no nutcracker this year

Houston Ballet cancels The Nutcracker and announces staff layoffs

Houston Ballet cancels The Nutcracker and announces staff layoffs

Houston Ballet Principal Karina González as Sugar Plum Fairy and Soloist Harper Watters as Nutcracker Prince with Artists of Houston Ballet and Students of Houston Ballet Academy in Stanton Welch’s The Nutcracker
Houston fans will miss The Nutcracker Photo by Amitava Sarkar, courtesy of Houston Ballet

The curtain has drawn on an annual Houston holiday tradition. The Houston Ballet announced on Monday, July 20, that it has canceled the winter performance of the Tchaikovsky classic, The Nutcracker.

A beloved fan favorite, The Nutcracker generates some $5 million in revenue, but will not go on as scheduled due to COVID-19 concerns, the ballet said in a statement announcing changes to the 2020-2021 season. The Nutcracker was slated for a November 27 through December 27 run date.

The ballet adds that since it was forced to cut its 50th anniversary season short due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has lost $1.3 million in revenue. Season package repertories, Love Letters (September 11-20) and Mayerling (September 24 – October 4) have also been canceled. The ballet also announced that some 30 percent of its full-time staff have been laid off until further notice; those who remain will have their salaries cut. Dancers and orchestra members have also been put on extended leave.

To assist these members, the ballet has launched a $5 million fundraising campaign.

However, the show will go on via Margaret Alkek Williams Jubilee of Dance on December 4, along with a limited number of performances of a holiday special. Subscribers will be notified regarding these changes via email, the ballet notes.

“We are not finished creating,” said Houston Ballet artistic director, Stanton Welch, in a statement. “We’ve demonstrated that time and time again. While the future is uncertain, this is not. We can and will bring high-quality art to this city through dance, whether you see it from the house of a theater or your living room couch.”