Image courtesy of Ventana Ballet.

Ventana Ballet sparks the holiday magic for the 5th year with The Watchmaker’s Song, an interactive re-imagining of the story of The Nutcracker

Nov 24, 2022

For the fifth consecutive year, Ventana Ballet and Red Nightfall Productions present The Watchmaker’s Song, an immersive and whimsical twist on the holiday classic, The Nutcracker, December 8-10 at 7:30pm each night, and December 15-17 at 6:30pm & 8:30pm each night. The company will also present an interactive matinee showing for the kids on December 11 at 12:30pm & 2:30pm, at the Neill-Cochran House Museum. 

“To be so close to something you know so well from afar is to see it anew,” Robert Faires wrote of the 2019 production for The Austin Chronicle. “It is magical, and in a way, that is all this show’s own.”

 Upon entering the cozy, festoon-lit courtyard of the Neill-Cochran House Museum, guests can grab a seasonal cocktail and immerse themselves in this enchanted holiday tale. A mysterious character, The Watchmaker himself, emerges from the crowd and invites the attendees to embark on a journey with him down the brick-laden path surrounding the shaded oak property of the 19th century home. 

“The Watchmaker’s Song presents many different styles of dance—not just classical ballet. Since its first year in 2018, the mission of this production has been to nurture and grow the vibrant culture of Austin, giving performing artists of diverse backgrounds and cultural traditions a platform to share their brilliance, joy, and dedication to their craft,” said Dorothy O’Shea Overbey, Director of Red Nightfall Productions and the Artistic Director and Choreographer of The Watchmaker’s Song. 

“In 2020, we wanted to keep the holiday magic alive, so we converted the production to a drive-in performance atop a parking garage in downtown Austin. This performance is so important to us all—performers and guests, alike,” explained AJ Garcia-Rameau, Director of Ventana Ballet and the Executive Director and Producer of The Watchmaker’s Song. 

Just around the corner from the courtyard, the party dancers invite the guests to join in a holiday swing-dancing party set to Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s jazz rendition of the original Tchaikovsky Nutcracker music. Guests enjoy a holiday party and pop-up performances on the front lawn, meeting some charming characters, who then invite the party-goers to experience more of the magic inside the historical house. Indoors, each room of the house features live installations of cultural music and dance: Spanish Flamenco, Argentinian Tango, Indian Bollywood Dance, Egyptian Bellydance, Traditional Chinese Dance, and of course, a fabulous appearance by Mother Ginger herself. 

“Indoors is where the audience discovers a world of dance. Instead of The Nutcracker’s dances inspired by different cultures, here are actual dances from different cultures, performed by local residents who really know them,” wrote Faires in the same 2019 Chronicle review. “The setup allows the audience to make intimate connections with these cultural dances and their dancers—something one couldn’t do with a traditional Nutcracker.” 

The Watchmaker’s Song is a whimsical version of the Nutcracker holiday favorite that engages the audience in both the traditional components of the Nutcracker Ballet and also some elements of the original story by E.T.A. Hoffman. The event culminates with a special finale of ethereal characters in the grand room before the audience exits the House, returning to the real world. Faires wrote, “Granted, it’s a long way from battling evil mice under the Christmas tree and taking a magic sleigh to the Land of Snow, but threaded throughout all this updated fun—and it is fun—are nods to the original ballet.” 

Choose from eleven uniquely different shows: December 8, 9, 10 at 7:30pm each night (Doors & VIP Reception begin at 7pm) December 11 at 12pm & 2pm (Kids’ Interactive Show) December 15, 16, 17 at 6:30pm & 8:30pm each night (Doors & VIP Reception begin at 6pm & 8pm) 

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Press release provided courtesy of Ventana Ballet.

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