New York City Ballet cancels Nutcracker

David Mead

New York City Ballet has announced the cancellation of its 2020-21 Nutcracker season along with its Fall Season which was scheduled to run from September 22 to October 18. It is the first time the annual production has not been presented since its 1954 premiere.

The Nutcracker cancellation in particular is going to leave a huge hole in company finances. The show is the company’s most lucrative production, earning over $15 million annually in ticket sales.

The announcement was made by NYCB executive director Katherine Brown and artistic director Jonathan Stafford. “We are devasted to cancel another ten weeks of performances, including New York City Ballet’s annual fall season and beloved holiday performances of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker,” they said. “However, the health and safety of our artists, staff, and audiences is our number one priority during the ongoing pandemic. Based on advice and guidelines from government officials and medical professionals, it has become clear that it will not be safe through the end of the year for large groups to gather safely indoors and for our artists to rehearse and interact as they would need to in order to present live performances.”

The 2020 Fall Season would also have marked the first performances programmed by NYCB’s new artistic leadership team of Stafford, associate artistic director Wendy Whelan, and resident choreographer and artistic advisor Justin Peck.

“We were very excited to present our first season of programming and we are heartbroken that several exciting new works as well as the extraordinary ballets of our co-founders, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, can no longer take place this fall,” said Whelan, who spearheads the Company’s artistic programming efforts. “I am especially disappointed that new commissions from choreographers Sidra Bell and Andrea Miller, both of whom were scheduled to make their first-ever works for NYCB for the fall gala, will not take place as planned. However, I am thrilled that Sidra and Andrea have agreed to return for our 2021 Fall Season, and I can’t wait to have these remarkable women in NYCB’s rehearsal studios creating new work with our beautiful dancers.”

“The cancellation of The Nutcracker is particularly difficult for me,” said Stafford. “It is obviously extremely important financially, but this great masterpiece also provides a vital introduction to ballet for thousands of children each year.” The ballet also provides the first on-stage experiences for more than 100 young students from the School of American Ballet who perform in it each season. “It is tremendously disheartening that so many young people will not have these experiences this year,” said Stafford

As it did during the recently cancelled 2020 Spring Season, New York City Ballet plans to present digital offerings during the period of time when live performances will not be possible.

NYCB hopes to resume performances at Lincoln Center with its 2021 Winter Season, which is scheduled to begin a six-week run on January 19.