Time to Dance, Sugar Plum!: ‘Tis the season for holiday dance to hit the stage

Photo Credit: Meri Keller

Whether it’s a vicarious urge to keep ourselves warm, or because something about graceful movement conjures associations with the holiday season, or just because “Happy Holidays” makes you feel like dancing — or at least like watching others dance — this is the dance season. Here’s some of what’s coming up:

Island Moving Company has their exciting mansion-based retelling of the classic Nutcracker story. “Characters move the audience from one room to another in the magnificent spaces within Briarcliff Mansion,” says marketing director Shauna Maguire.“This show sells out. The mansion is beyond belief.” Find Clara and friends at 548 Bellvue, Newport. It runs at various times and dates between Nov 27 and Dec 6,

The State Ballet of Rhode Island weighs in with Coppelia. This marks SBRI’s 60th year, and they’ve been bringing interpretations of Coppelia to RI since 1969, through four generations of Marsdens (82-year-old artistic director and founder Herci Marsden is still ruling the roost, with the help of her daughter, granddaughters and great-granddaughters). “We’re especially excited about the leading dancers who we have this season: They’re amazing,” says Ana Marsden Fox of performers Sarah Hamel and Devin Larser. “People tell us it’s become their tradition. We have some audience members coming for a second or even third generation,” Marsden Fox explains. This will be the fourth time the tale in which dolls come to life (a common problem in the holiday dance universe) takes the stage at Cranston’s Park Theatre, 848 Park Ave. It’s on Dec 6 and 7.


Providence’s Festival Ballet brings their annual traditional Nutcracker performance to PPAC. Between the location and the storied, esteemed history of the company, expect an opulent experience. On Sunday, December 15, kids can also enjoy brunch tea with Clara at Bravo Brasserie on Empire St before the show. Runs Dec 13 thru 15 this year, with Clara’s Tea on Dec 15.

Providence Ballet Theater has their annual holiday entrant, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, taking place in the Nazarian Center at RIC, 600 Mount Pleasant Ave, on Sat, Dec 20, at 4:30 and 7pm.

In New Bedford, New Bedford Ballet will be presenting The Nutcracker with a whaling city twist — dancers will include sailors and Native Americans, and one of the guests at Clara’s house will be author Herman Melville. We can’t wait to see the harpoon dance! Dec 7 thru 15 at the NBB Community Theatre, 2343 Purchase St, New Bedford, Mass.

On the collegian circuit, Brown, RIC and PC will be twinkling their toes this season. 

Brown has 15 different pieces spanning a wide variety of genres. About half are new student work, and they will include step, hip-hop, classical ballet and a smattering of other genres. “We’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of dance [as a formal program] at Brown,” says Brianne Shaw, marketing coordinator at Brown University. “Specifically this year, we’re not only featuring new work by current students, but we’re also featuring alumni work and classical work to celebrate that anniversary. Julie Strandberg, who founded the dance program, is still with us and is producing this show.” Find them at the Ashamu Dance Studio in the basement of 83 Waterman St, PVD. Thu – Fri, Nov 21 -22.

PC has its seasonal Blackfriars dance performance. Wendy Oliver of PC says, “We’ll have guest choreographers from around the area. We have Jean Appolon, who’s doing a modern dance piece with a strong Haitian influence. We also have three contemporary choreographers, Danielle Davidson, who teaches [at PC], Gisela Creus, from Spain, and then Orlando Hernandez choreographed a modern tap piece and is also doing a tap solo. And Cayley Christoforou, who lives in Salem.” Oliver is also choreographing a piece of modern dance with a political theme, called “Debate.” That’s at Angell Blackfriars Theatre, Smith Center for the Arts, Eaton St, PVD, at 7pm Fri, Nov 15 and 2:30 Sat, Nov 16.

RIC will present End It!, an exploration of human trafficking in modern society through dance. Think of it as counter-programming if you’ve had too many damn sugar plums in your dance diet. That takes place at RIC’s Forman Theater, in the Nazarian Center, 600 Mt Pleasant Ave, PVD at 7:30pm on Fri Dec 6 and Sat, Dec 7.