Credit: Heidi Bergseteren

Few classic holiday events (religious services graciously excepted) carry quite the same significance that The Nutcracker does for ballet companies and their affiliated dance schools. In 1892, when Russian critics panned the premiere performances of this Tchaikovsky/Petipa masterpiece, the most frequent complaint was that too many children were involved. 

What they considered a bug is now, without question, The Nutcracker’s most cherished feature. Students in ballet studios worldwide chart their progress through the various roles they have earned in the show. Parents in the audience beam to see their children’s progress from season to season as little mice grow into snowflakes, and snowflakes — if they are very good — become Snow Queens or Claras.

For State Street Ballet (SSB), Nutcracker season begins early with a wide-ranging tour. From Spokane to Fresno, Durango, and beyond, SSB’s professional dancers crisscross the West, adapting as they move from city to city to collaborate as effectively as possible with local dance schools, orchestras, and dancers. The goal in each city is the same — to create an unforgettable Nutcracker experience that reaches thousands of children and their families annually.

When done with that joyous work, the dancers fly back to Santa Barbara and perform at their home venue, The Granada Theatre, on the weekend before Christmas. That’s where they will be this Saturday and Sunday, appearing with a slightly curtailed cast limited to dance students 12 and up due to COVID restrictions. The Saturday, December 18, performance is at 7:30 p.m., and the Sunday, December 19, matinee is at 2 p.m.

For more information, visit, and to buy tickets, go to or call the box office at (805) 899-2222. Purchase access to SSB’s March production of Sleeping Beauty at the Granada in the same transaction for a 20 percent discount.

This edition of ON Culture was originally emailed to subscribers on April 12, 2024. To receive Leslie Dinaberg’s arts newsletter in your inbox on Fridays, sign up at


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.