Go ‘Nuts’ Between Thanksgiving and Christmas

‘Tis the season at Ovation TV for another year of Battle of the Nutcrackers!

Watch and vote in the Battle of the Nutcrackers on Ovation TVThis is the 6th year Ovation is running the contest in which viewers get to vote for their favorite Nutcracker. Six performances featuring companies from all over the world will be shown throughout the holiday season.

Of the 4 competing ‘Nuts’, vote for your favorite on Facebook and you’ll be entered to win a $500 shopping spree.

Viewing begins on the Ovation network on Sunday, November 25.

A new Nutcracker will be shown each Sunday with encore showings airing through Christmas. The viewers’ choice, as determined by your votes, will be unveiled on Christmas Eve and you can tune in to an all-day Nutcracker marathon on Christmas Day.

So, which of the gazillion Nutcracker versions can you view and vote for this year?

For a fun comparison, here are the selections, each with a clip of their respective Sugar Plum sequence!

The Nutcracker: Royal Opera Ballet HD (2009)

Royal Opera Ballet – The Nutcracker – Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy & Coda – Ovation

Watch this video on YouTube.

In this magical production of the beloved Christmas classic, members of the Royal Opera Ballet inhabit their roles with a fluid elegance that brings this lush production to life. Miyako Yoshida is a standout, playing the Sugarplum Fairy with finesse. Sets and costumes are sweeping in scope. Audiences will enjoy the spectacle as they watch Clara find her Prince in this dazzling imagination-land of sights and sounds.

Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!

Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! – Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy – Ovation

Watch this video on YouTube.

A specially televised version of award-winning choreographer Matthew Bourne’s interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet – the Nutcracker. This delicious production is full of pathos and theatrical magic. From a hilariously bleak Christmas Eve at Dr. Dross’ Orphanage, to the spectacular candy folk of Sweetieland, Clara’s journey passes through Oliver Twist, the Icecapades and the kaleidoscopic fantasy of Busby Berkeley musicals. See why this bold interpretation was an instant hit!

Bolshoi Ballet: The Nutcracker

Bolshoi Ballet – The Nutcracker – Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy – Ovation

Watch this video on YouTube.

Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker, which was written in 1891, premiered in St. Petersburg in 1892 and first performed at the Bolshoi Theatre Moscow in 1919, shows no sign of losing its hold as the No. 1 Christmas ballet. It is based on the fairytale ‘The Nutcracker’ and the King of Mice written by E.T.A. Hoffman and tells the story of the young girl Clara, who dreams of a Nutcracker Prince and a fierce battle against a Mouse King with seven heads. This traditional presentation of The Nutcracker comes to life through the sophisticated choreography of Yuri Grigorovich. It is filled with beautiful music – the Waltz of the Snow flakes and the pas de deux of Sugar-Plum Fairy and Prince have become immortal – as well as enchanting costumes and a fabulous setting at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

(world premiere) The Nutcracker: Mariinsky 2012

Mariinsky – The Nutcracker – Dance of the Sugar Plum Fair & Coda – Ovation

Watch this video on YouTube.

A World Premiere Ovation Original Nutcracker, this production brings to life spectacular production values and expansive set decoration that makes the viewer feel like they are a part of Clara’s world.

Additional performances airing this year include:

 Nutcracker: San Francisco Ballet (2008)

San Francisco Ballet – The Nutcracker – Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy – Ovation

Watch this video on YouTube.

A tradition in the city by the bay since 1944, the San Francisco Ballet, starring Elizabeth Powell, portrays a sparkling rendition of the traditional holiday experience.

Nutcracker: The Story of Clara

The Story of Clara – The Nutcracker – Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy – Ovation

Watch this video on YouTube.

Graeme Murphy directs this uniquely Australian Nutcracker in which an aging ballerina reminisces about Nutcrackers past.

Not familiar with Ovation?

The network is available via select cable and satellite providers and has lots of great arts programming (not just dance). It’s been a favorite of mine for a number of years. Find Ovation in your area by entering your zip code at ovationtv.com

Which is your favorite Sugar Plum (of the ones above)?

Tell us in the comments!

