The Nutcracker is a time-tested holiday classic. We all know how Clara gets a wooden soldier — really a nutcracker in disguise — as a gift from her uncle. She and her brother fight over the figure, its arm falls off, and Clara is so upset about the mishap that she can’t sleep and instead creeps downstairs during the night only to be greeted by the Rat King and his army. The Nutcracker turns into a handsome prince and the two are whisked away to a land of sugar and spice and everything nice.

But what if the prince wasn’t so princely? What if he wasn’t Clara’s knight in glossy
paint coming to her rescue? What if the nutcracker himself had been the real villain all along?

Truckee Dance Factory will help you find the answers to such ponderings when their talented crew of dancers takes the stage for five performances of The Twisted Nutcracker and The Tale of The Rat King at Squaw Valley’s Olympic Village Lodge, dubbed this time of year as Merry Wonderland.


The Twisted Nutcracker is a unique retelling of the original story of The Nutcracker but with a twist,” Truckee Dance Factory owner Ryan Curren explained to Moonshine Ink. “It is presented as an alternate history of the events that take place in The Nutcracker ballet … in the tradition of great retellings such as Wicked or The Stinky Cheese Man & Other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales: Facts got mixed up and twisted over the years.”

This high-energy production features fun for the whole family. Truckee Dance
Factory dancers will share the stage with professionals from around the country, featuring performances in a number of dance genres like hip hop, breakdancing, jazz, aerial arts, tap, ballet, and more.

“The idea was written and conceived … as a hip alternative to the traditional Nutcracker,” said Curren, who created the show concept. “As a lover of Christmas and dance, I always wanted a show like The Nutcracker that featured the whole spectrum of dance styles, and this playful version of a Christmas classic was my answer.”

In Curren’s adaptation, the hero is a tapdancing Mouse King (played by David Bortnick) who must recruit an army of other misunderstood Christmas villains to rescue Clara (Jasmine Posada) from a powerful Nutcracker (Riley Moore) before she turns into a doll forever.

Rehearsals for this year’s rendition, which includes several new acts and surprises,
began back in October. “It is our goal to add something new every year to keep it
fresh and yet familiar for those that come every year,” Curren noted.

The production features more than 30 dancers, ranging in age from 11 to 40, many of whom were in the first year’s iteration. Following two years of sold-out shows, The Twisted Nutcracker is returning for its third run with additional performances. That means you now have five chances to see this dancing delight … well, make that four because the Dec. 14 show has already sold out. So don’t wait any longer, get your tickets now.

A preshow reception is available and includes champagne, beer, wine, specialty nonalcoholic beverages, and gourmet holiday hors d’oeuvres. Upgraded guests can get extra cozy by the fire in Merry Wonderland as well as a prime choice of seating for the show.

INFO: doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7 p.m.; prices vary; get tickets at

Main Image Caption: CRACKED UP: The Nutcracker is a holiday staple. But what if the tale were flipped? What if the nutcracker had been the villain all along? Check out Truckee Dance Factory’s The Twisted Nutcracker. Courtesy photo


  • Juliana Demarest

    Juliana Demarest is a Jersey girl with ink in her blood. She fell in love with print journalism at a young age in the '80s when her Uncle Tony would take her to "work" at his weekly paper. In 1997, she co-founded a weekly newspaper in North Jersey. One day, she went to photograph a local farmer for a news story. She ended up marrying him and leaving journalism to become a farmer's wife. In 2010, they packed up their two children and headed to Truckee in pursuit of the outdoor life. She didn't realize just how much she missed journalism until she joined Moonshine in 2018 after taking time off to be mom. Connect with Juliana

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