DDP’s Holiday Picks

Curated by Isabelle Vail, DDP Director of Research

Look no further than right here on the DDP blog for your women in dance fix this holiday season!

Like much that has been planned this year, holiday performances cannot proceed normally. Some ballet companies have rearranged their Nutcrackers into abridged holiday shows. Others are partnering with local television channels to bring the beloved classic to the home this December. A few are ditching the holiday theme altogether and offering ongoing digital programs that feature innovative new works.

Each organization is handling the challenge of amending its regularly-scheduled programming differently, which led our team at DDP to develop the Nutcracker tab of our Season Status Updates resource. There, you’ll find info on how each Top 50 U.S. ballet company is proceeding, along with a link to more info. (Plans can change as frequently as every week, which is why we update statuses as often as possible and are currently engaged in a comprehensive sweep of every entry in the resource.)

As always, we at DDP have women in ballet on our minds, and this year we have decided to begin a holiday tradition of our own. No, we aren’t choreographing our own Nutcracker, as festive as that sounds. Instead, we have put together a brief (but important!) list of December 2020 programs that will feature work directed or choreographed by women.

Take a look at the “performances” below and click the links in each subtitle to learn more. If you know of an inclusive holiday performance that we missed, send us a message on our contact form or DM us on Instagram or Twitter. We’d love to keep our community apprised of any additional projects that will feature work produced, filmed, directed, or choreographed by women.

Here’s to the companies that are putting in the added effort to support women at a time when, it would seem, the easy option is to go back to the usual male choreographers they have commissioned for years. Your support and inclusivity does not go unnoticed.

Expand the sections below to see what the selected organizations have to offer, or, when expanded, click on the program titles to visit the websites for more information (we’ve also linked the choreographer names!).

Happy Holidays from the DDP team!

Hidden Languages: A Digital Season in 5 Movements

This subscription, produced in partnership with FrontRunner Films, will include a plethora of women-choreographed world premieres, in-depth interviews with the creators, time spent in the rehearsal studios, as well as never before seen archival footage of performances from the past few years. The full lineup of dancemakers is available at the link, but at a glance, it includes: Danielle Rowe,Lauren Edson, Anne Mueller, Yusha-Marie Sorzano, Penny Saunders, and Robyn Mineko Williams. A selection of the dance films are already available, and Associate Artistic Director Anne Mueller’s Spectacular Holiday Spectacular sounds just about right for this time of year! 

MIX 25

BJG’s return to the stage includes a new piece by Cathy Marston, which will explore the universal experiences of both darkness and light encountered by so many of us in 2020. Also on the slate are presentations of works by Marcos Morau, Barak Marshall, and a male/female choreographic duo, Noa Zuk and Ohad Fishof. If health and safety protocol permit, five presentations of the program are scheduled from December 18 to 21. Should the doors remain closed, the program will be available for streaming. 

2020 Urban Nutcracker

For the company’s 30th anniversary, Ballethnic’s Urban Nutcracker comes to audiences virtually on December 19 at 7:30pm EST. Ballethnic was co-founded by male/female Co-Artistic Director duo Nena Gilreath and Waverly Lucas. The “African American-inspired and Atlanta-focused adaptation” of the holiday classic was initially written by Lucas to provide a platform to showcase Black ballerinas like Gilreath, who partners with Gilreath in creating the company’s unique style. Read an interview about the production here.

Melissa Barak‘s Reclamation 

A cinematic ballet conceptualized, choreographed, and co-directed by Barak Ballet Artistic Director Melissa Barak is streaming on Vimeo On Demand from now until December 26th. VOD tickets include week-long access to the film, plus a 6-minute ‘behind-the-scenes’ bonus video with the cast and crew on location.

The 2020 Bessies

The annual New York dance and performance awards have nominated several women in 2020, including Aszure Barton (for her work BUSK, performed by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater) in the category of Outstanding Revival and Gemma Bond, Gabrielle Revlock, and Tess Dworman in the category of Outstanding “Breakout” Choreographer. The virtual ceremony, scheduled for December 14 at 7:30pm EST, will feature video footage of nominated artists’ works and segments highlighting Black Lives Matter efforts in and beyond the dance community.

BB@yourhome: The Gift

Set to Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite, The Gift will feature new works choreographed by BB dancers, including three female choreographers (Chyrstyn Fentroy, Haley Schwan, and Arianna Hughlett (post graduate). These, along with additional virtual works, will be available for streaming beginning on December 17.

For non-holiday works, check out Boston Ballet’s IGTV series Home Studies, a collection of virtual works created by Helen Pickett for company dancers.

@Home with Charlotte Ballet

Charlotte Ballet maintains performance film experiences on their website, which will remain online this month and feature premieres by choreographers like Nadine Barton, Sarah Hayes Harkins, Helen Pickett, and more. Check these out for an escape from holiday-related programming!

Victoria Morgan‘s The Nutcracker at Home presented by Frisch’s Big Boy 

A re-imagined, hour-long performance of Morgan’s beloved holiday classic streamed to your home.

‘Tis the Season

A fall performance to put you in the holiday spirit! The program will be featuring a world premiere by Amy Hall Garner, one of DDP’s Round 1 Global Conversations guests. The performance reflects the company’s classical sensibility coupled with its desire to push the boundaries of ballet. The show airs on December 14 on WREG Channel 3 in Memphis. The full length performance will be available for ONE Members worldwide on December 13.

Karen Russo Burke‘s The Nutcracker

A virtual streaming of Dayton Ballet’s The Nutcracker, celebrating 25 years of the holiday performances. Available on December 11 at 8pm.

Toni Pimble‘s The Nutcracker

A virtual streaming experience of Pimble’s two-act, “detail-rich” ballet, featuring behind the scenes interviews. Streaming begins on December 23.

 A Night at the Ballet

Founded and led by three women, Christine Shevchenko, Melanie Hamrick, and Joanna DeFelice, Live Arts Global is offering a program of various works this December, which will be performed by some of the world’s biggest ballet stars and  streamed to your home at no cost. Available beginning on December 17.

The Christmas Ballet

Smuin’s annual holiday program—virtual this year—welcomes back two DDP friends and former Smuin Ballet dancers: Amy Seiwert, who will premiere new work, and freelance choreographer Nicole Haskins, whose works J-I-N-G-L-E Bells and Joy to the World will be performed. Also on the roster are works by company artists Cassidy Isaacson, Tessa Barbour, Brennan Wall, and more. Three programs will be available, with the first beginning on December 11 at 7:30pm PST.

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