Ballet West Continues Historic Tradition with The Nutcracker


Salt Lake City is home to America’s first and longest-running version of The Nutcracker, which will run from December 2 – 24 at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre with evening and matinee performances.

Ballet West’s founder, Willam Christensen, introduced the world to the first American version of The Nutcracker on Christmas Eve in 1944 after founding the San Francisco Ballet. He later moved to Salt Lake City, along with his choreographed production, and since 1955, Christensen’s The Nutcracker has been the centerpiece of Salt Lake City’s holiday festivities.

The Nutcracker is all about families and tradition,” said Artistic Director Adam Sklute. “We have dancers in The Nutcracker whose parents, grandparents, and even in one case, great-grandparents, who have danced in The Nutcracker.”

Tchaikovsky’s moving score, played live by the Ballet West Orchestra and combined with iconic costumes and fairytale sets, creates one of the most visually stunning productions of The Nutcracker in the world that keeps people coming back year after year. 

The ballet tells the story of a magical Christmas Eve where Clara receives a special gift – a Nutcracker designed in the form of a small soldier. Clara falls in love with the gift and ends up dreaming of mice, snow fairies, and her nutcracker, which turns into a handsome prince. Clara is then celebrated with dance from around the world, including the beloved Mother Buffoon, before she is whisked away with her prince in a sleigh.

The Nutcracker tradition includes more than 300 children who participate in the production. Each children’s cast runs for a week, with 75 children in every performance.

“Hundreds of children from multiple states around the Intermountain Region audition for the opportunity to perform in Ballet West’s The Nutcracker,” says Ballet West Artistic Director Adam Sklute. “Being selected for the coveted roles in the production is an honor and has become a tradition for generations of families.” 

Ballet West’s The Nutcracker was completely redesigned with new sets, costumes, and special effects in 2017, thanks to a generous donation by the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation and hundreds of other gifts, foundations, corporations, and individuals, demonstrating how beloved this iconic ballet is in Utah and beyond.

Tickets start at just $30 and are available online at or by calling (801) 869-6900.

Back by popular demand, Ballet West will also be hosting Nutcracker Tea, a Children’s Gala on Dec. 21. Join characters from The Nutcracker at The Grand America Hotel for an afternoon of interactive fun. For tickets, go to or call 801-869-6900. All proceeds for the event support Ballet West initiatives.