M'Lanie Hunter Dance to perform Nutcracker Ballet Dec. 8 and 9

Dancers perform during dress rehearsal of the Pioneer Valley Ballet's production of the Nutcracker at the Academy of Music in Northampton

Dancers perform during dress rehearsal of the Pioneer Valley Ballet's production of the Nutcracker at the Academy of Music in Northampton

The Dance Arts Theatre is presenting "The Nutcracker" for the 26th year at ECU's Wright Auditorium this weekend. Some of the dancers began as children, performing as mice and have advanced to lead roles as they've gotten older. Behind the scenes, the production has a huge crew, Trueblood said.

This year, the performances will benefit the Red Cross. "They either split up or they're anxious about disruption", she said. "It is about kids helping kids and it is an unforgettable experience for all ages". This is Givan's final year.

M'Lanie Hunter Dance offers a variety of dance, acting and singing classes to children from three years and up, plus dance and exercise classes for adults. Refreshments are served by dancers. About 1,500 people typically show up for the performance, and it usually sells out. "For them, every year is unique, every year is special".

Bartner dances with NECB/Northeast Dance Center, which is performing the Nutcracker at the Methuen Performing Arts Center at Methuen High School on December 16 and 17. Parking is available in front of the high school building. Tickets: $8 at the door or advance at Burst's sweets.

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"An Evening with the Nutcracker" is a balletic and dramatic performance that follows the classic story of Clara's rollicking Christmas adventure through the snow forest and the land of candies in an attempt to save the nutcracker from the mouse king. This battle usually gets laughs from fellow dancers. Megan Dickinson, formerly with Pennsylvania Ballet, will perform the role of Sugar Plum Fairy; Richard Villaverde, from BalletX in Philadelphia, Penn., will perform the role of Nutcracker Prince; and John Frazer, a dancer with Ballet Idaho, will perform the role of Herr Drosselmeyer.

Why you should go: "There are so many different "Nutcracker" performances that entertained countless families each holiday season for years around the world. Christopher'swork has found fresh meaning at the heart of The Nutcracker story and I am honored to delight Chicago audiences once again with this magical production".

Showtimes are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

The Joffrey Ballet gratefully acknowledges the generous support of 2017 The Nutcracker Production Sponsor Jewell Events Catering.

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