The Gentle Nutcracker

Boulder Ballet and the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra have come together to invite you to our first Sensory Friendly, Gentle Nutcracker. We recognize that families like yours — who live with different abilities — feel they cannot attend the Nutcracker — a beloved time-honored tradition in Boulder County. This is a collaborative effort to promote a welcoming environment, access to the professional arts, and build community. Our overall goal is to make sure no one feels left out, judged or mistreated. We aim to bring the arts to those who are uncomfortable in a typical performance setting.

“Families with members who are differently abled often shy away from performances such asThe Nutcracker – missing the magic of live ballet and orchestral music. The Boulder Ballet and the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra have collaborated in putting together a very special sensory production, called the Gentle Nutcracker, which will be performed at the beautiful Macky Auditorium Concert Hall, located on the CU campus. What an amazing gift for the Boulder community and Colorado’s front range!”
~ Frances Owens, Former First Lady of Colorado

Wednesday, November 23 @ 2:00pm
Macky Auditorium, CU Boulder
1595 Pleasant St, Boulder, CO 80309

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the logistics for the show?

The doors to the auditorium will open at 1:15pm, and the show will begin promptly at 2pm. This is a modified version of The Nutcracker and run time is approximately 45 minutes. There will not be an intermission.

Are there visual aids such as maps, social narratives, or pictures available to help us prepare for this experience?

Yes. Featured on our website is a video that will take you from the Macky parking lot, to the lobby, into the gallery, and through to the auditorium where the performance will take place. There is also a video showing the path from the auditorium to the unisex bathrooms, as well as to the quiet room. Also available is a map of the parking lot and a checklist of everything you can expect to see that day.

What is the parking situation?

There will be paid parking next to Macky Auditorium in Lot 380. Parking attendants from the University of Colorado will be there to guide traffic. There is also accessible parking available. Assistants will be in the parking lot in red aprons to help guide you to the entrance to Macky.

Will there be specified people who will be available for assistance if needed?

Yes, there will be 8 professional assistants and 19 trained assistants. Everyone will have sensitivity training provided by Imagine! Behavioral Services and Dayspring. Professionals will be in the quiet room, the auditorium, the lobby and the gallery. Trained assistants will be positioned in these areas as well to help guide you to the bathrooms, the quiet room and to the professionals if further assistance is needed.

My family member is in a wheelchair and able to transfer into a seat. Is there anyone who will be able to help with the transfer?

Yes, there will be a certified EMT in the auditorium to assist with any and all transfers.

My family member is in a wheelchair and unable to transfer into a seat. Are there designated wheelchair areas?

Macky has 7 designated wheelchair seats throughout the auditorium. When buying tickets, please be sure to advise the box office of your needs so we do not oversell our wheelchair accessible seats.

Most auditoriums have balconies. Will these be open during the performance?

No, all access to the balconies will be closed and monitored for safety.

I’m very excited there will be a large orchestra, however I know that musicians are usually placed under the stage. Will there be a barrier or ushers blocking the orchestra pit?

Yes. For safety reasons the first two rows of seats will be blocked off and assistants will be guarding the area to keep everyone at a safe distance from the deep drop into the orchestra pit.

Will we be able to move about during the performance?

We understand that many children, teens, or adults attending may not be able to sit in a chair or remain quiet for the entire performance. Involuntary movements and noises are welcomed. It is OK to try out another seat, or to leave the auditorium at any time during the performance. However, the center aisles must remain clear for safety reasons.

When my child gets excited, he or she may start running. Is there anyone who will be able to help if my child tries to run off?

We understand safety is a concern, and the ushers at the doors will make sure no child leaves the auditorium without parental supervision.

Will the house lights be all the way down like a typical performance?

Auditorium lighting will be dimmed but not dark, for sensory and safety issues. Sounds will be adjusted for comfort.

Would it be possible to bring a fidget toy?

Please feel free to bring items your child or family member needs to hold for comfort and stimulation, such as stuffies or therapy toys, into the auditorium. No electronics please.

Will there be a designated area where my family member with different abilities can go if they get over-stimulated?

Yes, there will be a quiet room available where anyone is welcome to go if they need a break.

We would love to meet the dancers after the show. Will this be possible?

Yes! Our dancers are very excited about this performance and several of them will come out in costume after the show to greet interested audience members.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Julie Hartman from the Association for Community Living at