At the Ballet

53rd Annual Production

The Nutcracker

Presented by the Georgia B. Lucas Foundation Fund

From the scrumptious sets and costumes to all of the colorful characters and Divertissements you love, Ballet Austin's The Nutcracker is the longest-running production of the seasonal classic in Texas. Stephen Mills' take on this timeless tale features a cast of hundreds of dancers, including the charming and talented students from the prestigious Ballet Austin Academy who share the spotlight with our professional company of artists. Celebrate the magic of the holidays by experiencing this sweet treat with your family and friends.

Choreography by Stephen Mills
Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky
Live Accompaniment by Austin Symphony Orchestra

Celebrate with us!

The Long Center
Sat 12/5/15 7:30PM Purchase
Sun 12/6/15 2:00PM Purchase
Fri 12/11/15 7:30PM Purchase
Sat 12/12/15 2:00PM Purchase
Sat 12/12/15 7:30PM Purchase
Sun 12/13/15 2:00PM Purchase
Thu 12/17/15 7:30PM Purchase
Fri 12/18/15 7:30PM Purchase
Sat 12/19/15 2:00PM Purchase
Sat 12/19/15 7:30PM Purchase
Sun 12/20/15 2:00PM Purchase
Mon 12/21/15 2:00PM Purchase
Tue 12/22/15 2:00PM Purchase
Wed 12/23/15 2:00PM Purchase

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“With a score by Tchaikovsky, snappy choreography by Stephen Mills, and a theater full of folks decked out in their finest gear, you'll easily see why, for many, the holidays aren't complete without this experience."—Caitlin Moore, Austinist
Follow Clara’s adventures as she battles a giant Rat King and transforms her Nutcracker doll into a Prince. Together, they visit a magical land of dancing snowflakes, a Sugar Plum Fairy, and a celebration that takes her around the world in a single night.
The Long Center
Dec 6 - 23, 2014

Program Notes


The Nutcracker is an enchanting tale of holiday adventure that follows a girl’s voyage through a fantasy world of fairies, a Nutcracker Prince, toy soldiers, and an army of mice.
The journey begins at Clara’s home during her family’s Christmas Eve party. At the party, Clara receives a special gift of a wooden nutcracker from her mysterious godfather. After the guests depart and everyone is sound asleep, Clara sneaks back into the parlor to see her nutcracker once more. All of a sudden, she finds herself surrounded by a room full of fighting rats and soldiers. A battle ensues, and in the end Clara’s nutcracker transforms into a real prince! They travel together through a land filled with dancing snowflakes and a glistening Snow Queen and King.
The next stop is the kingdom of the Sugar Plum Fairy, where Clara and her Nutcracker Prince are honored for their bravery by dancers from all around the world. Suddenly, Clara awakens to find herself in her own bed, wondering if her magical adventure had really happened or had been simply just a dream.


In 1816, German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann published The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. In 1844,Alexandre Dumas (The Three Musketeers) adapted Hoffmann’s tale, which, with a few exceptions, is most like the children’s tale we see performed today.
In December, 1892, the Nutcracker ballet premiered at the Imperial Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia. The ballet was a collaboration of Marius Petipa (senior ballet master to the Tsar), PyotrIlyich Tchaikovsky (the famous Russian composer), and Lev Ivanov (Petipa's assistant, who took over choreography when Petipa fell ill).
With their 1944 staging, the San Francisco Ballet became the first American professional company to premier a full-lengthThe Nutcracker. In 1954, George Balanchine created a new staging of The Nutcracker, having performed many of the roles previously at the Mariinksy Theater in his native Russia. This version is the one American audiences are most familiar with today.
In 1956, the Austin Ballet Society (later Ballet Austin), accompanied by the Austin Symphony Orchestra performed excerpts from The Nutcracker. In 1962 Ballet Austin was the first company in Texas to perform the full-length version of the ballet.
In 1997 Ballet Austin started the tradition of inviting local celebrities to dance the role of Mother Ginger. Past Mother Gingers have included:
• Hon. Lee Leffingwell, Mayor of Austin
• Ann Richards, former Governor of Texas
• Bill Powers, President of the University of Texasat Austin
• Lance Armstrong, 7-time winner of the Tour de France
• Robert Rodriguez, film director and screenwriter
• Michael Dell, Chairman of Dell Computers
• Kinky Friedman, singer/songwriter, novelist, humorist
In 1999, Stephen Mills premiered his original version of Ballet Austin’sThe Nutcracker. This is the choreography you’ll see onstage in December.


“Just listen to the ballet’s overture. In good productions, the view of childhood that starts here, in the miniature orchestration and quick pulse of Tchaikovsky’s introduction, is enchantingly serious. Gradually the music will build in scale until you reach the colossal, slow, full-orchestral grandeur of the Sugar Plum adagio in Act Two: no ballet score has a greater span, and this shows how passionately Tchaikovsky was depicting the inner life of a child… The Nutcrackeris a musical masterpiece and, in some stagings, a theatrical masterpiece, too. As institutions go, it is one that repays revisiting.”
- Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times, Dec. 16, 2009
The musical score of The Nutcracker has become a cornerstone of Tchaikovsky’s body of work and of the Christmas experience. The score can be classified under the Romantic period of music, known for its expression and passion as opposed to any formal rules. The melodies of The Nutcracker, like the famous Russian dance or the Waltz of the Flowers, are still considered to be some of the most inventive and harmonically advanced in ballet music.
One novelty in the original score was the use of the celesta, a miniature piano named for its celestial, heavenly sound. Tchaikovsky discovered the instrument in Paris and used it intentionally to characterize the enchanting Sugar Plum Fairy.



