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ABTKids Daily

Week of December 14-18, 2020

Scene from The Nutcracker. Photo: Rosalie O'Connor.
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Experience the excitement of classical ballet at home with ABTKids Daily!

Welcome to ABTKids Daily, American Ballet Theatre’s new home for families and educators to discover digital content for their virtual classrooms.  Join us each day to Meet an ABT Dancer, engage with an ABT Teaching Artist, learn fun facts and enjoy ballet-themed activities from the comfort of your own home.

As America’s National Ballet Company®, ABT is dedicated to preserving and extending the great legacy of classical dancing, through exciting performances and educational programming of the highest quality, presented to the widest possible audience.

Join us each Monday morning to bring the joy of classical ballet to your family. A weekly curriculum will be posted for your discovery!


ABTKids Daily is generously supported by
Bloomberg Philanthropies


Explore this week’s materials below or view the archive here.


Watch ABTKids 2020: B is for Ballet!
Presented in partnership with Random House Children’s Books,
the program is inspired by B Is for Ballet: A Dance Alphabet.

Week of December 14-18, 2020

To Read

To Watch

To Do

The Nutcracker Week

In 1816, Prussian author E.T.A. Hoffmann penned his holiday story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Years later, French author Alexandre Dumas (The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers) adapted the story to make it more lighthearted and a little less scary for children.

Following the success of The Sleeping Beauty, choreographer Marius Petipa and composer Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky set off to turn Dumas’ version into their next commissioned ballet The Nutcracker, which premiered in 1892.

The original production was not very successful. With the exception of Tchaikovsky’s score, the critics and audiences did not have many positive things to say about their ballet.

The Nutcracker’s first complete performance in the United States was performed by San Francisco Ballet in 1944. It instantly became a holiday traditional and the company has annually performed the ballet until this year. This tradition slowly spread across the rest of the United States beginning in the 1960s, where The Nutcracker could be seen from coast to coast.

American Ballet Theatre has performed three productions of The Nutcracker over its 80-year history.

While ABT will not be performing this holiday favorite this year, ABTKids Daily is here to bring you some holiday cheer and enough Nutcracker to get you through the year!

Meet A Dancer Monday

Corps de Ballet Dancer Brittany DeGrofft

The months of November and December are always busy for professional ballet dancers. Every holiday season The Nutcracker is not only performed by major classical ballet companies, it is also performed by virtually every regional company, many universities and colleges, as well as local dance schools and community organizations across the United States.

Today we meet ABT dancer Brittany DeGrofft, as she discusses her first holiday season in 24 years without getting to put on her pointe shoes and dancing to Tchaikovsky’s marvelous score.

Teaching Artist Tuesday

Join one of ABT’s Teaching Artists as they introduce you to ABT and its ballets. Learn a dance, stop and sketch, and don’t forget to have fun!

Up this week: ABT Teaching Artist and ABT JKO School faculty member Alexis Andrews!

The Nutcracker - Battle Scene

What’s up Wednesday 

The Nutcracker Jigsaw Puzzle

It’s not the holidays without some snow!

Throwback Thursday

Every Thursday we pull a photo from our archives and share it with one of our ABT dancers. You never know what stories may come from a single snapshot!

Lauren Post
Corps de Ballet
Joined ABT 2008

“This photo is taken from my very first The Nutcracker performance when I was about six years old. I was so excited to be in the production as I had watched my older sister Mallory perform in The Nutcracker the year before.

I was thrilled to be dancing as a mouse in the battle scene, and I also somehow weaseled my way into the Party Scene as one of Fritz’s friends, despite being too young for this part. I loved the exhilarating music of the Battle Scene and enjoyed playing one of the mischievous mice. Since I was the smallest of the mice, I was chosen to be the one who gets tossed in the air (and caught!) by Drosselmeyer during the battle. I loved this part of the scene and felt very special in my big moment. When it came time for the first performance, I was very excited and apparently so was the dancer who played Drosselmeyer.  He threw me so high up in the air and with such force that I actually ended up doing a back-flip! Somehow Drosselmeyer managed to catch me by a leg and an arm, and we continued the rest of the scene seamlessly.

After the show everyone in the audience was talking about the daring flip. Drosselmeyer felt very bad for what had happened, but I was ecstatic! I went around telling everyone proudly that ‘I got me a flip.’ It was my first taste of the thrills of live performance and how you never know what is going to happen once the curtain goes up! I’m pretty sure this experience is what solidified my love of performing which I still feel to this day.”

View More Photos of Lauren!

Writing Prompt

Write about a time that you got to do something thrilling – like when Lauren “got me a flip!”

The Nutcracker Mini-Match

Match then and now photos from The Nutcracker for these four ABT dancers!

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    Funtime Friday

    The Nutcracker Puppet Show

    Bring the story of The Nutcracker to life with your very own puppet show! Choose from any combination of the eight characters below to bring your story to life!


    1. Print out your characters. (We recommend printing on cardstock or heavier paper.)
    2. Color your characters using crayons, colored pencils, or markers.
    3. Cut out your character.
    4. Find a wooden stick, straw, chopstick, pipe cleaner, and tape to the back of your cut out character.
    5. REPEAT for each new character.

    Click on a character to view and print.


    ABT JKO School Children's Division Online Community Classes

    In the Spring of 2020, @ABTSchool launched virtual classes taught by former ABT dancers, ABT JKO School faculty and ABT teaching artists – all certified in the ABT National Training Curriculum.

    Recommended for ages 2-4 and 5-8, these classes engage ABT’s youngest students and their families, as well as the global community at large, by exploring musicality, fostering creativity and imagination, and teaching ballet fundamentals.

    View the full series on @ABTSchool IGTV or ABT’s YouTube Channel.

    @ABTSchool IGTVYouTube

    Photo: Richard Corman.