Nutcracker for Kids cover

Nutcracker for Kids


Visions of sugarplums and beautiful ballerinas will dance in your head after seeing Tchaikovsky’s delightful Christmas ballet, performed in a condensed version created just for kids. This annual favorite finishes with a grand finale sing-along and a jolly visit from Santa himself!
Join in the fun at the interactive Musical Carnival in the concert hall lobby, where kids can test drive a musical instrument, meet the performers, and enjoy musical arts and crafts activities themed to the morning's concert. Activities begin at 9 a.m. for 10 a.m. concertgoers and 12:15 p.m. for 11:30 a.m. concertgoers.
Roger Kalia, conductor
Festival Ballet Theatre — Salwa Rizkalla, artistic director
Pacific Symphony

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Nutcracker for Kids

The concerts begin at 10 and 11:30 a.m.

Join us for an interactive Musical Carnival at 9 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.

Nutcracker for Kids



Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 - 1893)

The Nutcracker (Excerpts)

The Christmas Tree & March

Arrival of Drosselmeyer

Clara’s Gift

The Battle

A Pine Forest in Winter (Journey through the Snow)


The Spanish Dance (Chocolate)

The Chinese Dance (Tea)

The Russian Dance (Candy Canes)

Dance of the Reed Flutes

Waltz of the Flowers

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy

Final Waltz and Grand Finale

Various Holiday Sing Along

Acting coach for Maestro Kalia: Joe Lauderdale


Dear Friends,

I am thrilled to have all of you with us today for our performance of one of the most iconic works ever written, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. I will be conducting the fantastic musicians of Pacific Symphony as well as the talented dancers from Festival Ballet Theater for this unique production.

From the very opening notes played by Pacific Symphony, our imaginations will take us to a fantastical world filled with dolls, mice and sugar plum fairies. I will guide the story from the podium, and speak about our Spotlight Instrument, the percussion.

The percussion section consists of many instruments including the tambourine and ratchet, both of which you will hear during the performance today. The ratchet represents none other than the Nutcracker!

Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker contains some of the most inspiring and beautiful music ever written. In addition to the Sugar Plum Fairy’s dance, we will also experience dances from exotic places like Spain, Russia and China.

I also hope that you will join us on February 3 for our next concert, Fledermaus: The Bat- Man’s Revenge, a special production of Johann Strauss, Jr.’s Die Fledermaus, which will feature amazing singers and actors! But first, enjoy the magical journey that you are about to embark on, and who knows, maybe there will even be a special guest chanting the words, “Ho, Ho, Ho…”

May your holidays be filled with joy and I wish you all the best for the New Year!

Music is life!

Spotlight on Percussion

Spotlight on Percussion

The percussion family of instruments contains a wide variety of instruments and includes anything that makes a sound when it is shaken, scraped or hit. Instruments like the tambourine and the maracas are shaken, while the güiro is scraped with a stick to make sound.

The most well-known percussion instruments include keyboards and all kinds of drums, which are hit with drumsticks, mallets or hands. Even more percussion instruments, like the cymbals or castanets, make sound when you hit them together.

Some percussion instruments, like the xylophone and timpani, are called pitched percussion because they are tuned and play different notes. Others, like the bass drum, snare drum and claves, are considered unpitched because they can’t be tuned or play particular notes. Both pitched and unpitched percussion instruments are featured in the orchestra.

The Nutcracker features many percussion instruments throughout the different dances. Each instrument helps add to the story of The Nutcracker, representing different characters from the ballet.

For example, an instrument called a ratchet makes the Nutcracker’s sound, while the tambourine helps make the dancing dolls come to life. Perhaps the most recognizable percussion instrument in The Nutcracker is the celesta, a keyboard instrument that represents the Sugar Plum Fairy with its light, high-pitched sound. Listen for these and many other percussion instruments as you watch today’s concert!

Festival Ballet Theater

Festival Ballet Theater

Festival Ballet Theatre (FBT) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1988 by Salwa Rizkalla. Its mission is to enrich Orange County’s artistic and economic vitality, to inspire love and appreciation for dance and to invigorate ballet by:

Presenting a season of exhilarating classical and contemporary performances

Providing a nurturing environment for dancers and choreographers

Offering stimulating educational outreach

FBT’s The Nutcracker has graced the Irvine Barclay Theatre stage since 2007, and showcases local young talent alongside some of ballet’s biggest stars.

Southland Ballet Academy, founded 1983, is the home school of Festival Ballet Theatre. Named one of the top seven producing schools in the nation by Pointe magazine, Southland Ballet Academy provides elite ballet training in a creative and nurturing environment. Southland Ballet Academy graduates have gone on to dance professionally in renowned ballet companies across the globe. Arts Orange County named Festival Ballet Theatre Outstanding Arts Organization of the Year in 2001, and also recognized artistic director Salwa Rizkalla with the Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy Award in 2014.

Nutcracker Fun Facts!

Nutcracker Fun Facts!

Nutcrackers 143 in a lot of German folktales because it is believed that they bring good luck and protection. Many children are given nutcrackers at Christmastime for this reason. To make on nutcracker can take up to four years and 130 different steps.

---Kelly Zuercher is a keyboardist with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, and in this video, demonstrates the magical sounds of the celesta. The celesta is one of the featured instruments in Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker.

The Celesta

The beautiful twinkling you hear in "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" is played by an instrument called the celesta. Celestas look similar to pianos but instead of having strings they have steel plates. When a celesta key is pressed, small hammers strike the steel plates creating a very unique sound.


Portrait by Nikolai Dimitriyevich Kuznetsov, 1893

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

The Nutcracker is one of the most popular pieces of classical music and is performed by ballet companies all over the world. The composer of the piece, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, did not think it was his best ballet and actually felt his music for Sleeping Beauty (another ballet) was much better!

Photo taken by an unknown photographer at the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Peterbsurg, Russia of the dancers Stanislava Belinskaya, Lydia Rubtsova, & Vassily Stukolkin in "The Nutcracker", 1892.


During the first performance of The Nutcracker, the roles of Clara and the Nutcracker Prince were danced by children. In later professional productions, these roles were sometimes given to adults. Some ballet companies still choose to feature young dancers as Clara.