Cast & Credits



Choreography by Stephen Mills
Music by PyotrIlyich Tchaikovsky
Costume Design by Judanna Lynn
Scenic Design by Holly Highfill
Lighting Design by Tony Tucci
Live Musical Accompaniment by the Austin Symphony Orchestra

Artist Profiles

Stephen Mills, Choreographer
Stephen Mills began his tenure as Artistic Director at Ballet Austin in 2000. Known for an innovative and highly collaborative approach to choreography, Mill’s diverse repertoire of original and interpretive works is often difficult to categorize. Notions of classical, neo-classical, and modern meld into the organic.

In 2004, The Washington Post dubbed Ballet Austin "one of America's best kept secrets" after Ballet Austin performed Mills' world premier of The Taming of the Shrew, commissioned by and performed at The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Recent recipient of the Steinberg Award, the top honor at the Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur International Choreographic Competition for his original work One/The Body’s Grace, Mills has guest taught at pre-professional dance academies across the country and remains a committed member of the national dance service organization Dance/USA.

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Composer
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in Russia in1840. He began studying music theory at the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1862, and later joined the teaching faculty at the newly-established Moscow Conservatory.

In 1877, Tchaikovsky began a friendship with the widow Nadezhada von Meck, a wealthy patron of the arts who would support him through the next 14 years. Her patronage allowed him to quit teaching and devote himself to composition.

In addition to ten operas, six symphonies, the 1812 Overture, Serenade for Strings, and a fantasy-overture for Romeo and Juliet, Tchaikovsky composed three ballets: Swan Lake (1876), The Sleeping Beauty (1889), and The Nutcracker (1892). Each ballet is drawn from folklore or fairy tale, and those fantasy elements, along with the color and drama of the ballets, are apparent in much of Tchaikovsky’s music. As Professor Robert Greenberg says, "If Tchaikovsky felt it, it found a way into his music."

Tchaikovsky died from cholera on November 6, 1893, nine days after the premier of his sixth symphony, Pathétique.

Director's Notes


“Ballet Austin’s flawless rendition of Tchaikovsky’s opus – like our favorite childhood holiday memory –  is something we want to relive,  and we can’t wait to see the light in our children’s eyes when the curtain rises for the first time."—Austin Woman Magazine, December 2011.
Read the complete review here
“With a score by Tchaikovsky, snappy choreography by Stephen Mills, and a theater full of folks decked out in their finest gear (well, some people will be wearing jeans, but this is Texas, after all), you'll easily see why, for many, the holidays aren't complete without this experience."—Caitlin Moore, Austinist,12/8/11
Read the complete review here
Watch KVUE News’ 11/28/11 interview with The Nutcracker choreographer Stephen Mills here
Read Austin Angel’s 11/23/11 interview with Sugar Plum Fairy Ashley Lynn Gilfix here
"Mills’ choreography, which calls for concise movement and perfectly placed lines by the snow corps de ballet, mimics the crispness of a snowflake landing on one’s nose."—Claire Christine Spera, Austin-American Statesman, 12/13/10
Read the complete review here

"The over 100-year-old ballet, with its many character roles, is a natural opportunity for dedicated young dancers to perform in a full-length, professional production. Ballet Austin’s annual The Nutcracker at the LongCenter is no exception to this rule." —Claire Christine Spera, Austin-American Statesman, 12/13/10

"You may not realize it, but Austin has a hard-working, ambitious and innovative ballet company in its midst, and they have bestowed upon us one of the greatest gifts of all—a fresh, energetic rendering of a classic Christmas show."—Caitlin Moore, Austinist,12/10/08
Read the complete review here
12/14/09 Hear Austin Classical 89.5 KMFA host Dianne Donovan interview Stephen Mills, discussing his choreography and the history of The Nutcracker here
12/9/09 Get a behind-the-scenes look at the production with Artistic Director Stephen Mills and Ballet Austin dancers here
12/8/09 Read the Austinist review of the 2009 production here
12/9/08 Read the Austin American Statesmanfeature on Ballet Austin’s The Nutcracker, “Waiting in the Wings” here
12/5/08 Watch Austin’s KVUE News preview of The Nutcracker here and the video of KVUE's Tyler Sieswerda as Mother Ginger here
12/8/08Hear KUT Austin's John Aielli interview Stephen Mills, Michelle Martin (Associate Artistic Director, Ballet Austin), Bill Piner (Director of Schools, Ballet Austin), Jeff Eckstein (Conductor, Austin Symphony), and Paul Michael Bloodgood(Dancer, Ballet Austin) before the inaugural Nutcracker at the Long Center here
12/08/05 TheAustin American-Statesmandiscusses The Nutcrackerwith Michelle Martin here


Footlights – The Nutcracker
One hour prior to all performances Dec 6 – 23
The Long Center

Enhance your experience at the ballet with a pre-show lecture and Q&A for all ages. See the last-minute preparations unfold in the background as you relax and gain a unique understanding of the performance you are about to see! Learn more.

The Long Center
7:30pm | Dec 5, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19
2pm | Dec 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

The Nutcracker Underwriter:

Sponsored by:
Endowed in part by the generosity of The Kuglen Foundation - Dr. and Mrs. Craig Kuglen through the Ballet Austin Foundation.
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