GR Ballet Partners with Chris Van Allsburg to Reinvent The Nutcracker

The Grand Rapids Ballet announced a collaboration that will bring West Michigan a reimagined version of The Nutcracker. The classic production will be transformed as a result of a national collaboration featuring a trio of talents: Grand Rapids native Chris Van Allsburg, one of America’s most innovative picture book creators, Eugene Lee, Tony Award-winning set designer and Val Caniparoli, distinguished choreographer.

The Nutcracker will debut this December under the direction of Grand Rapids Ballet Artistic Director, Patricia Barker, will feature the creative vision of Chris Van Allsburg, renowned author of The Polar Express, Zathura and Jumanji. The imaginative work of Van Allsburg will be constructed by set designer Eugene Lee, Tony Award winner (for set design) of Bernstein’s Candide, Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd and Wicked. Lee is also the production designer for NBC’s Saturday Night Live and recently completed the new set for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.  Bringing the beloved characters to life through dance will be distinguished choreographer Val Caniparoli, whose work includes productions for ballet, opera and theater for more than 35 companies across the world. 

The Nutcracker will debut at the Premiere Gala on Thursday, December 11 at DeVos Performance Hall, which will be the very first opportunity to experience the reimagined beloved holiday classic. The event will be co-hosted along with Hospice of Michigan and serve as a significant fundraiser for Grand Rapids Ballet and Hospice of Michigan’s Pediatric Hospice Program, featuring a formal dinner, premiere performance of The Nutcracker, and an afterglow reception. The production will open to the public at DeVos Performance Hall just in time for the holiday season, with show dates: December 12-14 and 19-21.

Hospice of Michigan is a nationally recognized leader in end-of-life care. The non-profit cares for more than 1,400 patients each day in 56 counties across Michigan, raising more than $4 million each year to cover the cost of care for the uninsured and underinsured.  Hospice of Michigan offers a broad range of services to enhance the quality of life at the end of life alsong with grief support and counseling, caregiver education and support, and education programs for physicians and healthcare professionals.

For more information on The Nutcracker Production or the Grand Rapids Ballet, visit

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