Smaller 'Sugarplum' stands in for 'Nutcracker Ballet' this month

Stephens Auditorium will host "Sugarplum Celebration," a holiday ballet featuring dancers from the Ames-based Iowa Youth Ballet (IYB), on Sunday, Dec. 13. Two shows, at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., also will be livestreamed due to capacity guidelines for the auditorium. The show features 19 holiday-themed dance pieces by 11 choreographers performed by approximately 85 dancers. 

Tickets are $13 in advance and $15 day of show (if seats still are available). Livestream prices are $13 for an individual stream and $23 for a group stream.

The Iowa State Center's 40th annual "Nutcracker Ballet" production was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a decision that impacted hundreds of children who participate in it. "Sugarplum Celebration" replaces "Nutcracker Ballet" this winter.

"With the uncertainty of the pandemic and the desire to honor the 40th year of the Nutcracker properly, we canceled this long-running holiday event in September," said Tammy Koolbeck, Stephens Auditorium executive director. "Shortly after, we began working with Iowa Youth Ballet on an alternative holiday ballet that would work within our venue's COVID-19 guidelines for backstage and front of house.

"We are pleased that the months of planning will allow our community's young dancers to perform this shortened ballet program," Koolbeck said.

IYB was created as a nonprofit dance company in 2001, led by executive director Robert Thomas and artistic director Miyoko Kato Thomas, who also serve as artistic directors of the "Nutcracker Ballet." It provides aspiring young dancers the opportunity to study ballet in a professional-like environment.