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Ballet Theatre Company to Hold Sensory-Friendly Performance of ‘The Nutcracker’

Lauren Lovette in The Nutcracker. Photo by Paul Kolnik. Courtesy photo

West Hartford-based Ballet Theatre Company will perform an all-ages, one-day-only, sensory-friendly performance of ‘The Nutcracker’ on Nov. 27.

Spicy Hot Chocolate. Dancers: James Felton & Jo-ann Burke from Ballet Theatre Company. Costume design by Pat Nurnberger. Photo by Thomas Giroir. Courtesy photo

By Brianna Dunlap

Ballet Theatre Company (BTC) is delighted to bring back the cherished holiday ballet, The Nutcracker, to The Bushnell and offer a new sensory-friendly experience to the slate of performances.

“This is the first time our entire family will see the show, and that means more to us than I can say,” stated a West Hartford parent.

New this Year – A Sensory-Friendly Ballet

Everyone deserves the opportunity to experience the positive impact of the arts. Through its programming, BTC strives to reach as many people as possible through dance classes, and provide opportunities for people with diverse sensory and cognitive abilities to enjoy professional ballet performances. To include community members with Autism and sensory sensitivities in theater settings, BTC launched a customized experience so everyone can feel safe, comfortable, and welcome at the ballet.

The Sensory-Friendly Ballet will be a safe and respectful environment beyond what families expect at a typical theatrical ballet performance. This is a great performance for families with young ones, too, with the freedom to move from their seats and exit the theater when necessary.

The Details

For people with sensory sensitivities, the unpredictability of theater experiences can be a challenge, so BTC is working in partnership with The Bushnell’s staff and collaboration from The Miracle League of Connecticut to make the entire performance come to life.

To create a welcoming space during The Sensory-Friendly Nutcracker, resources are available before, during, and after the performance.

In advance of the show, ticket buyers of BTC’s Sensory-Friendly Nutcracker will have the opportunity to “meet their seat” before the performance date. Ticket buyers can even schedule an appointment with The Bushnell’s front-of-house to allow participants to get acclimated to the space upon arrival to the theater on show day, walk through the theater, scan their seats and prepare for a smooth visit.

Further resources include:

  • Social Story – a simple description of the experience of coming to The Bushnell, using the patron as the main character and explaining situations that can be challenging.
  • A link will be sent in your pre-visit email that includes graphics of scheduled activities to help patrons reduce anxiety by following guidelines and providing consistency.
  • Stress stars (fidgets) will be available onsite as a form of calming.
  • Foam earplugs and noise-canceling headphones are available by request onsite. Patrons are welcome to bring their own.
  • Patrons can utilize the coloring tables in the lobby while they wait for the performance to start or if they need a break during the performance.
  • If a patron feels overwhelmed and needs a quiet space, a designated area away from the performance is provided with comfortable furniture, fidgets, coloring, and ear plugs.
  • For patrons who have difficulty verbally communicating, a Core Communication Board with pictures of commonly used nouns and actions is available to help patrons express their needs and wants.
  • To help with the anxiety of waiting, we will have a Choice Board onsite to visually communicate options for activities and a QR Code to a visual timer.

Get Your Tickets

Start a new tradition this year.

The Sensory-Friendly performance of The Nutcracker is on Nov. 27 at 11 a.m. in the Bushnell’s Maxwell M. & Ruth R. Belding Theater. Visit bushnell.org to purchase your tickets or scan the QR Code in the featured picture. Please use the code SENSORY when purchasing online.

Tickets are selling fast, so be sure to secure yours today.

Peppermints. Dancers: Victoria Jaenson & Emily Silva from Ballet Theatre Company. Costume design by Pat Nurnberger. Photo by Thomas Giroir. Courtesy photo

BTC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and is supported in part by the State of Connecticut Office of the Arts, CT Humanities, Ron and Nancy Compton, Maximilian E. and Marion O. Hoffman, The Edward C. & Ann T. Roberts Foundation, The William & Alice Mortensen Foundation, The Ellen Jeanne Goldfarb Memorial Charitable Trust, Ahearn Family Foundation, The John and Kelly Hartman Foundation, Henry Hall Charitable Trust, The Buchalter-Breslow Family, Virtus Investment Partners, Homestead Funding Group, Connecticut Public, Laurel Graphic Design, We-Ha.com, Cricket Press, Jane Owen Public Relations, Sky Investment Group, Sharon Kim’s State Farm, Beam & Barre, and Hearst Media Group.

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