For children, there can be few better initiations into the world of classical ballet than a lavish production of The Nutcracker. But what is most surprising about the audiences that flock each year to see one of the many Nutcracker productions that North Texas has to offer is just how many adults, unaccompanied by children, treat themselves to a performance.

Nutcracker-1 The lavish costumes for the King Rat and Nutcracker used in Texas Ballet Theater's production. courtesy photo

From Dallas to Fort Worth, Richardson to Irving, there is a Nutcracker performance just waiting to transport you and your family into the holiday season with an enormous Christmas tree, toy soldiers battling giant mice, a sugar plum fairy and her nutcracker prince, snow queens and marzipan candies all dancing about in festive delight.

Selecting a Nutcracker performance to attend can be a daunting task. In an attempt to simplify the process we have compiled a general overview of each of the upcoming productions in the 2010 Nutcracker season.

Texas Ballet Theater: Bass Performance Hall and Winspear Opera House

Based in Fort Worth, Texas Ballet Theater's Nutcracker is by far the most professional production of the season. It is so much more than just a lavish spectacle with delights for audiences of all ages and levels of experience. Famed artistic director Ben Stevenson serves up a fresh, lavish, dance-filled feast, infused with unbeatable seasonal charm. Through Dec. 5 at the Winspear Opera House. Dec. 10 - 24 at Bass Performance Hall.

Tuzer Ballet :  Eisemann Center

Based in Richardson, Tanju Tuzer packs a lot of dancing into the first half of the ballet, which is a nice change from productions that spend most of their time plodding through the story. In addition there are wonderful moments of unexpected humor throughout act one. The larger ensemble pieces, kingdom of the snow and waltz of the flowers, are somewhat under choreographed, however. Those weaknesses aside, this is a Nutcracker that leaves you warm and fuzzy, with lots of holiday good cheer. Dec. 18 and 19.

Clara-nutcracker Clara in Texas Ballet Theater's Nutcracker. courtesy photo

Collin County Ballet Theater: Heritage High School and Eisemann Center

Based in Frisco, Collin County Ballet Theater has been presenting The Nutcracker for more than 10 years under the collaborative directorship of Kirt and Linda Hathaway. Unfortunately the story gets a bit of a short shrift in this production, and Kirt Hathaway’s choreography is musically unsatisfying. The Nutcracker ballet is one of the few works in the repertoire that is truly aimed at a children’s audience, but CCBT doesn’t seem to have the magic that grabs the children’s attention. Regrettably, it’s not just the audience that is shortchanged — the cast is too. An upside: Collin County does feature a live orchestra. Dec. 18 at the Heritage High School in Frisco. Dec. 22-23 at the Eisemann Center in Richardson. $15-$75. More info here .

Lake Cities Ballet:  Stuver Auditorium, Lewisville

Lake Cities features lavish costumes, set design, and the rare opportunity to hear a Nutcracker in North Texas that features a live orchestra, the Lewisville Lake Symphony led by Maestro Adron Ming. Special guest artist Julie Kent joins the production from the American Ballet Theatre. Nov. 27-28. More info here

Other Productions

Dallas Repertory Ballet: Eisemann Center. Dec. 10-12. More info here .

Festival Ballet of North Texas: Margo Jones Auditorium at Texas Christian University. Dec. 11-12. More info here.

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