Last Updated on November 11, 2023

Westside Ballet of Santa Monica presents its 50th-anniversary celebration of “The Nutcracker,” Southern California’s longest-running rendition at The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage, November 25 through December 3, 2023.

Since its debut in 1973, this beloved production has become a cherished tradition, captivating audiences with its magical allure. Three illustrious Westside Ballet alumni—special guest stars Tiler Peck, Lucia Connolly, and Lyrica Woodruff—will each take center stage as the enchanting Sugar Plum Fairy. These extraordinary artists return to their roots, making these performances truly memorable.

“As we celebrate Westside Ballet’s remarkable 50th-anniversary production, we honor our legacy through the exceptional artistry of our star alumni,” Judith Meister, Producer & Westside Ballet President, said. “This year’s ‘Nutcracker’ is poised to be an unforgettable journey into the enchanting world of dance, art, and magic, blending the spirit of tradition with the brilliance of our talented performers.”

Elevated Production and Music

Set to the majestic score of Tchaikovsky led by The Santa Monica College Symphony Orchestra, this year’s milestone production will amaze audiences with newly enhanced set designs and costumes. Featuring over 107 dancers, 225 costumes, and four lavishly designed scenes, Westside Ballet’s “Nutcracker” retains the most memorable traditional characters and iconic moments—including a tree that grows, a firing cannon, angels gliding on clouds, and falling snow over a stunning corps de ballet.

Westside Ballet: A Remarkable History

Westside Ballet’s story begins in 1973 when Yvonne Mounsey, renowned for her illustrious career with the New York City Ballet, shared her love for ballet and the arts with the Santa Monica community. In collaboration with Rosemary Valaire, another distinguished ballet artist from the Royal Ballet, Mounsey founded Westside Ballet.

Over the past five decades, Westside Ballet has remained dedicated to providing promising young dancers with opportunities for artistic development.

Mounsey’s legacy, both as a performer and a mentor, continues to shine through her students’ extraordinary achievements and through the leadership of the co-founders’ former student, Martine Harley (Houston Ballet), who took over as Artistic Director in 2013 after Mounsey’s passing.

Balanchine Inspired

Westside Ballet of Santa Monica "The Nutcracker."
Westside Ballet of Santa Monica “The Nutcracker” from previous performance. Courtesy Westside Ballet of Santa Monica.

Based on the romanticist E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and the Marius Petipa classic, Westside’s “Nutcracker” preserves the spirit of choreographer George Balanchine as carried on by Mounsey, who pioneered the role of Center Spanish while a New York City Ballet principal dancer.

From the moment the theater lights dim, audiences embark on a journey into a whimsical realm of Christmas wonder where the merriment and festive spirit of the season come alive.

In the Victorian-style party scene, menacing mice engage in epic battles with valiant toy soldiers, and a dashing Prince guides Clara through the enchanting Land of Snow, where swirling flurries are conjured by the mesmerizing Snow Queen.

As Act II unfolds, heavenly angels poised on billowing clouds, herald Clara and her Prince’s arrival in the Land of the Sweets. Clara is entertained by a delightful array of performances, including Spanish chocolate, Arabian coffee, Peppermints, Chinese tea, and marzipan Mirlitons, each presenting their own unique charms. In the grand finale, a graceful waltz of flowers surrounds the shimmering Dew Drop Fairy before the radiant Sugar Plum Fairy and her elegant Cavalier take center stage in their magnificent pas de deux.

The entire Kingdom bids Clara a fond farewell as she embarks on her journey home, sailing through a glittering night sky in a magical sleigh.

Westside Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” has been featured numerous times in the Los Angeles Times and received national recognition as one of Pointe Magazine’s preferred Nutcracker productions.

Resident Guest Artists

Westside Ballet’s Resident Guest Artist of 10 years, Evan Swenson, will reprise the principal role of the Snow
Queen’s Cavalier, as well as the Arabian pas de deux. A native of central California, Mr. Swenson was accepted
to the Houston Ballet Academy on full scholarship at age 17. He has worked with several SoCal companies
such as Helios Dance Theater, Barak Ballet, Clairobscur, Backhaus Dance, Inland Pacific Ballet, and as a guest
artist at several studio companies throughout the state.

The fourth male guest principal, Jack Virga Hall, will alternate with Mr. Swenson in the Arabian pas de deux. Hall is co-director of Ohana Dance and an ABT-certified teacher based out of Los Angeles.

Performance Details

Venue: The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center
1310 11th St, Santa Monica, CA 90401.

Show Dates and Times:

Saturday, November 25:
1 pm Lyrica Woodruff & Maté Szentes
5 pm Lucia Connolly & Maté Szentes

Sunday November 26:
1 pm Lucia Connolly & Maté Szentes
5 pm Lyrica Woodruff & Maté Szentes

Second Weekend:
Saturday, December 2 – 1 pm and 5 pm: Tiler Peck & Roman Mejia
Sunday, December 3 – 1 pm and 5 pm: Tiler Peck & Roman Mejia

Ticket Prices: All tickets are $60.

Ticket Purchase: Tickets may be purchased online at or by phone (additional fees apply) at (800) 595 – 4849 (4TIX).

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