Getty Images

This New "Nutcracker" Competition Wants Your Dance Studio to be Part of a Virtual Collaboration

Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."


How It Works

UBC has divided various scenes and divertissements that make up The Nutcracker into categories. (Think Party Scene, Battle Scene, Snow Pas de Deux, etc.) Studios and conservatories, along with individual dancers, are asked to submit footage of these scenes from previous performances or in-studio recordings (though costuming and makeup is encouraged) to UBC through the company's website. The entry fee for each submission is $45, with multiple-entry pricing available.

The competition will be livestreamed on December 12, featuring all submissions that make up Act I, and on December 13, featuring all submissions that make up Act II. "We thought it would be cool for parents and directors to see, say, 20 different versions of Mother Ginger for future inspiration," says UBC co-founder David Lucas. "It's a fun way to promote the different studios who are all facing challenges, embrace the season, and learn from one another."

Blurred ballerinas in long white tutus dance on a wooden floor and are viewed from backstage.

Getty Images

The jurors for the competition include: Pennsylvania Ballet assistant artistic director Samantha Dunster, Kansas City Ballet School director Grace Maduell Holmes, Royal Winnipeg Ballet associate director Tara Birtwhistle, Orlando Ballet School principal teacher Charmaine Hunter and international master teacher Duncan Cooper.

An online awards ceremony announcing each scene's top three submissions (and their subsequent cast members) will be held on December 14. The first-place clips will then be strung together to create a final cohesive recording of The Virtual Nutcracker, which audiences can stream for free on UBC's website on December 19.

"At this time, the arts have to show we are stronger than COVID-19," Lucas says. "United as a community, we still go on. Dancers, studios and companies cannot survive without performances—let's continue the Nutcracker tradition in a safe environment."

Related Articles Around the Web

Latest Posts


Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB

NYCB's Maria Kowroski Reflects on the Challenges, Joys and Mysteries of Balanchine’s "Mozartiana"

The first time I was called to learn Mozartiana, I didn't think I would actually get to do it. It's a coveted ballerina role in the company, and I was still early in my career. But I got to dance it once or twice, and then not again for many years. The ballet isn't in our repertoire that often, so each time we've performed it I've been at a different level as a person and as an artist.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Ask Amy: How Can I Overcome My Fear of Pirouettes on Pointe?

I have a terrible fear of falling when doing turns on pointe. I sometimes cry in class when we have to do new turns that I'm not used to. I can only do bad singles on a good day, while some of my classmates are doing doubles and triples. How can I get over this fear? —Gaby

Keep reading SHOW LESS
xmb photography, Courtesy The Washington Ballet

The Washington Ballet's Sarah Steele on Her At-Home Workouts

Ballet at home: Since she's not preparing for any immediate performances, Steele takes ballet barre three to four times a week. "I'm working in more of a maintenance mode," she says, prioritizing her ankles and the intrinsic muscles in her feet. "If you don't work those muscles, they disappear really quickly. I've been focusing on a baseline level of ballet muscle memory."

What she's always working on: Strengthening her glute-hamstring connection (the "under-butt" area), which provides stability for actions like repetitive relevés and power for jumps. Bridges are her go-to move for conditioning those muscles. "Those 'basic food group'–type exercises are some of the best ones," she says.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks