This Nutcracker Is for the Dogs

Cherubs bond with Afghan hounds during a rehearsal.

Every year, we hear about some eyebrow-raising twists on the classic holiday ballet, like this video, featuring BMX bikers performing—on bicycles—onstage with the Sugarplum Fairy. There are infinite ways to make your Nutcracker unique!

But the holiday production that stole our heart this year is on the furrier side. In addition to staging their regular Nutcracker this weekend, Birmingham Ballet in Alabama will hold a special Mutt-cracker event tonight. The company rehearsed a separate staging of the ballet that incorporates canine characters wherever possible. Pups appear with guests in the party scene, during Snow, and according to the cast list, Drosselmeyer, Clara, the Nutcracker and even the Mouse King each have their own canine companion. Ticket sales from The Mutt-cracker benefit the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, and hounds auditioned for their roles, so you know they’ll be good. (Don’t miss the video on Facebook of the audition. Some wore tutus for the occasion.) They also have a trainer on hand, waiting backstage to help clean up accidents or correct missed cues. "Dogs are like children," artistic director Cindy Free told Alabama Local News. "They're unpredictable. We prepare them the best we can, and we hope they do it, but if they don't, we improvise.

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