Atlanta Ballet Cancels "The Nutcracker"

Company is forced to call off Atlanta’s beloved holiday production due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ATLANTA (Aug. 4, 2020) – After having to cancel the March and May programs of its 19|20 season and the opening program of its 20|21 season due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta Ballet announced that its spectacular production of The Nutcracker by Yuri Possokhov will also be canceled. This is only the second season that Atlanta Ballet will be without a Nutcracker production in 61 years – the first being when the Company instead performed Sleeping Beauty in 1968. Atlanta Ballet tentatively pushes its revised 20|21 performance season to February 2021.  

“We are devastated to have to share this news with our longstanding, loyal patrons and the new audiences that would be joining us for The Nutcracker’s first run of performances at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, but the safety of the community and our artists is paramount,” says Arturo Jacobus, President & CEO of Atlanta Ballet. “When the required lead time to mount this highly technical and physically large production is coupled with the uncertainty surrounding public health come December, the obstacles are simply insurmountable. We can’t wait to see all the patrons, ballet fans and supporters that help make up our Atlanta Ballet family in the spring, and look forward to a glorious gala debut of The Nutcracker at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in December of 2021.” 

Original projections for this year's production of The Nutcracker, presented by The Carlos Family in Honor of Thalia N. Carlos, were based on selling 52,000 seats, approximately 65% of available capacity at Cobb Energy Centre, earning total revenue of $3.6 million, resulting in a net positive of $1.6 million to the bottom line. 

“While The Nutcracker sells more tickets and generates more revenue for Atlanta Ballet than any other program, it is also the most costly production to present on stage,” said Elizabeth Adams, Chair of Atlanta Ballet’s Board of Trustees. “Even if the venue were open and patrons were to feel confident about gathering indoors in large numbers – which is an unlikely scenario – for Atlanta Ballet to prepare, market and perform its extraordinary production of The Nutcracker with the measures required to keep its artists and audiences safe would result in a huge financial loss for the organization.” 

Described as “one of the most entertaining [Nutcrackers] out there” by The Washington Post following last year’s Washington, D.C. debut at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, this innovative production, which premiered in 2018, features larger-than-life sets and bold costumes enhanced by striking video projections, created by a world-class creative team that includes Tony Award-winning and -nominated designers.  

“We are honored to know that The Nutcracker is a beloved holiday tradition for so many families in our community, but we have to make the decision that is in the best interest of our artists, staff and audiences,” said Gennadi Nedvigin, Atlanta Ballet Artistic Director. “But rest assured – Nutcracker fans will still get their fix this holiday season. While we won’t be able to gather together in the theatre, we are in the process of developing new approaches for audiences to experience the magic of The Nutcracker in a new, perhaps virtual, way.” 

This production, which would have been performed 30 times between December 5-30, 2020, has a distinctive set of challenges in terms of maintaining social distance throughout rehearsals and the performance run due to the incredible number of people that are required to come together in perfect harmony in order to present a successful show. The production includes Atlanta Ballet’s roster of 39 Company dancers, 19 Atlanta Ballet 2 dancers, and 168 students from the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education – who collectively spend more than 400 hours rehearsing in the studio in the months leading up to opening night. Additionally, it requires more than 40 musicians in the orchestra, more than 35 crew members, and multiple costumers, lighting and design techs, and production members, to bring the magic of The Nutcracker to life. A whopping 11 stagehands are needed just to move the 30-foot toy cabinet across the stage during the awe-inspiring battle scene. 

"Our Company dancers are eager to get back into the studio, even during their usual summer time off, but the reality of COVID-19’s presence in our state and country requires us to maintain a strict protocol before we can go back to rehearsing and performing as we used to do,” Nedvigin said in regards to keeping Atlanta Ballet dancers safe and healthy.

“We know that our young dancers are so disappointed to lose the exciting opportunity to perform on stage with the Company this holiday season,” said Sharon Story, Dean of the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education. “We are so grateful for the patience, understanding and support we’ve received from our incredible Centre families throughout all of the challenges we have navigated during this unprecedented year. While it won’t be the same as performing in the theatre, we are dedicated to turning this into a positive time for our students, and look forward to carrying on the tradition in a different, yet meaningful way.”   

In addition to ticket-buying patrons, The Nutcracker has an incredible impact on our community. Atlanta Ballet intended to continue sharing and educating young audiences on the empowering joy of dance through its community engagement program Kids In Step – a student matinee series where thousands of students have the opportunity to enjoy an abbreviated performance of The Nutcracker as well as a special behind-the-scenes glimpse of the magic that happens backstage. With the cancellation of this production, more than 10,000 children across the metro-Atlanta area will miss this opportunity to experience the power of live performance – many of which may not otherwise have the chance to step inside a theatre.

“The terrible impact that COVID-19 has had on the performing arts cannot be underestimated, and during these challenging times of unpredictability and isolation, we need the benefits of art more than ever,” Adams continued. “Art expands our world view, breaks down barriers and lifts our spirits. I can't think of a time that we've needed all of these things more than now. Atlanta Ballet's cancellation of this critically acclaimed version of a beloved holiday ballet is certainly a blow to our organization and a disappointment for children, families and ballet lovers throughout the metro area.”

Atlanta Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker has been generously supported by sponsors including The Carlos Family in Honor of Thalia N. Carlos, PNC, Jones Day Foundation, Arrow Exterminators, The Home Depot Foundation, The Zeist Foundation, The Sara Giles Moore Foundation and The Imlay Foundation.

Atlanta Ballet is committed to providing audiences with a different kind of Nutcracker experience this year, and details on how to connect with Atlanta Ballet dancers, the story’s characters, will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information, visit Atlanta Ballet’s website. To see updates about The Nutcracker and Atlanta Ballet’s revised 20|21 performance season in real time, be sure to follow Atlanta Ballet on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Revised 2020|2021 Season Performance Schedule:

  • Firebird
    • February 12-14, 2021 at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
      • Yuri Possokhov’s Firebird
      • A world premiere by newly-announced choreographer-in-residence Claudia Schreier
  • Giselle
    • March 19-21, 2021 at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
  • Atlanta Ballet 2 Presents: Snow White - a one-hour family ballet
    • April 15-18, 2021 at Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center at City Springs
  • Stars and Stripes
    • May 14-16, 2021 at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
      • George Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes
      • A world premiere by Juliano Nunes

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About Atlanta Ballet:

Founded in 1929, Atlanta Ballet is one of the premier dance companies in the country and the official state Ballet of Georgia. Atlanta Ballet's eclectic repertoire spans ballet history, highlighted by beloved classics and inventive originals. After 90 seasons, Atlanta Ballet continues its commitment to share and educate audiences on the empowering joy of dance. In 1996, Atlanta Ballet opened its Centre for Dance Education, which is dedicated to nurturing young dancers while providing an outlet for adults to express their creativity. The Centre serves over 150,000 people in metro Atlanta each year. Atlanta Ballet's roots remain firmly grounded in the Atlanta community and continue to play a vital role in the city's cultural growth and revitalization. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter @atlantaballet, and like us on Facebook at


Media Contact:
Julia Berg
Director of Public Relations – Atlanta Ballet