A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

Inland Pacific Ballet's "The Nutcracker" / Photo courtesy of IPB

It’s that time of year . . . again. Angelenos revving up for holiday festivities can return to or introduce our young to Southern California’s take on a Christmas dance tradition. Inland Pacific Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” and City Ballet of Los Angeles’ “The Nutcracker Swings” rain down on our region this weekend and thereafter in venues from West LA to Pomona and Riverside. Performances have already taken place in Arcadia and Rancho Cucamonga for IPB’s production and they continue this weekend — afternoon and evening shows this and next Saturday and an afternoon show on both Sundays — at Pomona College in Claremont. The Riverside event at the Fox Performing Arts Center offers two opportunities on Saturday, Dec. 27. CBLA’s re-invention happens only twice, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 19 and 20, at 8 p.m. at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre.

Adding a sprinkle of new spices to the legendary tale of a young girl’s Christmas Eve present of a nutcracker and her magical journey thereafter, IPB’s Co-directors Victoria Koenig and Kevin Myers have engaged a new ballet mistress and costume designer for this production. “Dazzling sets, beautiful costumes and nearly 100 performers” are described in promotional materials as some of the highlights of this annual event, with post-performance opportunities for autographs and photos with the cast. Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without this 122-year reunion of the battling mice, dancing snowflakes, waltzing flowers and delightful Sugar Plum Fairy in the Land of the Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets.

City Ballet of Los Angeles' "The Nutcracker Swings" / Photo courtesy of CBLA

Closer to the ocean, CBLA’s Artistic Director Robyn Gardenhire updates and jazzes up the original narrative in her school and company’s “The Nutcracker Swings.” This twist on the original storyline takes place in LA in 1942, and features a score composed of Tchaikovsky’s ballet music and master pianist and bandleader Duke Ellington tunes. In keeping with the CBLA mission “to reflect the diversity of Los Angeles’ multicultural community,” the heroine is named Maria, and her gift of a nutcracker “kicks off a whirlwind journey of Christmas Wonder.”

The season would not be complete without this family treat for the eyes and ears. And, oh, those young ballerinas and cavaliers who are living their dreams on the stage. The classic has stood the test of time, and modern interpretations interestingly embellish those beginnings. Bring your camera phones and be ready for the candy. Happy holidays!

—Benn Widdey, Culture Spot LA

Inland Pacific Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”

Information and Tickets: ipballet.org; tickets from $38 with senior/child/group discounts available

Bridges Auditorium, Pomona College, 450 N. College Way, Claremont 91711

Saturday, Dec. 13, 1 and 7 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 14, 1 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 20, 1 and 7 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 21, 1 p.m.

Fox Performing Arts Center, 3801 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside 92501

Saturday, Dec. 27, 2 and 7:30 p.m.

City Ballet of Los Angeles’ “The Nutcracker Swings”

Info: CityBalletofLA.org, (323) 292-1932

Friday and Saturday, Dec. 19 and 20, at 8 p.m.

The Wilshire Ebell Theatre, 743 S. Lucerne Blvd., LA 90005

Tickets: Orchestra $60, Mid Orchestra $50, Back Orchestra $40, Loge $30, Balcony $20

For Group Sales, call (323) 292-1932. Opening Night VIP Reception $150 includes Orchestra Seating and Pre-Reception at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets available through BrownPaperTickets.com.