The holiday season is just around the corner and Ballet Arizona has announced its 30th year of The Nutcracker performances, choreographed by renowned artistic director Ib Andersen. The Nutcracker will run from December 11-27 for a total of 20 performances, with afternoon and evening shows at Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix. In 2013, The New York Times’ senior dance critic Alastair Macaulay declared Ib Andersen’s The Nutcracker “one of the three finest productions” of the nearly 20 versions he attended around the country. The Ballet Arizona production was created in 2006 at a cost of $1.8 million for the magical sets and breathtaking costumes.

The beloved ballet tells the story of a little girl named Clara who is given a magical nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve. She encounters the frightful Mouse King before embarking on a wondrous journey through the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets. Young and old alike will experience the many special effects, including the Christmas tree that “grows” to 40 feet, 200 pounds of “snow” falling during the snow scene and the firing of cannons onstage.

Some interesting facts from this season’s The Nutcracker performances include:

  • There are 260 costumes in The Nutcracker, requiring more than 6,500 yards of fabric. A tutu alone takes 12 yards of material and 60 hours to produce.
  • More than 100,000 Austrian Swarovski crystals make the spectacular Snow Scene sparkle.
  • The Nutcracker scenic elements including sets, lights, costumes and special effects require four tractor trailers and two 24-foot trucks.
  • The Mouse King is more than nine feet tall with his crown.
  • During the run of The Nutcracker, Ballet Arizona female dancers will use more than 300 pairs of pointe shoes. Pointe shoes are custom made and cost more than $100 per pair. Most pairs of shoes last one performance.
  • Costume department personnel will wash approximately 125 loads of laundry during the run of The Nutcracker.
  • The production uses 25 different backdrops.

45 minutes before each performance of The Nutcracker, audiences are invited to the Symphony Hall lobby for pre-show events including storytelling and photos with the Sugar Plum Fairy beneath Ballet Arizona’s 20-foot Christmas tree, hung with decorated pointe shoes. Hot cocoa and cookies will be available for purchase. Ticket prices for The Nutcracker start at $15, discounts offered for seniors, students, military and groups.