Dance Advantage receives compensation for helping promote Ovation’s Battle of the Nutcrackers

Nichelle (owner/editor)
Nichelle Suzanne is a writer specializing in dance and online content. She is also a dance instructor with over 20 years experience teaching in dance studios, community programs, and colleges. She began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. As a Houston-based dance writer, Nichelle covers dance performance for Dance Source Houston, Arts+Culture Texas, and other publications. She is a leader in social media within the dance community and has presented on blogging for dance organizations, including Dance/USA. Nichelle provides web consulting and writing services for dancers, dance schools and studios, and those beyond the dance world.
Nichelle (owner/editor)
Nichelle (owner/editor)
Nichelle (owner/editor)
Nichelle (owner/editor)

Latest posts by Nichelle (owner/editor) (see all)


  1. Jackie Joy says:

    I prefer the Sugar Plum Fairy of the former Kirov Ballet (Mariinsky).

  2. They were all wonderful, technical difficulty Mariinsky, but Royal Opera Ballet really captures the sugar plum essence, creative accolades to Matthew Bournes. San Francisco and Bolshoi right up there with technical difficulty.

  3. I’m a musician, not a dancer, so the level of technical difficulty is over my head. But my favorite is the Bolshoi, closely followed by the Royal Ballet. How much stamina must Arkhipova have to get through that version! I love the period setting of the production, especially the procession of guests in the beginning. The only part I dislike is the waltz of the flowers, where the dancers are smothered in funereal lilac costumes. The Royal Ballet version is more ethereal, and Yoshida is magical. I never fail to rerun the Sugar Plum Fairy and pas de deux. They both also feature several shots of the conductor and orchestra (yea, musicians!).

  4. Peggy Gynan says:

    My first choice is San Francisco’s Nutcracker as it has almost all the elements I feel a great Nutcarcker should have-magic, beauty and perfect performances by the dancers. The costmes are lovely as well. The Royal Opera Ballet is almost as good but not quite as satisfying. Both Russian performances are stiffer, less dream-like but the presentation is terrific in both. I loathe Matthew Bourne’s presentation. It is a mockery.

  5. Emily Lawton says:

    My daughter and I love to watch the Nutcracker Ballet and even read various versions especially at Christmas time. Our favorite on stage that we have seen onstage and on film is Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet dancing the version choreographed by Kent Stowell with sets & costumes by Maurice Sendak. We have watched a number of others including some or all parts of the selections offered this year by Ovation. Of these offerings we fell in love with the Bolshoi. The choreography and production is wonderful. The dancing and costumes were delightful and impressive. We did miss seeing children used in the production but the talent shown helps to offset this. Thanks for offering this production as we found a new favorite to parallel our current PNW/Sendak version but as an equal in our eyes.

  6. I feel the joy and excitement of the event is best displayed by the performance of the San Francisco Ballet. In part, that feeling was achieved by the inclusion of so many talented young people from the SFB School. If there were any doubt that these were children, one only had to see how annoyingly “boys-will-be-boys.”

  7. Debra Vankirk says:

    My favorites Bolshoi and Royal Ballet or Royal Ballet and Bolshoi. They are the reason I come back every year to see it every night, again and again. Such a Christmas treat.

  8. Jacques Myers says:

    As a great grandfather; I have watched several versions of Nutcracker/My very favorite out of the four mentioned is “the Story of Clara”/not only do you get to see fantastic lines of the dancers/the choreography relies on the dancer technique/not tricks of dance/also the ages of dancers stand out/not many can say that they did not view their first performance of Ballet, especially the Nutcracker, their Grand/most do/it did bring back a lot of memories/but I truly watched it with awe/Having family members of Dance Theatre of Harlem ,,Opendance, Ballet Arizona, and Alvin Aliey, I do know my Ballet/Male and Females dance in my family/Watching this on Ovation is another way to gather my loved ones round/Young and not so young as myself/Thanks Ovation !/

  9. Just came across this site and was sad to see the National Ballet of Canada was not in the running. I was lucky enough to see their performance and it was amazing. Hoping that in Battle of the Nutcracker 2014 the National Ballet of Canada will be included.

    • Hi Sara,

      I’m not sure of OvationTV’s process for selecting Nutcrackers for their annual presentation and contest, however, I suspect it depends a lot on whether or not a filmed production is made available to their network.

      If the National Ballet of Canada has a performance film for distribution, Ovation may consider your suggestion via their website, twitter account, or facebook page, particularly if other people are requesting it too!