American Academy of Ballet


Celebrating Our 53rd Year of Dance!

The American Academy of Ballet, under the direction of Maris Battaglia, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. More than 147 students have gone on to achieve prominent careers across the States, Canada and Europe in dance companies, television and the Broadway stage. We are proud to continue that tradition throughout the many years to come! The Academy's success and continued philosophy over the years is that "love and discipline can work together in a warm and caring atmosphere to provide positive experiences that will last a lifetime."

Princess Camp

Important Dates:

"About" tab (above) and click on "Important Dates"

About The Nutcracker

The magic of the holiday season begins with the Nutcracker. Come celebrate a very special performance of the holiday classic with the American Academy Nutcracker. This production has become a Western New York favorite, selling out performances at UB Center for the Arts. Now in its 22nd year, it is Buffalo's longest running production of "The Nutcracker." The charm of this production is its child friendly approach. Choreographed to delight children of all ages, there are surprises tucked into every scene.

Clara & Fritz Arabian Clara

This production has scene after scene of color and magic. In China, a giant dragon takes center stage. In Holland, a 6 foot butterfly flies above the sleeping flowers. At the North Pole, Santa's elves are busy putting finishing touches on holiday toys. The Snow Scene takes place in Central Park with an actual skating park.


A highlight of the Academy's Nutcracker is a visit that Clara and her Prince take to exciting lands each year. They travel around the world in a hot air balloon, sponsored by Flying by Foy, returning year after year to fly Herr Drosselmeyer and the Butterfly as well.

Clara & Tulips Jester Snowflakes

Misa Kuranaga, principal dancer with Boston Ballet, and Daniel Ulbricht, principal dancer with New York City Ballet, will perform the lead roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.

Daniel & Misa

Performances take place at UB Center for the Arts in the first weekend of December. Come early and be sure to visit the Victorian Village set up in the Atrium with many boutiques and live holiday music. Children can visit Mrs. Claus who will be reading holiday stories.

Sugar Plums

"The American Academy of Ballet takes the audience into Tchaikovsky's imagination. This Nutcracker offers the best of what ballet is meant to provide: holiday tradition, whimsical abandon... an exquisite and disciplined company... a beautiful ballet." - The Buffalo News


2015 Review from the Buffalo News

2015 Nutcracker Review From the Buffalo News

2014 Review from the Buffalo News

As a result of another amazing year of the Nutcracker production, the Buffalo News delivered a rave review of the performance which can be viewed below.

I first saw "The Nutcracker" performed live more than 30 years ago, and my hazy recollection of that elementary school auditorium performance could be summarized in two words - creepy mice.
Suffice it to say, a lot has changed in three decades, chiefly my appreciation for one of the greatest holiday tales of all time.
The American Academy of Ballet brings its version of "The Nutcracker" to the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts this weekend, and those who bypassed holiday shopping for a few hours were treated to a magical afternoon of dance.
By now, you know the story: a Christmas Eve long ago, a family celebrating the trimming of the tree, and then young Clara (Emily Fretz) is given a nutcracker and drifts off to sleep before taking the audience on a magical adventure in her imagination.
There is so much to love about "The Nutcracker," and about this version in particular. Award-winning dancer Misa Kuranaga is absolutely breathtaking as the Sugar Plum Fairy. For every little girl in the audience with a burning desire to one day become a ballerina, Kuranaga fans the flames with a performance that is absolutely mesmerizing.
Joining her to headline the talented cast is New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Daniel Ulbricht (the Mouse King and Cavalier). Together, the two close out the show with a series of dances, both together and solo, that on Saturday drew a thunderous applause from the full house. The power and precision with which they both dance is matched only by the grace with which they effortlessly glide across the stage - the crowd hanging on their every pirouette.
But lets not rush things; the beauty of this story begins back in the living room of the Stahlbaum family.
Director Maris Battaglia has her hands full. She is charged with bringing together dancers from a half-dozen local studios, blending them with the immensely talented students of the American Academy of Ballet, and dropping in the star power of Kuranaga and Ulbricht. It could be a recipe for chaos or one for brilliance onstage, and under Battaglia's tutelage, the latter is the case.
Act 1 is made unforgettable thanks, in part, to the famed snowflake dance. There is something amazing about two-dozen dancers in white, snow drifting down from the rafters, dancing to hauntingly powerful, timeless music. Kudos as well to Philip Wackerfuss, who offers a nice turn as the sinisterly spooky Herr Drosselmeyer.
But Act 2 is where this production really finds its legs and soars. Opening to heavenly angels, the audience is treated to perhaps the best example of the three strengths of this performance - a beautifully intricate set, gorgeous costumes and, of course, a talented troupe of dancers.
As the slumbering Clara takes us on a world tour, with stops in Holland, China, Spain and France, each dancer seems determined to outshine those who came before, an increasingly difficult task given the talent on stage.
The scene that takes the cake - or better yet, the candy cane - is a visit to Santa's workshop at the North Pole. You'll love watching the smiles on their faces and the spring in their steps as these young and dancers let loose with a high-energy, whimsical performance, set to a jazz-infused version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."
Living in an age of 24-hour technology and nonstop communication, in a world where the average person speaks between 7,000 and 20,000 words per day, you might be hesitant to take your little ones to a show in which actions - not words - tell the story. Don't be.
"The Nutcracker" will leave them in awe from the opening scene until Clara awakens from her magical journey through dreamland.

American Academy of Ballet