Ballet gives out 2,500 ‘Nashville’s Nutcracker’ tickets to economically underserved for 13th year

two ballerinas performing on stage

There’s no denying the healing power of the arts.

For many members of our community, unfortunately, the opportunity to enjoy a live performance is often out of reach — particularly at the holidays.

couple dancing on stage

Nashville Ballet’s Holiday Magic program provides tickets to ‘Nashville’s Nutcracker.’

But Nashville Ballet has been working to change that by spreading the spirit of the season with its Holiday Magic program.

Integral to Nashville Ballet’s mission, Holiday Magic allows the organization to inspire and entertain economically disadvantaged individuals by introducing them to one of the most popular ballets of all time.

Each year, the Ballet teams up with dozens of local nonprofit organizations to provide 2,500 complimentary tickets to Nashville’s Nutcracker. Though this is the 13th year consecutive year of the Ballet’s participation, the program has been around for 30 years. First established in 1989 (the year of Nashville Ballet’s very first Nutcracker production), Holiday Magic is now one of many community engagement programs the Ballet participates in — all of which work to share the beauty, artistry and athleticism of dance.

“This opportunity gives [women in our program] the chance to experience something like nothing they have ever experienced before,” says a representative of Thistle Farms Magdalene Residential Program, a long time Holiday Magic partner organization.

Thistle Farms is one of various organizations, such as Big Brothers Big SistersBoys & Girls ClubsMartha O’Bryan Center and Operation Stand Down, who are the recipients of approximately $87,500 each year — with corporate sponsors and individual donations helping to underwrite the costs.

Nashville Ballet’s Community Engagement Manager Briona Richardson is responsible for organizing and executing Holiday Magic ticket donations. For Richardson, the Holiday Magic initiative is all about fostering a love of dance to those who most need it.

“If we can use this larger than life, enchanting ballet to make people’s December just a little brighter, then we’ve done the work we set out to do and that’s exactly what this season is all about,” Richardson says.

“There’s nothing more important to [Nashville Ballet] than using the transformative power of art to inspire others.” -Briona Richardson


Accompanied by a live performance by the Nashville Symphony, Holiday Magic ticket recipients have the privilege of witnessing two of Music City’s most beloved arts organizations at once-an opportunity many ticket recipients might otherwise never have.

A grand scale production featuring an enormous cast of 25 Company members, 27 NB2 dancers, 60 Nashville Symphony members and a youth cast of almost 300, Nashville’s Nutcracker captivates audiences with a heavy dose of cheer during this special time of year.

Nashville's Nutcracker cast on stage

Nashville Ballet employs a youth cast of 300 for ‘Nashville’s Nutcracker.’

“We’ve had well over 1,000 young dancers take the stage in the Nashville’s Nutcracker youth cast over the years,” Nashville Ballet Artistic Director Paul Vasterling says. “The youth cast is such an integral part of the overall success of this larger than life production.”

The Nashville Ballet has performed Nashville’s Nutcracker since 2008 and has since “cemented itself in the hearts of numerous patrons and young artists as a treasured holiday tradition,” according to a recent press release.

Set in 1897 at the Centennial Exposition in Nashville, the show follows Clara and Uncle Drosselmeyer, who gifts Clara with a wooden nutcracker on Christmas Eve.

The toy magically transforms to life as a handsome prince and leads her on an unforgettable adventure. Clara encounters a captivating collection of fascinating friends including everyone from the Snow Queen to the Sugar Plum Fairy, as well as the delightful characters she met at the Exposition. When Clara finally returns home, the audience is left to decide if it was all just a dream–or not.

a young girl posing with a ballerina and a life-sized nutcracker

Memories made at ‘Nashville’s Nutcracker Photo Experience’ by PNC Bank.

PNC Bank is the presenting sponsor of Nashville’s Nutcracker. Their generous support has been integral in developing Nashville Ballet’s brand-new Nutcracker Experience in the lobby prior to performances. This season ballet goers will enjoy even more holiday cheer when attending one of the 15 performances of Nashville’s Nutcracker.

“By producing these stunning performances year after year, The Nutcracker has become a special way for children and families to celebrate the holiday season,” says Mike Johnson, PNC regional president of Tennessee. “We continue to delight in bringing this holiday tradition to families across our region.”

Nashville’s Nutcracker runs through Dec. 23 at TPAC’s Jackson Hall. Purchase tickets in person at the TPAC box office, by phone or online. Call 615-782-4040 or visit Find the performance schedule and more information on the Nashville Ballet’s website. Tickets start at $35.

Reach Michael Aldrich on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @michaelwaldrich.

Nashville Ballet is the largest professional ballet company in Tennessee. Nashville Ballet presents a varied repertoire of classical ballet and contemporary works by noted choreographers, including original works by Artistic Director Paul Vasterling. Nashville Ballet and the Second Company, NB2 (a pre-professional training company), provide more than 55,000 arts experiences to adults and children annually through season performances and its Community Engagement programming. Curriculum-based Community Engagement programs bring dance education to community centers, colleges, public libraries and public elementary, middle and high schools across the state. School of Nashville Ballet brings world-class dance instruction to students age 2 through adulthood. To learn more about the Nashville Ballet, please visit

Nashville Ballet receives public funding from Metro Arts, Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Contributions from local, regional and national institutional funders and community partners, as well as hundreds of generous individuals, provide ongoing support of Nashville Ballet’s mission-critical programs.

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