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The Nutcracker

Bring the magic of the holiday season to life

From the scrumptious sets and costumes to the colorful characters you adore, Ballet Austin’s annual production of THE NUTCRACKER is Austin’s favorite holiday tradition! Hundreds of dancers perform Stephen Mills’ enchanting choreography to Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s magical score with live accompaniment from Austin Symphony Orchestra. Share this sweet treat with your favorite people and celebrate the season with Ballet Austin.

CHOREOGRAPHY: Stephen Mills
MUSIC: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
LIVE ACCOMPANIMENT: Austin Symphony Orchestra

14 PERFORMANCES:

  • Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, at 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, at 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, at 2 p.m.
  • Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, at 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, at 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, at 2 p.m.
  • Friday, Dec. 17, 2021, at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, at 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, at 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, at 2 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, at 2 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021, at 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021, at 2 p.m.

VIEW THE OFFICIAL TRAILER

IMAGES BY ANNE MARIE BLOODGOOD

MEET THE ARTISTS

STEPHEN MILLS
Choreography
PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY
Music
AUSTIN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Live Accompaniment

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Known for his innovative and collaborative choreographic projects, Stephen Mills has works in the repertoires of dance companies across the United States and around the world.

His international career began in 1998 after being chosen Prix d’Auteur at les Rencontres Chorégraphiques Internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis in Paris.  In his inaugural season as Artistic Director of Ballet Austin in 2000, Mills attracted national attention with Hamlet, hailed by Dance Magazine as “…sleek and sophisticated.”

Mills’ works showcased at The Kennedy Center include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, and performances at the Ballet Across America Festival in collaboration with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet.

In 2005 Mills developed a community-wide human rights collaborative dialogue culminating in his signature work Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project for which he received the Audrey and Raymond Maislin Humanitarian Award from The Anti-Defamation League. Mills contributed a podcast about Light to the Voices on Anti-Semitism series at The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and was invited to speak about the work at The United Nations in 2014.  Light has been performed in five U.S. cities, in three cities in Israel, and was recently featured in an Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary, Sharing Light.

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Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

(1840–1893)

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is widely considered the most popular Russian composer in history. His work includes the ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘The Nutcracker.’

Who Was Tchaikovsky?

Composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s work was first publicly performed in 1865. In 1868, his First Symphony was well-received. In 1874, he established himself with Piano Concerto No.1 in B-flat Minor. Tchaikovsky resigned from the Moscow Conservatory in 1878 and spent the rest of his career composing yet more prolifically. Tchaikovsky is most celebrated for his ballets, specifically Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. He died in St. Petersburg on November 6, 1893.

Early Life

Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born on May 7, 1840, in Kamsko-Votkinsk, Vyatka, Russia. He was the second eldest of his parents’ six surviving offspring. Tchaikovsky’s father, Ilya, worked as a mine inspector and metal works manager.

When he was just five years old, Tchaikovsky began taking piano lessons. Although he displayed an early passion for music, his parents hoped that he would grow up to work in the civil service. At the age of 10, Tchaikovsky began attending the Imperial School of Jurisprudence, a boarding school in St. Petersburg. His mother, Alexandra, died of cholera in 1854, when he was 14 years old. In 1859, Tchaikovsky honored his parents’ wishes by taking up a bureau clerk post with the Ministry of Justice — a post he would hold for four years, during which time he became increasingly fascinated with music.

When he was 21, Tchaikovsky decided to take music lessons at the Russian Musical Society. A few months later, he enrolled at the newly founded St. Petersburg Conservatory, becoming one of the school’s first composition students. In addition to learning while at the conservatory, Tchaikovsky gave private lessons to other students. In 1863, he moved to Moscow, where he became a professor of harmony at the Moscow Conservatory.

Tchaikovsky’s Compositions

Operas

Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s work was first publicly performed in 1865, with Johann Strauss the Younger conducting Tchaikovsky’s Characteristic Dances at a Pavlovsk concert. In 1868, Tchaikovsky’s First Symphony was well-received when it was publicly performed in Moscow. The following year, his first opera, The Voyevoda, made its way to the stage — with little fanfare.

After scrapping The Voyevoda, Tchaikovsky repurposed some of its material to compose his next opera, Oprichnik, which achieved some acclaim when it was performed at the Maryinsky in St. Petersburg in 1874. By this time, Tchaikovsky had also earned praise for his Second Symphony. Also in 1874, his opera, Vakula the Smith, received harsh critical reviews, yet Tchaikovsky still managed to establish himself as a talented composer of instrumental pieces with his Piano Concerto No.1 in B-flat Minor.

From ‘Swan Lake’ to ‘The Nutcracker’ Ballets

Acclaim came readily for Tchaikovsky in 1875, with his composition Symphony No. 3 in D Major. At the end of that year, the composer embarked on a tour of Europe. In 1876, he completed the ballet Swan Lake as well as the fantasy Francesca da Rimini. While the former has come to be one of the most frequently performed ballets of all time, Tchaikovsky again endured the ire of critics, who at its premiere panned it as too complex and too “noisy.”

Tchaikovsky resigned from the Moscow Conservatory in 1878 to focus his efforts entirely on composing. As a result, he spent the remainder of his career composing more prolifically than ever. His collective body of work constitutes 169 pieces, including symphonies, operas, ballets, concertos, cantatas and songs. Among his most famed late works are the ballets The Sleeping Beauty (1890) and The Nutcracker (1892).

Personal Life

Struggling with societal pressures to repress his homosexuality, in 1877, Tchaikovsky married a young music student named Antonina Milyukova. The marriage was a catastrophe, with Tchaikovsky abandoning his wife within weeks of the wedding. During a nervous breakdown, he unsuccessfully attempted to commit suicide, and eventually fled abroad.

Tchaikovsky could afford to resign from the Moscow Conservatory in 1878, thanks to the patronage of a wealthy widow named Nadezhda von Meck. She provided him with a monthly allowance until 1890; oddly, their arrangement stipulated that they would never meet.

Death

Tchaikovsky died in St. Petersburg on November 6, 1893. While the cause of his death was officially declared as cholera, some of his biographers believe that he committed suicide after the humiliation of a sex scandal trial. However, only oral (no written) documentation exists to support this theory.

Biography courtesy of biography.com.

About the Austin Symphony Orchestra

The mission of the Austin Symphony Orchestra Society, Inc. is to enhance the cultural quality of life for the adults and young people of Austin and Central Texas by providing excellence in music performance and educational programming.”

Founded in 1911, the Austin Symphony Orchestra is Austin’s oldest performing arts group. The ASO offers a complete season of musical and educational programming. Masterworks concerts include a series of eight concert pairs running monthly September through May in the state-of-the-art Joe R. & Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts. Our season also features the Sarah & Ernest Butler Pops Series: October & February Pops at the Long Center and December & June Pops at Palmer Events Center. Programming for the entire family includes the Halloween Children’s Concert, and the Christmas in the Community, as well as the popular James C. Armstrong Youth Educations Programs, which include Children’s Day Art ParkYoung People’s ConcertsHigh School Concert Tour and a variety of other school programs.

Symphony Square at 11th and Red River is home to the ASO’s administrative offices. This complex of four historic Austin buildings (two of which are owned by the ASO and Waterloo Greenway) is also home to the Women’s Symphony League of Austin.

Please Note: As of January, 2021 our new temporary administration office is located at 1806 Rio Grande St., Austin, TX 78701.

Music Director, Maestro Peter Bay: https://austinsymphony.org/about/conductor/

Austin Symphony Orchestra Musicians: https://austinsymphony.org/about/musicians/

COMING SOON!

COMING SOON!

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS

Endowed in part by the generosity of the Kuglen Foundation–Dr. & Mrs. Craig C. Kuglen–through the Ballet Austin Foundation

GOVERNMENT FUNDING SPONSORS

Supported in part by awards from the Texas Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

2021/22 SEASON PROGRAMS PROVIDED BY

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