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December Brings Holiday Shows to Waco

It’s that time of the year once again: December officially marks the beginning of the Christmas season. Though the decorations seemingly pop up earlier (and earlier!) each year—we’re looking at you, HEB—it’s impossible to deny that, yes indeed, the holidays are here. In the spirit of the season, this month has performances by the Waco Symphony Orchestra, Waco Civic Theatre, Brazos Theatre, and other groups. 

For many people, The Nutcracker ballet is a standout holiday experience. This year marks its twelfth annual performance by the Waco Symphony Orchestra, and much anticipation surrounds their collaboration with Ballet Frontier, a highly talented ballet company from Fort Worth. Everyone attending this (now sold-out) event is in for an enchanting afternoon on Sunday, December 11, as the music of Tchaikovsky returns to Waco Hall.

(If you didn’t snag your Nutcracker tickets in time, however, you have multiple other holiday shows to choose from.)

An Icy Wonderland in the Heart of Texas

Waco Symphony Orchestra’s performance of The Nutcracker is a quintessential holiday event. Each year’s show is a collaboration with talented dancers and composers from around Texas to bring to life the fantasy wonderland of this legendary ballet.

This year includes a cast of about forty ballet dancers from Fort Worth’s Ballet Frontier and a group of sixty children from the Waco area. The Nutcracker takes audiences on a journey to a magical world through the eyes of Clara, the story’s young heroine. Pulling audiences in is no easy feat but is accomplished through the live direction during the show.

Waco Symphony Association Executive Director Carolyn Bess explained, This year’s performance is conducted by Clay Couturiaux, music director of the Richardson Symphony Orchestra. He has the challenging task of conducting the orchestra in the pit while keeping track of the dancers’ movements and tempo on stage.”

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The Nutcracker debuted in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theater in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Not an instant success upon its premiere, it rose in popularity in 1950s America as audiences were captivated by its energetic and Christmas-themed story. The Waco Symphony Orchestra and Ballet Frontier continue that legacy by bringing the majestic score, the entrancing movements of those on stage, and the gladdening spirit it imparts to Waco.

This display of care and talent is a point of pride for both Bess and Enrica Tseng, Ballet Frontier’s artistic advisor. Bess stated that they can’t wait for this year’s audience to see “… the Snow Pas de Deux… the famous Waltz of the Flowers, and Grand Pas de Deux showcasing the Sugar Plum and [the] Cavalier.”

Bess fondly remembers seeing the Houston Ballet and Houston Orchestra perform it throughout her childhood.

She explained, “My aunt played clarinet in the orchestra. It was always a magical performance for me, and it became a treasured and eagerly anticipated holiday tradition for my family every year.”

As an adult, Bess has years of experience as director of a literary and performing arts series at the Dallas Museum of Art. And less than two years ago, she returned to her hometown of Waco to be a part of the Waco Symphony Association.

Beyond the entertainment, one of the greatest parts of local holiday events like this is the good created for the community. And such is the opportunity at this year’s Nutcracker performance. As a final word, Bess had this message for those planning to attend: “This year, to foster a spirit of giving, we’re inviting our audiences to bring a new or gently used jacket for a child (age 6+) or adult (all sizes), gloves, socks, or scarves to the performance at Waco Hall. We’re partnering with Mission Waco and Caritas to distribute these items to children and adults in our community who need them, hopefully making their holidays warmer and brighter.”

There’s Snow Place Like Home…

Other upcoming holiday shows in Waco include:

Wild Imaginings Christmas Party Concert

  • Cultivate 7twelve
  • December 10, 7 pm, and December 11, 3 pm

Youth Chorus of Central Texas Holiday Concert

  • St. Alban’s Episcopal Church
  • December 12, 6 pm

Edwards Twins Ultimate Christmas Variety Show

  • Waco Hippodrome Theatre
  • December 15, 7 pm

A Country Christmas with Holly Tucker

  • American Legion Post 121 (Elm Mott)
  • December 16, 8 pm

The Most Wonderful Show of the Year

  • Waco Civic Theatre
  • December 15–17, 7 pm, and December 17–18, 2 pm

A Christmas Carol Live Radio Show

  • Brazos Theatre
  • December 16–17, 7:30 pm

Check out even more holiday events at the Waco Insider monthly events calendar.

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Jonathan Kinder is a graduate of Baylor University's Professional Writing and Rhetoric program and hopes to shed light on Waco's burgeoning cultural scene. He has an insatiable drive to understand the creative process and is enthralled by the passion many have to create art.

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