesterday when Maurice Sendak passed away. Who didn't grow up loving his slightly twisted, often hilarious, and always beautiful books?

While he was best known for Where the Wild Things Are and his other illustrated stories, Sendak contributed to the dance world, too. Today the L.A. Times remembers his set designs, which include the fantastical sets he made for Pacific Northwest Ballet's The Nutcracker in 1983. Apparently Sendak was initially hesitant about taking on the project—"Who in the world needed another Nutcracker?" he asked—but eventually he fell in love with the ballet. And thank goodness, because his designs are (predictably) wonderful. From the bold, graphic tree to the creature-like Nutcracker, they're just so Sendak. (When he saw them, New York City Ballet co-founder Lincoln Kirstein wrote to PNB: "I have seen the designs for your Nutcracker by Maurice Sendak. I thought they were absolutely magnificent and I was filled with a violent greed and envy.")

This video gives a sense of what the Nutcracker sets, which PNB still uses, look like in action. RIP, Mr. Sendak; thank you for sharing your world of wild things and wonder with us.

Olympic gymnast, recent Mirror Ball Trophy winner and all-around adorable human Laurie Hernandez has gifted us the most AMAZING holiday present of all time: a video of her stopping by New York City Ballet to learn a dance from The Nutcracker. 🙌

The video, shot by Teen Vogue, shows principal Lauren Lovette leading Hernandez in a barre warmup (along with other NYCB dancers) and then teaching Hernandez a bit of the Sugarplum Fairy's variation. Obviously Hernandez's technique isn't ballerina-worthy, but she's a great student and super eager to learnit's clear her passion for dance is 💯. (She also SLAYS the #studiostyle game. Polka dotted tights?! Yes, Laurie, YES.)

Check out the full video of her visit below, including her final solo performance on the iconic David H. Koch stage at Lincoln Center. It's the gift that keeps on givingreplay to your heart's desire. (Seriously, it never gets old.)

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Jack onstage in The Nutcracker (Peter Mueller, courtesy Cincinnati Ballet)

Some dance stories inspire you; some make you grin uncontrollably; some make you a little bit teary. The best do all three. And this is one of the best: Yesterday, 7-year-old Jack Barlow became the first child with Down syndrome to perform in Cincinnati Ballet's production of The Nutcracker.

For four years, Jack has been part of the wonderful Ballet Moves program, a collaboration between the Cincinnati Ballet and Cincinnati Children's Hospital that addresses the needs of kids with Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. The program includes ballet classes tailored to those children, with a therapist on hand to customize each activity.

As reported by Fort Thomas Matters, Jack became so enthusiastic about ballet that his mom joked to the Cincinnati Ballet director of education about moving to Russia to further his dance training. The director's response? " 'Maybe he should be in The Nutcracker.' "

Fast-forward to last night, when Jack made his debut as Party Boy No. 1. "This is bigger than Jack being in The Nutcracker," his mom told Fort Thomas Matters. "It speaks volumes for inclusion. It speaks volumes for the confidence the Cincinnati Ballet has in people with disabilities. This is a culmination of so many wonderful factors.”

Get to know Jack a little better via WCPO Cincinnati's report, below. Those of you in the Cincinnati area can see Jack onstage with Cincinnati Ballet again at 2 pm this Saturday, December 17. That is, if you can get a seat—we have a feeling it'll be a very, very hot ticket.

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Winter's in full swing, which means Sundays are now reserved for watching your favorite dance videos on repeat. We've done the hard work for you and rounded up the best of the best. From full-length ballets to competition drama, there's something for everyone. Check it out and happy #LazySunday!

For the Bunheads:

Need an extra shot of Christmas spirit? Cozy up with a mug of hot chocolate and watch New York City Ballet's entire 1993 production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker.

 

For the Commercial Queens and Kings: 

It's no secret that anything Tim Milgram touches turns to gold, and this collab with Lindsay Nelko, Jade Chenowyth, Anthony Westlake and Noah Tratree is no exception (not to mention, one of our all-time favorites).

For the Competition and Convention Lovers: 

Comp kids, your dedication is unrivaled. After spending weekends hopping from state to state and ballroom to ballroom, you deserve to unwind. And our original series, "The Road to Nationals," is the perfect way to do that. Check it out here.

 

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There's about to be a new Nutcracker in town—and by "in town," I mean "in movie theaters."

This weekend, it came out that Disney is developing a big-screen version of the holiday classic. But if you're imagining animated mice and snowflakes and sugar plums—or an expanded version of the vaguely creepy Fantastia "Nutcracker" sequence, with its dancing mushrooms—think again. Instead, the new project, titled The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, will be a live-action film directed by Lasse Hallstrom.

Hallstrom is the guy behind films like What's Eating Gilbert Grape and The Cider House Rules, which aren't exactly light, kid-friendly fare. So this Nutcracker might be more shadowy than your average ballet company's production. (It sounds like the script will draw from E.T.A. Hoffman's original story, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, more heavily than most ballets do—and good grief, that story is all kinds of intense.)

But...will there be any dancing involved? Will we hear bits and pieces of Tchaikovsky's score? Will this Nutcracker movie be as terribly terrible as The Nutcracker in 3D, which even Elle Fanning couldn't save? Will the film siphon audiences away from ballet productions, or will the whole thing be good for the ballet world? Will Macaulay Culkin make a cameo?? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

They can't get rid of the snow scene...can they? (New York City Ballet in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. Photo by Paul Kolnik.)

No cast or release date info yet, but we'll keep you posted!

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