It just wouldn’t feel like the holidays without The Nutcracker. The Rochester City Ballet and Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra bring this timeless tale of wonder and imagination to life. Opening night is the day before Thanksgiving.

What You Need To Know

  • The Nutcracker is treasured classic for the whole family
  • The production comes to life with dazzling dancing and captivating choreography set to the backdrop of Tchaikovsky’s mesmerizing score performed by the RPO (Eastman Theatre only)
  • Rochester City Ballet’s mission is to create inspiring, entertaining and educational experiences through the art of dance

From the dancers to the costumes, The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition that is happening live at Eastman Theatre in Rochester and then next month at the Fort Hill Performing Arts Center in Canandaigua.

The graceful and fluid movements of the Rochester City Ballet is magical. Rochester City Ballet artistic director Robert Gardner has been dancing, staging and choreographing The Nutcracker for 40 years.

“If you have never been to the ballet, it is a perfect ballet,” said Gardner. “It has a wonderful story about Clara and her getting her nutcracker. It’s a great holiday celebration. The music is fantastic, Tchaikovsky. The choreography is brilliant. It takes you on a journey.”

Irondequoit native Megan Kamler started ballet at age 4, a professional by 13. She’s been with the Rochester City Ballet for 11 years. She’ll perform the Sugar Plum Fairy and Dewdrop Fairy — her favorite of all-time.

“The RPO really makes the magic come to life. This is the one that you can count on having every year, so it really feels like home and it’s kind of a nice way to like measure, OK hey like I’m still loving ballet and I’m still and it still feels great,” said Megan Kalmer.  “It just brings the whole Christmas spirit alive and it’s home and it feels and you’re always with your friends too, so it’s nice.”

There is so much happening behind the scenes to make the Rochester City Ballet and Rochester Philharmonic, Orchestra Nutcracker performance as good as it is.

“We have become like a family throughout the process so from the production crew to the costume and volunteers helping us sew and the dancers and musicians. It is a lot of work, but that’s why we get so excited to share that love on the stage," said Rochester City Ballet managing director Rachael Cierniakoski.

Ten performances are scheduled. It opens next Wednesday. The Nutcracker performances include 18 Rochester City Ballet professionals and more than 200 ballet dancers of all ages.

If you'd like to see the show live, you can purchase tickets at