WINNIPEG -- The Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) announced on Sept. 28 that it has decided to cancel this year’s production of ‘Nutcracker.’

In a statement, the RWB said it was hopeful it would be able to perform the holiday tradition this coming December, but said a production the size of ‘Nutcracker’ could not be safely achieved amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The safety of everyone is our primary focus and when considering a production the size of Nutcracker, involving hundreds of dancers, crew and support staff, it could not be achieved,” said artistic director and CEO Andre Lewis in the statement.

“We are shifting our focus and inspiration to creations and performances we can deliver with the least possible risk to our artists and audiences.”

The ballet said it’s committed to teaching, creating, and performing dance and it has plans in place for upcoming performances that will be safe for both dancers and patrons.

The RWB said details of these performances are coming soon, but they will start in mid-November and involve new creations and revival pieces. All of these performances will take place at the RWB Founders’ Studio located on Graham Avenue.

“Although our return to the stage this calendar year will look a little different, the RWB was built by Winnipeggers who believe in us,” said associate artistic director Tara Birtwhistle in a statement.

“We are a creation of the prairies; we must dance, and we ask that you continue to believe in us through these challenging times.”

For now, RWB ballet dancers will return to rehearsals in a limited capacity, which means for short periods and dancing in cohorts, while maintaining physical distancing and wearing a mask.

The ballet said it is still hopeful that its remaining performances of the 81st season will go ahead as scheduled.