Dancing mice and waltzing flowers are all part of the festive tradition of watching The Nutcracker, something every daydreamer or tiny dancer should experience at least once. Luckily LA offers a range of productions catering to every audience member, from tutu-loving toddlers to kids who would much rather dance with dragons than fairies. Keep reading to find the perfect production that your kids will go nuts for!

photo: Todd Lechtick

Timeless Tradition: Westside Ballet

If it’s a mix of LA tradition and classic ballet you are looking for, West Side Ballet’s production is right up your alley. Celebrating it’s 45 season, this is the longest running Nutcracker production in LA and is accompanied by a live orchestra to boot. This is particularly friendly for your young theater-goers as there are early matinees, booster seats for the little ones and babes 2 and under can sit on your lap for free.

Shows are November 25 & 26 and December 2 & 3 at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica. Event details.


photo: Reed Hutchinson

Keeping It Classic: Los Angeles Ballet

The Los Angeles Ballet has proved itself to be an institution that takes on work of all varieties. In this production, LAB has stayed true to their classical roots with a little spin: the show is set in LA in 1912 (something to make us love it even more). And as a way to serve their audience in this horizontal city, LAB takes The Nutcracker on the road, performing at four venues, so something should be close to you without sitting in traffic!

This year the company will perform The Alex Theatre, Royce Hall at UCLA, The Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center and The Dolby Theatre with a special live orchestra accompaniment.

photo: Lee Tonks

A Twist on Tradition: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker

In this rendition of the timeless tale, the great Christmas Eve party scene takes place in 1928-era New Orleans. Kara Johnson receives a nutcracker filled with hot chocolate and upon falling asleep is transported to a land of wonder by a trio of mischievous mice. This spin includes an original score by Mariah Carey, young LA dancers who are all students of the Debbie Allen Academy and Debbie Allen herself. Treat your family to this not-so-classic adventure, and those who poo-poo the tutu will have a blast. (Just beware: those mice crack the kids up, but they might grate on adult nerves. Don't worry: the spectacular dancing more than makes up for the mice!)

December 7-10 at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. Event details.

photo: Conejo Ballet

Playgroup on Pointe: Conejo Ballet

You may be dying to take your young ballet lovers to soak in the beauty of this show, but also be a little worried about making it all the way through. Never fear, the Nutcracker Field Trip For Kids is here. This production is a 10 a.m. matinee, the running time is a short hour and 15 minutes and it culminates in snowfall in the audience. Tickets are sold to groups (at $10 per person for groups of 15 or more, but you can get individual tickets for $15) so gather up your little tribe and head to the theatre. If you want to take your older kids, you can also catch the full show during regular performances with kids 3 & up. Be sure to buy your tickets in advance because this one sells out every year.

Field Trip For Kids December 7 at 10 a.m. at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. There is also a regular, full-length matinee performances December 10 at 2:30 p.m.

photo: Moscow Ballet

Old Country Style: Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker

If it’s old fashioned you’re looking for (in the best possible way) this is your production. Step into the theater to see Moscow Ballet’s principal dancers straight from Russia. This production features a 60-foot growing Christmas tree, handmade costumes and hand-painted sets that will leave everyone enthralled.

The shows are December 15 & 16 at The Wiltern. Check their website for more details.

photo: Pasadena Dance Theater via Facebook

Taste the Sugarplum Sweets: Pasadena Dance Theater

This is a beautiful production presented by one of our local companies and the perfect opportunity to support homegrown artistic effort. With a cast of over 80 dancers performing, it’s a tremendous production that will please everyone. Plus, the company hosts Clara’s Holiday Party on December 16 & 17 at 12:30 p.m. before the show, where refreshments will be served by Clara and the Sugarplum Fairy. This party will get the kids buzzing about the room and will give them an opportunity to learn a bit about the story before stepping into that sometimes overwhelming arena of the theatre.

December 9, 10, 16, 17, 22, & 23. Event details.

photo: Red Chair Children's Production Company

For Kids by Kids: The Red Chair Children’s Production

What’s more kid-friendly than other kids? This production features young dancers ages 5-18 that perform alongside adults with a stunning cast of over 100 dancers, making it a great way to introduce young audiences to classic ballet. If you have a tiny dancer in your home, this is sure to fill them with wonder, inspiration and perhaps plans to take the stage next year.

The show plays December 3, 2pm and 6pm at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. Event details.

photo: Katie Ging

Fantastical Fare: The Long Beach Ballet

Settle in for the ultimate sensory experience. With a full live orchestra accompaniment, theatrical “wizardry” and special effects that will take the entire family on an adventure, this is not your typical trip to the ballet. As the only show in town with a Christmas Eve performance, it could be the perfect new family tradition to celebrate the holiday. The company also hosts at Nutcracker Luncheon set in The Land of Dreams on December 17 at 11 a.m., where you can meet the dancers, do crafts, and enjoy a lunch with a kids’ menu.

December 16, 17, 22, 23 & 24 at the Long Beach Terrace Theater. Event details.

photo: E.Y. Yanagi

Woah, a Dragon: Inland Pacific Ballet

If you need motivation to get everyone in your crew on board, this is the production. Beyond the growing Christmas tree, this show has a 40-foot dragon, a real sleigh and serious snowfall scene. This show is sure to please your high-energy tot who is always on the lookout for action and your mini-dance aficionados alike.

The Inland Pacific Ballet performs in Claremont, Riverside and Rancho Cucamonga throughout December. Check their website for details.

photo: Gila Derensteyn

Inspire Your Dancers: Ciara Dance Alliance

If the first words out of you tot’s mouth after watching a show is, “How can I do that?” then this Nutcracker performance is the perfect place to start. Celebrating its tenth season, this dance school performance features a cast of all kids ages 5 & up, with just a few featured adult performers (including a handful of parents). Future Claras and Snow Queens can sign up for classes and get ready to audition next year.

December 16 at the Calabasas Performing Arts Education Center. Event details.

Which show does your family plan to check out this year? Let us know below!

—Shahrzad Warkentin



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