Press Release

Press Release


San Francisco, Monday, August 24, 2020–San Francisco Ballet announces that there will be no live Nutcracker performances in December 2020. The Company’s decision comes in the wake of continued restrictions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and closure of the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center (SFWMPAC) to public audiences through December 31, 2020, as confirmed by SFWMPAC Managing Director John Caldon.

Nutcracker is a tradition that I look forward to each year,” says Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson. “It brings out the child in every one of us, and for me personally it brings me back to my childhood in Iceland, where the singing, music, and games each holiday season are still vivid in my mind. Here in San Francisco, I cherish seeing a new group of children from the School learn roles for these performances, beaming and looking forward to their appearance on the big stage. We are a family of dancers, students, and loyal patrons that come together for these performances each year. Even though we will not be able to experience Nutcracker in person this year due to the health crisis, I know San Francisco Ballet will be a part of the Bay Area’s holiday tradition, maybe digitally or through other creative avenues. Perhaps all of this will make our reunion next year all the more special.” Executive Director Kelly Tweeddale says, “San Francisco Ballet experienced a record number of people—over one and a half million—streaming and accessing content as part of the SF Ballet @ Home platform created shortly after the San Francisco shelter-in-place order closed our performance venue. We are exploring options and working with our artists and our digital archives to see what might be possible. Being able to continue the Nutcracker tradition, especially in a digital environment, would be an apt reflection of our community.”

SF Ballet presented America’s first complete performance of Nutcracker in 1944. Today, Nutcracker welcomes more than 75,000 people to the Opera House each December, generating an all-hands-on-deck approach across the organization. Every dancer on SF Ballet’s roster dances in Nutcracker, and SF Ballet School contributes more than 160 students to perform roles as Clara, Fritz, snowflakes, waltzing flowers, party children, bugs, soldiers, mice, and more. “I know it is a great disappointment for the students not to be able to perform in Nutcracker,” says SF Ballet School Director Patrick Armand. “It is such a wonderful opportunity for them to perform on stage with the Company, and something that our School families look forward to as part of the holiday celebration each season. At this time we must put their health and wellbeing as the first priority, but we will look forward to being back together in our beautiful theater when we can.”

SF Ballet’s current production of Nutcracker by Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson premiered in 2004; at its premiere, The New York Times wrote that the production is “a paean to positive thinking… Happiness is the San Francisco Ballet’s new Nutcracker.” Nutcracker is also a herculean undertaking for San Francisco Ballet’s volunteer groups. In 2018, BRAVO (Ballet Resource and Volunteer Association) volunteers logged 4,200 hours of work on Nutcracker—a record for the group, which boasts over 300 members and dates to 1976. BRAVO typically provides support backstage, in the Ballet Shop, at Family Performances, and at Club Nut, a “green room” and activity center for SF Ballet students during Nutcracker’s run.

More information regarding plans for digital offerings of Nutcracker and virtual events in December 2020 will be shared as they become available. At this time, SF Ballet invites the public to participate in a survey to share thoughts and ideas on how we can come together and continue the tradition of Nutcracker in our homes and in our community this year. Patrons are encouraged to visit the SF Ballet website, sign up for E-news, follow us on social media, or contact Ticket and Patron Services at tickets@sfballet.org for the latest news.

For photos and other press inquiries, please contact SF Ballet publicity department:
Kate McKinney, PR & Communications Manager, kmckinney@sfballet.org // 415.865.6610
You You Xia, Director of Communications, yxia@sfballet.org // 415.865.6603


San Francisco Ballet, long recognized for pushing boundaries in dance, has enjoyed a long and rich tradition of artistic “firsts” since its founding in 1933, including performing the first American productions of Swan Lake and Nutcracker, as well as the first 20th-century American Coppélia. SF Ballet is one of the three largest ballet companies in the United States and currently presents more than 100 performances annually, both locally and internationally. The mission of SF Ballet is to share its joy of dance with the widest possible audience—in its community and worldwide—and to provide the highest caliber of dance training in its School. Under the direction of Helgi Tomasson, the Company has achieved an international reputation as one of the preeminent ballet companies in the world.

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