It's the first ballet almost every kid in America sees, and the first one almost every American dancer performs in. Various versions of it draw audiences to theaters and performing arts halls around the country every year.
And it can still be a thrill to see and to listen to, thanks to its classic story, its lovely dance and its stirring music.
In Bradenton, one of the most popular stagings of "The Nutcracker" is the one performed by the Dance Theatre of Bradenton under artistic director Allison Norton. This year's performances are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at Manatee High School.
"The Nutcracker" dates back to the 19th century, but it was a flop at first. Even though the music and the original choreography were Russian, the popularity of "The Nutcracker" is mostly confined to the United States, where it became popular starting in the 1950s. Audiences here get their choice of dozens of local and touring productions every year, but it's not often performed in other countries.
The glorious music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is universally beloved, though. Almost all the music, especially the pieces that make up the 20-minute "Nutcracker Suite" that's often performed in concert, is among the most widely known classical music ever written
Details: Dec. 12-13, Davis Theater at Manatee High School, 902 33rd Court W., Bradenton. Show times: 7:30 Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $25 adults, $13 children 13 and under. Information: 941-345-9715, dancetheatreofbradenton.org.
-- Marty Clear