Friends University presents 2019 “Ellington’s Nutcracker” with live jazz band

Wichita, Kan.—The Friends University Ballet Department will once again present the jazz version of a holiday favorite, “Ellington’s Nutcracker.” Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13-14 and Dec. 20-21, and at 2 p.m. Dec. 15 and Dec. 21.

“Ellington’s Nutcracker” will be set to a live jazz band playing The Duke Ellington Orchestra’s composition of the Nutcracker Suite, arranged by Billy Strayhorn with selections from David Berger’s “Harlem Nutcracker” (1996). The latter will be in residency the second week of the performances, offering students and audiences his expertise in Ellington’s work and legacy 20 minutes before the show.

“‘Ellington’s Nutcracker’ will add diversity to the options for audiences and participants for the holiday season. Just as the original score has opened the door to appreciation of European romanticism to countless American children, so exposure to Ellington can do the same for today’s youth in discovering the richness of American jazz,” said choreographer and ballet director, Andrea Vazquez-Aguirre.

Friends students and other dancers from the community will share the stage with four guest performers, chosen for their extraordinary artistry. 

Alicia Mae Holloway, dancer from the Dance Theatre of Harlem in New York City will be performing. 

The first weekend of performances, Dec. 13-15, will feature the return of Jermey J. Edmonson, freelance dancer from New Mexico. Cortney Taylor Key, freelance dancer from New York City will, join him on stage.

We are also happy to welcome back Dandara Amorim Veiga and Lyvan Verdecia from Ballet Hispanico in New York City, sharing their magic for the second weekend of performances, Dec. 20-21. 

Not only will patrons have the opportunity to see these amazing guest artists, but they will also get to take free community dance classes taught by the artists. Last year, participants enjoyed learning about the Brazilian Samba, Contemporary, Latin and Improvisation dancing. Details for these classes will be released soon.

Tickets to “Ellington’s Nutcracker” sold out last year, so those who wish to attend should purchase their tickets early. Ticket prices are $16 for adults and $12 for students and seniors (60+). There will be two free dress rehearsal performances open to high school students and pre-professional dance students on Dec. 12 and Dec. 19.

The performance will take place in Sebits Auditorium in Riney Fine Arts Center on the Friends University campus at 2100 W. University Ave., Wichita, Kan.

For more information on this event or other Fine Arts events, please contact the Fine Arts Box Office at 316-295-5677 or

Friends University, a Christian University of Quaker heritage, equips students to honor God and serve others by integrating their intellectual, spiritual and professional lives.

Nutcracker 2019