San Francisco Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’ is one of the most magical shows that you’ll ever see on the West Coast. From fairytale costumes to enchanting music and breathtaking dancers, there are plenty of moments and surprises for everyone. If you are still on the fence about seeing it this year, we thought we’d share seven fun facts to reveal why this is a must-see in San Francisco.
1) On Christmas Eve 1944, San Francisco Ballet was the FIRST American ballet company to perform Nutcracker.
The first-ever performance of Nutcracker was at the Imperial Mariinsky Theater in Russia on December 18, 1892. After the enormous success of this production in San Francisco, Nutcracker instantly became a holiday tradition that spread across the country. Since then, SF Ballet has debuted new productions of it in 1944, 1954, 1967, and 2004. The newest version (that you’ll see this year) was created by current Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson.
2) Over 300 costumes appear throughout the performance.
Talk about magic! Not only is there a show on stage, there is incredible choreography backstage (at a fast tempo!) that is overseen by the amazing wardrobe team. This group of talented people helps the dancers get in and out of their costumes in a flash while also keeping all of the 300 outfits organized. The Snow Queen’s costume alone took over 80 hours to make. Imagine how many total hours it has taken to create all 300 outfits. Wow!
3) 600 pounds of the “snow” falls during the productions.
During the first half of the performance, a large group of dancers performs the famous Snowflake Waltz while a flurry of snow falls upon them. By flurry, we mean blizzard. There is SO much snow! 600 pounds of this “snow” is suspended from 50-foot troughs above the stage. Six stagehands use rope pulleys to shake the “snow” loose while large fans blow from the sides to create the wintry swirls. The view from the audience is absolutely mesmerizing! The dancers are even known to wear older ballet shoes to avoid slipping on all the snow on stage, although it has happened!
4) Major American ballet companies generate around 40% of their annual ticket revenues from performances of Nutcracker.
Your ticket will help fund SF Ballet’s upcoming season but make sure you grab it before they are sold out! Red Curtain Addict Co-Founder, Kari Lincks Coomans worked for San Francisco Ballet and spent time in their Box Office. “It is one of the busiest times of the year! I would take over 200 calls per day and assist patrons who wanted to see this legendary show for themselves.” As the performances get closer, the demand heightens, making the prices fluctuate. Our best advice is to get your tickets as soon as you can! If the show sells out, call the box office on the day you’re wanting to attend and ask for the standing room tickets. They are around $20.
5) The iconic Christmas tree grows to be over 30 feet tall.
When young Clara falls asleep and starts to have her famous Christmas dream, the set expands and rises from the stage to make it look as if she has shrunk. The spectacular tree grows to be over 30 feet high leaving only a few feet left from the ceiling. This is when the Nutcracker Prince appears and his mini army. Clara, the tiny soldiers and mice are students from the San Francisco Ballet School who train all year for this special run of performances.
6) SF Ballet gives out special gifts to kids at their Family Performances along with fun photo ops!
If you have kids, make sure to look for their five Family Performances! The first 500 children (ages 5-12) to arrive on these dates receive a special gift and everyone enjoys complimentary beverages and treats at intermission. To find out which performance are Family Performances, visit their calendar page and select the dates that say “Family Added Value Performance”. For 30 minutes only, starting one hour prior to curtain, Nutcracker characters are available for photos, so arrive early and bring your camera. There are also plenty of perks for date nights, VIP Box Suite parties and more.
7) You can contribute towards tickets for underserved families!
San Francisco Ballet’s Children’s Enchantment Fund (CHEF) brings joyful new faces to our Nutcracker performances by distributing tickets to 27,000 children and their families to attend San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker who otherwise couldn’t attend. They are also helping families in the North Bay that were affected by the fires, in the hopes of bringing joy to a challenging holiday season.