Cincinnati Ballet Partners with CCHMC’s LEND Team to offer a Sensory-Friendly Nutcracker Performance

Sometimes children with sensory sensitivities miss out on events like ballets and plays where noises and lights can be overwhelming. The Cincinnati Ballet wants to change that, and make the magic of The Nutcracker available to everyone. On December 22, for the first time in its history, the Cincinnati Ballet is offering a special sensory-friendly performance of The Nutcracker for families of individuals with sensory sensitivities.

What will make this performance sensory-friendly? The lights will remain at half brightness throughout the performance, theater doors will remain open, audience members will be allowed to come and go as they need, electronic devices will be allowed in the theater, and designated quiet areas will be available in the lobby.

The Cincinnati LEND team (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities) worked with the Cincinnati Ballet on this very special event. “We are honored to be involved with the Cincinnati Ballet. Their Director of Education and Outreach, Julie Sunderland, reached out to us since she heard about the work our team has done with the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to familiarize children on the Autism Spectrum with the airport and travel procedures,” said Dr. Jen Smith, Director of the LEND program.

The team is applying some of the same concepts to the ballet environment, in hopes that families will be comfortable and enjoy the ballet experience. Visual supports have been developed and made available for families to download for free at Cincinnati Ballet’s website,, so attendees know what to expect when they attend the performance. The LEND team has provided additional training to Cincinnati Ballet staff and dancers, Aronoff staff, and all volunteers, to ensure everyone is ready for the big day. Members of the LEND team will also be in attendance at the performance to provide support as needed.

“The Nutcracker is such a long-standing holiday tradition in Cincinnati. Everyone should be able to experience it, no matter what their special needs might be. All we need to make this possible is a little preparation and education,” said Dr. Smith.

Tickets can be purchased through the Cincinnati Ballet box office at 513.621.5282 or online at

Image:  Nutcracker, by Allan, Some Rights Reserved

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