by Paul Vasterling, CEO & Artistic Director, Nashville Ballet

After dancing in more than 120 individual performances of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and directing nearly 150, I get asked all the time if I’m tired of it.

Am I tired of hearing holiday music before my Halloween decorations have been stored for the year? Am I haunted by ballet scenes between giant mice and magical Nutcrackers? Will I just scream if I hear another joke about visions of sugar plum fairies dancing in my head? After 11 performance of Nashville’s Nutcracker this year, am I going to escape to the Southern Hemisphere for Christmas where I’m sure to avoid any more “snow scenes” this year?

You would think, wouldn’t you?

Anyone who has been a dancer, director, choreographer, musician or conductor in the world of ballet could be really cynical about committing every December to staging this holiday classic. But surprisingly, I’m not cynical, or tired, or “so over it.”

For me, December wouldn’t be the same without Sugar Plums, dancing snowflakes, toys come to life or that menacing Mouse King and this bullying band of rodents.

For me, it’s about bringing the beauty of dance and music to Nashville and Tennessee.

It’s about inspiring a whole new generation of dancers, musicians and artists to create art.

It’s about inspiring audiences to enjoy ballet and learn about a new form of artistic expression.

But most importantly for me, the year cannot pass by without seeing the faces of the children in the audience and on stage in our youth cast. Staging

this performance every year is about the wonder, amazement and sheer joy in their little faces. I remember vividly the first time I saw a full performance of The Nutcracker – I was a performer just like the children in our youth cast. Even after all these performances, I still remember that first one because it was such a magical, memorable experience. And seeing the excitement on a whole new set of faces each December motivates me for the following year.

I often encourage people to attend Nashville’s Nutcracker with a child and try to see the magic through their eyes, even if they’ve seen the performance as many times as I have.

So no, I’m not tired of the music, the dancing or the story. It warms my heart every year, and I appreciate every opportunity to be part of an experience that inspires children and adults to love art, dance, music and live theater.

And if this Nutcracker can still warm my heart after all of the performances I’ve seen, then there must be something truly magical about it.


What are some of your favorite memories of seeing The Nutcracker

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