Everyone loves The Nutcracker. But for special-needs individuals and their families, attending a performance of the ballet can be a challenge—all that Tchaikovsky, performed live by a full orchestra; all the confusion of dealing with crowds; all those dancing mice. On December 7, for the second year in a row, Colorado’s Longmont Symphony Orchestra and the Boulder Ballet presented The Gentle Nutcracker, a sensory-friendly, one-hour version of the ballet tailored for neuro-diverse audiences. Accommodations included leaving the house lights on at 35 percent, having professional support available, creating a designated quiet area, and accepting noise and movement by patrons. The two organizations also presented full performances of The Nutcracker that same December weekend. Longmont Symphony Music Director Elliott Moore commented, “I have spoken with parents of neuro-diverse children who express to me how petrified they are of taking their children to live performances. Sadly for them, the most common solution is to simply forgo attending live events. While our Gentle Nutcracker is for a neuro-diverse audience, it is also a performance that is designed to allow families to be just that: families!”


Caption: Promotional material for the Longmont Symphony Orchestra and Boulder Ballet’s sensory-friendly production of The Gentle Nutcracker. Photo courtesy of Boulder Ballet.