Transforming Tradition: “The Sea Island Nutcracker”

Like it or not, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Halloween may be barely behind us, and we are only beginning to plan for Thanksgiving, but Christmas is undeniably in the forefront of our minds. With Christmas comes cherished traditions old and new, and this year, Orcas Island is ready to infuse creativity and individuality into one of the most classic Christmas traditions: “The Nutcracker.”

Stephanie Moss, among other members of the Orcas Island Dance Collective, created “The SeaIsland Nutcracker,” an innovative take on Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet. Some traditional roles are given fresh identities, choreography reimagined, and new costumes conceptualized. For instance, the Sugar Plum Fairy is transformed into the Sea Star Fairy, the enchanting waltz of the flowers is performed as sea kelp, and the angels take on the role of bioluminescence.

This rendition not only allows for personal creativity to shine and our island community to be represented onstage, but also helps re-contextualize the potentially stereotypical portrayal of various cultures in the second act’s “Kingdom of Sweets.” Traditionally, this act associates each sweet with a country or region, such as Arabian coffee, German marzipan, and, most controversially, Chinese tea.

In recent years, many companies have been reworking how they portray these cultures in their renditions of “The Nutcracker,” and Moss and her team have done an excellent job at creating a rendition that is not only unique and diverse but also deeply respectful and accepting.

In a world where tradition and innovation often intersect, “The Sea Island Nutcracker” stands as a testament to the power of art to celebrate individuality, foster community, and embrace the spirit of the holiday season. “The Sea Island Nutcracker” promises to be a treat for all ages, with performances scheduled for Dec. 8, 9, 15, and 16 at 6 p.m., and two Sunday matinee performances on Dec. 10 and 17 at 2 p.m. Visit to learn more.