It's the most `Nutcracker' time of the year

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As Colorado Ballet enters its 52nd year, it again includes a number of area children in the cast of “The Nutcracker” as mice, party children, polichinelles, soldiers, angels and sugarplum attendees.

The music and story become part of another group of families' histories in this performance, as well those of as Littleton's Dance Academy, Ballet Ariel, Ballet Nouveau and other companies. When these young ladies hear that music in future years, they'll probably want to dance.

A sampler here of performances we have heard about.

• Colorado Ballet's production at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, with traditional choreography by Marius Petipa, is the largest, most elaborate and it includes young dancers who attend the south area Ballet Academy. From Highlands Ranch: Natalie Cleland, Abbey Garber, Delaney Gilmore, Ava Miller, Katie Pfeufer, Sophis Quinn, Sophia Thomas and Addison Whitley. From Littleton, dancers include Alexa Chavez, Emma Cumming, Emma Lewis, Sierra Oklesson, Paige Pimmel, Ashley Rice and Rachel Vilner. From Englewood: Nichole Ahrens, Emma Brizee, Evelyn Lyman, Alexa Peach, Malory Travis and Cassidy Travis. From Centennial: Emma Garrison and Hanna Eckerman will dance. Castle Rock dancers include Courtney King, Isabella Lee, Taylor Nossaman, Kristin Palyo and Rachel Peete. Ticket prices range from $24 to $154, coloradoballet.org, 303-837-8888 ext 2. Numerous performances.

• Littleton Dance Academy will feature a cast of more than 120 children, pre-professional dancers and guest artists in a production that runs at 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 1 and 2 p.m. Dec. 2 at Colorado Heights University Theater, 3001 S. Federal Blvd., Denver. (School director Allison Jaramillo once danced as Clara in David Taylor Dance Theatre productions.) Tickets: $16 to $23. Littletondanceacademy.org. 303-794-6694.

• Dawson|Wallace Dance Project, which took over the David Taylor Dance Theater, presents the charming Taylor version of “The Nutcracker” on Dec. 15-23 at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway, Lakewood, where it has been selling out for a number of years. Performances: 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 1 and 5 p.m. Sundays. Special reception before the 8 p.m. Dec. 21 show at $50. Tickets: $38/$28, 303-987-7845, Lakewood.org/CulturalCenter.

• “The Nutcracker of Parker” is presented by the Colorado School of Dance at the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker, from Dec. 13 to 16. Tickets: PACECenteronline.org, 303-805-6800.

• Ballet Ariel, a Denver company that has at times performed in Highlands Ranch, will present its “Nutcracker” at the historic Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre, 119 Park Ave., Denver. Performances: 3 p.m. Dec. 8, 9, 15, 16 and 8 p.m. Dec. 15. Tickets: $20/$16. There will be Sugarplum Teas on Sundays Dec. 9 and 16, following the performances, for $15 per child (adults free with a child.) 303-945-4388, balletariel.org.