New York City Ballet dancers headline Nutcracker at the Bardavon

(Photo by Jacques Luigi)

(Photo by Jacques Luigi)

When one lives in the mid-Hudson Valley, it becomes easy to take our proximity to Manhattan for granted and forget that for many people, a Yuletide visit to the Big Apple is the travel dream of a lifetime. Certain components of such a vacation are considered essential: strolling down Fifth Avenue to peer into the elaborately decorated shop windows; touring Central Park while snuggled under a blanket in a horsedrawn carriage; watching the ice skaters underneath the huge Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

And then there’s catching The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, as performed by the New York City Ballet (NYCB). Every little burg in America has its Nutcracker production, it seems, but the level of spectacle offered by NYCB is unrivaled: the splendor of the sets and lighting, the elaborate costumes, the awe-inspiring sight of a majestic, fully decorated tree slowly rising up out of the trap door in the stage, the topnotch pit orchestra playing Tchaikovsky’s lush score – not to mention the world-class dancing to George Balanchine’s iconic choreography.

It’s the definitive version of the beloved ballet, and an experience that everyone should have at least once in a lifetime. If you can’t make it to NYC, you might be well-advised to gravitate to a highly professional annual production in our region that’s put on by two veterans of NYCB: Peter and Lisa Naumann, artistic directors of the New Paltz Ballet Theatre.


Not only do they know how to do this holiday tradition right, but the Naumanns also remain well-connected with their former colleagues, and are able to attract a couple of current NYCB dancers to perform the most demanding adult roles in The Nutcracker at the Bardavon. The performances this weekend will feature Erica Pereira, an NYCB soloist since 2009, and Daniel Ulbricht, a principal dancer since 2007.

Costumes and scenery for the dream sequences, in the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets, were designed by Ray Delle Robbins of the Houston Ballet and Houston’s Theatre under the Stars. The Naumanns themselves do the staging and choreography, and their New Paltz Ballet Theatre students perform the many roles for young dancers that help make this extravaganza so popular across America.

The New Paltz Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker will be presented on Saturday, December 14 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, December 15 at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $29 general admission, $26 for students and $24 for Bardavon members. They are available at the Bardavon box office at 35 Market Street in Poughkeepsie, (845) 473-2072; the Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC) box office at 601 Broadway in Kingston, (845) 339-6088; or via TicketMaster at (800) 745-3000 or For more information, visit

The Nutcracker, New Paltz Ballet Theatre, Saturday, December 14, 2 & 7:30 p.m., Sunday, December 15, 3 p.m., $29/$26$24, Bardavon 1869 Opera House, 35 Market Street, Poughkeepsie; (845) 473-2072,