Willson School Auditorium.

Doors will open for the annual MBC Nutcracker on December 3rd in the Willson School Auditorium. 

This year marks the 39th annual performance of the “Nutcracker” at the Montana Ballet Company (MBC). The performance will take place on Saturday, Dec. 3, and Sunday, Dec. 4, during the Christmas Stroll in downtown Bozeman, before touring to Butte for the first time. 

A tradition that started in 1983, the “Nutcracker” is a must-see performance for the people of Bozeman. Elizabeth Defanti, MBC’s artistic director, said, “We have heard from so many wonderful patrons that they look forward to it every year and it becomes a real tradition for their families.”

For Defanti, this is a special time of the year. As patrons and fans await the new performance, she reminisced on her own appearances in the “Nutcracker.”  

“Each cast is unique,” she said. More than a hundred community members and dancers auditioned to perform last September. 

“We hold an open audition for all community members ages six and above [and] every dancer who auditioned is given a role,” Defanti said. 

Auditions were held specifically for MBC dancers, who will be accompanied by principal dancers and a quarter-ballet composed of community dancers and members of the Montana Ballet Academy.

Two couples will join the MBC dancers for the performances alternating at each of the venues. Two principle dancers from the San Francisco Ballet, WanTing Zhao and Wei Wang, will be performing in Bozeman, and New York City Ballet dancers Emma Von Enck and Sabastiàn Villani-Vélez will be performing in Butte.

“‘Nutcracker’ season,” as Defanti calls this time of year, is a tradition people will recognize and identify with. To keep the tradition “alive and fresh,” after directing the “Nutcracker” at the MBC for thirteen years, Defanti counts on new costumes, technical lighting and choreographies. “I always like to tailor the choreography to the cast that I have,” she said about this year’s performance. 

Such a tradition is important for the community. When the pandemic hit in 2020, “Nutcracker” fans and patrons missed seeing the performance, and for its comeback last year, all dates were sold out. The MBC hopes to see the Willson Auditorium full this year as well.

Also, don’t miss the “Little Mermaid” next year – which will be performed by the MBC in February and “Connections 2023” – featuring renowned dancers from around the world – on April 21, 2023.