Beyond “The Nutcracker”: 6 Other Ballet Events to Catch This December

December 1, 2021

We may be in full Nutcracker mode, but there are a handful of other exciting ballet films, premieres and more happening this holiday season. Here’s a short list of what else is going on this month.

Scottish Ballet Celebrates Work of Gene Kelly in Starstruck (Streaming)

In partnership with Marquee TV, Scottish Ballet presents the premiere of Starstruck, a new dance film celebrating the work of choreographic legend Gene Kelly. Inspired by the golden age of Hollywood, the feature-length program reimagines Kelly’s Pas de Dieux, a ballet created for the Paris Opéra Ballet in 1960. Scottish Ballet CEO and artistic director Christopher Hampson and theater designer Lez Brotherston collaborated with Kelly’s widow, Patricia Ward Kelly and film director Oscar Sansom to reconceptualize the original ballet, which is set to Gershwin’s Concerto in F.

Starstruck is streaming as a ticketed event on Marquee TV through December 5. Viewers will have a 48-hour access window upon starting the film. After December 17, the ballet will again be available as part of a Marquee TV subscription.

Smuin Contemporary Ballet’s The Christmas Ballet (Onstage and Streaming)

Smuin Contemporary Ballet returns to live, in-theater performances with its holiday tradition The Christmas Ballet. This year’s production of the Bay Area favorite, touring various theaters December 2–26, features a collection of old and new holiday-themed pieces combining ballet, tap, jazz and swing. Act I, “The Classical Christmas,” features a selection of snow-white ballets, including premieres by Smuin alumnus Rex Wheeler and company artists Maggie Carey, Ian Buchanan, Max van der Sterre and Tess Lane. Act II, “The Cool Christmas,” showcases a variety of dance styles, including a new swing duet by Emmy Award–winning choreographer Ben Needham-Wood.

The company is also presenting The Christmas Ballet Virtual Edition, featuring archival footage that includes Smuin artistic director Celia Fushille performing audience favorite “Santa Baby.” Viewers can access the program on demand through January 1 via the Smuin website.

Sharon Eyal World Premiere at the Paris Opéra Ballet (Onstage)

Now through January 2, the Paris Opéra Ballet presents Ashton/Eyal/Nijinski, a Russian-themed program of repertoire classics and a world premiere. In addition to Frederick Ashton’s Rhapsody (to music by Rachmaninoff) and Vaslav Nijinsky’s The Rite of Spring, the performance features the world premiere of Israeli choreographer Sharon Eyal’s Faunes. Eyal’s first work for the POB is inspired by Nijinsky’s 1912 L’Après-midi d’un faune, set to music inspired by the original Debussy score.

Joy Womack: The White Swan (Streaming and in Cinemas)

On December 10, the feature-length documentary Joy Womack: The White Swan premieres online, in select theaters and on DVD. Created by filmmakers Dina Burlis and Sergey Gavrilov, the film follows Womack’s journey to international stardom as she graduates from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and secures a contract with the Bolshoi Ballet. A close look at Womack’s personal and professional lives, the documentary tracks her years in Russia through her return to the U.S. Joy Womack: The White Swan will be available on, as well as iTunes, Amazon and other leading digital outlets.

The Trocks at The Joyce (Onstage)

A group of eight male dancers in white swan tutus, feathered headpieces and pointe shoes stand in a tight group in the right onstage, cowering comically with their right foot beveled on pointe and their right arm raised over their head. To their right, a man in a green tunic, white tights and pink cape points a cross-bow at them. The backdrop shows a dark lake.
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo in “Le Lac de Cygnes.” Marcello Orselli, Courtesy Les Ballets Trockadero

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (aka “The Trocks”) returns to New York City’s Joyce Theater for its biannual holiday-season residency December 14–January 2. With a two-program lineup, the hilarious all-male troupe presents a selection of company classics alongside a new premiere. Program A features Act II of Swan Lake, Valpurgeyeva Noch (Walspurghisnacht) and the New York premiere of Nightcrawlers, a parody of Jerome Robbins’ In the Night. Program B includes ChopEniana, a hilarious tribute to Romantic-era ballets, followed by Le Grand Pas de Quatre, Majisimas and an elusive company premiere (name not yet announced).

The Sarasota Ballet’s December Giselle (Onstage)

On a darkly lit stage showing a forest at night, a large corps de ballet of women in white Romantic length tutus and veils stand in tendu derriere with their arms crossed. They make six lines. In the middle, a solitary ballerina in the same costume faces the audience and stands in b plus.
The Sarasota Ballet in Sir Peter Wright’s “Giselle.” Frank Atura, Courtesy Sarasota Ballet.

In lieu of the holiday hit The Nutcracker, The Sarasota Ballet presents Sir Peter Wright’s Giselle December 17–18. The production, held at Sarasota’s Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, celebrates Wright’s 95th birthday.