Every holiday season, despite their packed schedules, a group of SF Ballet dancers members make time to visit the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Their goal? To bring a taste of Nutcracker to young patients who otherwise would not be able to see the production.
To give patients a sense of the production, Company members perform an abridged version in costume, narrated by Principal Dancer Sarah Van Patten. Each dancer performs a sampling of several variations from the beloved holiday classic.
Without fail, the mini-performance delights the audience each year, bringing a bit of holiday joy to the children in attendance. The young patients and their families receive memorabilia from the mini-Nutcracker cast and spend time talking with Company members. “[I’m] so excited and happy to put a smile on these kids’ faces,” says dancer Thamires Chuvas. “I’m glad that we’re able to bring the Nutcracker to their bedside.”
Van Patten began organizing these hospital visits in 2008, taking over the responsibility from a former Company member. Since then, she has continued the tradition every December. “The holidays are a perfect time to give back to the community,” she says, “and I am thrilled to bring a little joy into these kids’ lives by organizing this annual visit. I wouldn’t miss it!”
Header image: SF Ballet Dancers Samantha Bristow and Jacob Seltzer visit patients at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco // © Jessica Bernstein-Wax/UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals