Registration Open for Free Nutcracker Ballet + STEM Performance for K-12 Youth

November 18, 2022, 1:36 pm | Elizabeth Settles Huffman, Sara Nelson

AMES, Iowa – On Friday, Dec. 9, at 12:30 p.m. youth can watch a free mini-performance of the Nutcracker Ballet and independently participate in related STEM challenges. The event will be held in person at Stephens Auditorium on the Iowa State University campus and also livestreamed across Iowa. Registration for the event is required for both the in person and online options; register online with Stephens to reserve your spot.

Nutcracker Ballet + STEM cast from 2021.The performance celebrates the magic of STEAM – which means science, technology, engineering, arts and math. This event will be roughly 45 minutes in length with no intermission. The overall program is designed for elementary aged youth in grades 2-5 but could easily be modified for older or younger youth. All activities work to support a variety of literacy and STEM standards. Related STEM challenges include the mousetrap challenge and costume challenge. A circuit challenge and choreography challenge are coming soon. A free download will be available for all of the STEAM challenges.

"This amazing event is a wonderful way to showcase the joy of the arts and all of the STEM that can be found in the theater,” said Sara Nelson, 4-H STEM program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “We also wanted to highlight the many careers that combine STEM and the arts in innovative and creative ways. We are thrilled to be partnering with Stephens on this special youth performance."

The Nutcracker Ballet tells the story of a young girl, a heroic prince and the fantastic dream they share. Professional dancers Tanya Lynn Trombly and Mauricio Vera will join local Iowa dancers to perform in a Reader’s Theatre style performance. Trombly and Vera will perform the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier, respectively. This is the 41st year of the Nutcracker Ballet on the Iowa State University campus. This mini performance and the annual production feature choreography by Robert Thomas and Miyoko Kato Thomas of the Iowa Youth Ballet.

Along with a collaboration by Stephens Auditorium and ISU Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development, a variety of groups at Iowa State University have been involved, including undergraduate dancers, faculty dancers from various colleges and an undergraduate storyteller from the theatre department. The ISU School of Education, Iowa Space Grant Consortium and the Science Center of Iowa are also key partners.  

For more information on Iowa 4-H Youth Development STEM programming, please contact your ISU Extension and Outreach county office or visit the STEM webpage at

Shareable photo: Nutcracker Ballet + STEM cast from 2021


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