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The Gwinnett Ballet Theatre version of The Nutcracker begins November 29 in Marietta. (Photos by Richard Calmes)

Our guide to this season’s best “Nutcracker” productions in and around Atlanta

From Atlanta Ballet’s mega-production at the Fox Theatre to a performance at the high school in Fayetteville, Atlanta is flush with productions of The Nutcracker.

Here’s a handy list of the productions around the area that are well worth seeking out.


Atlanta Ballet’s The NutcrackerThe big news in town, this world-premiere production choreographed by Yuri Possokhov and accompanied by the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra features many of the traditional plot points — a girl who is given a nutcracker that springs to life, and a battle between mice and toy soldiers. But this version looks to some of the darkly fantastical aspects of E.T.A. Hoffman’s original 1816 tale as a stellar design team brings a child’s imaginary world to life. Meanwhile, dancers will be challenged to rise to the rigors of Possokhov’s style in artistic director Gennadi Nedvigin’s bid to raise the company’s artistic profile. December 8–24 at The Fox Theatre. 

East Point

Urban Nutcracker. Twenty-five years ago, Ballethnic Dance Company co-directors Nena Gilreath and Waverly Lucas created this uniquely Atlantan production sourced in ballet traditions while meeting the exacting standards of their alma mater, Dance Theatre of Harlem. Set in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn neighborhood during the 1940s, this version augments Tchaikovsky’s score with jazzy strains by L. Gerard Reid and reimagines Act II in a drug store reminiscent of the iconic Milton & Yates soda fountain, complete with a Coca-Cola six-pack dancing the company’s trademark blend of classical pointe work and African diasporic influences. The show runs December 20–23 at Tri-Cities High School’s Viola Turner Theater.

Decatur/Druid Hills

Metropolitan Ballet Theatre’s version of The Nutcracker 

Polar Express and the Land of SweetsCallanwolde Fine Arts Center’s dance program presents a suite of excerpts from The Nutcracker, with its student cast augmented by professional dancers Katie Messina, Emma Morris, Liz Stillerman and Shanelle Newton. Polar Express, choreographed by Jerylann Warner, features Atlanta-based singer Cynthia Sheppard and percussionist Mark Little as the train’s conductor. December 1 at the Gaines Chapel in Presser Hall, Agnes Scott College.

Champagne and NutcrackerA champagne-sipping event features Nutcracker excerpts alongside works by Kit Modus, Callanwolde Fine Arts Center’s resident professional dance company, and student company Prime Movers. It all takes place at the Candler Mansion while it’s decked for the holidays as a designer show house. November 23 and 26, December 3, Callanwolde Fine Arts Center.


Gwinnett Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker. Rising talent Luke Badura, recently seen in Aurora Theatre shows Mamma Mia and Newsies, will perform as Cavalier with a cast of students and pre-professional dancers. In this production’s 37th season, advanced-level guest artists from Atlanta’s International City Ballet will dance in “Waltz of the Flowers,” and the Gwinnett Ballet Theatre Orchestra, conducted by Predrag Gosta, will accompany most performances during the three-weekend run, November 30–December 16 at the Infinite Energy Theater. 


Georgia Metropolitan Dance Theatre’s The Nutcracker. Formerly Ruth Mitchell Dance Theatre, the company brings more than 150 local students to the stage in its version of The Nutcracker, with new choreography and costumes. Ashleigh Whitworth, a Ruth Mitchell protégé, now directs the company in its 62nd year. The show runs November 23–25 at the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre in the Cobb Civic Center. 

The Georgia Ballet puts a new spin on its production this year. 

The Georgia Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Artistic director Daet Rodriguez and ballet mistress Margit Peguero have taught and coached this troupe of deeply committed dancers with a palpable respect for the artists and devotion to the art form. During the performance run, former Georgia Ballet students Tessa Castellano and Murillo Barbosa, now company members, will dance several principal roles in new choreography by Rodriguez and Peguero. November 29–December 2, with a sensory friendly show on Friday, November 30, at 7:00 p.m. at the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre in the Cobb Civic Center.


Atlanta Dance Theatre’s The Nutcracker. This company enters it 37th season celebrating the life of founding director Jonnie Kelley (1938–2018). The Nutcracker, choreographed by artistic director Shelley Grames, features guest performances by former Atlanta Ballet company dancer Jonah Hooper; The Voice’s Nick Hagelin; Atlanta-based teacher and choreographer Lonnie Davis; and Katherine Ricardo, veteran of the National Ballet of Canada and the Broadway stage. December 7–9, Roswell Cultural Arts Center.

Metropolitan Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker. Celebrating its 20th-anniversary season, this gem of a pre-professional company is fueled by the passion and wisdom of ballerina Maniya Barredo, one of the brightest stars in Atlanta Ballet’s history. Under Barredo’s tutelage, company members are well prepared for the ballet’s principal roles and often appear as guest artists in other productions. The show runs December 14–16, with a “story time” at 12:30 p.m. before matinees, at Blessed Trinity High School Theater.


Georgia Dance Theatre’s The Nutcracker Ballet. This production features its professional company dancers and former American Ballet Theatre dancer Gray Davis alongside students. The Nutcracker Ballet is one of several full-length productions imaginatively choreographed by artistic director Sherri Davis. December 15–16, Whitewater High School, Fayetteville.