SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The San Francisco Ballet announced Monday that the dance company would not be holding live, in-person Nutcracker performances this December due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision was made based on the current health restrictions imposed on large public events by the pandemic and the planned closure of the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center to public audiences through December 31.

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Nutcracker is a tradition that I look forward to each year,” SF Ballet Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson said in a press release. “It brings out the child in every one of us, and for me personally it brings me back to my childhood in Iceland, where the singing, music, and games each holiday season are still vivid in my mind. Here in San Francisco, I cherish seeing a new group of children from the School learn roles for these performances, beaming and looking forward to their appearance on the big stage.”

Tomasson continued: “We are a family of dancers, students, and loyal patrons that come together for these performances each year. Even though we will not be able to experience Nutcracker in person this year due to the health crisis, I know San Francisco Ballet will be a part of the Bay Area’s holiday tradition, maybe digitally or through other creative avenues. Perhaps all of this will make our reunion next year all the more special.”

Last year, the SF Ballet’s annual staging of the classic Russian Christmas ballet marked its 75th year as part of the company’s standard repertoire. Nutcracker brings more than 75,000 people to the Opera House each December, according to the SF Ballet.

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The Ballet’s Executive Director Kelly Tweeddale expressed some hope that the company would be able to host a virtual presentation of the Christmas classic to help fill the tradition.

“San Francisco Ballet experienced a record number of people — over one and a half million — streaming and accessing content as part of the SF Ballet @ Home platform created shortly after the San Francisco shelter-in-place order closed our performance venue. We are exploring options and working with our artists and our digital archives to see what might be possible. Being able to continue the Nutcracker tradition, especially in a digital environment, would be an apt reflection of our community.”

The SF Ballet presented America’s first complete performance of Nutcracker in 1944. Every dancer on SF Ballet’s roster dances in Nutcracker, and SF Ballet School contributes more than 160 students to perform roles as Clara, Fritz, snowflakes, waltzing flowers, party children, bugs, soldiers, mice and other roles.

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