Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" features what is arguably the most iconic holiday music in the world, and for many, taking in a performance of the classic ballet is de rigueur this time of year.
Luckily there are plenty of places in the Hudson Valley where you can see "The Nutcracker" in all its forms -- from the traditional to the subversive. Get ready to be transported from New York to the Land of Sweets with these six local shows.
New Paltz Ballet Theatre in Poughkeepsie
Teresa Reichlin and Ask LaCour, principal dancers from the New York City Ballet, will play Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier for the New Paltz Ballet Theatre's 15th season of "The Nutcracker." Regional artists and children, the bulk of whom range in age from 7 to 18, will join them. Expect new choreography, a new snow set and some new costumes as well.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8; 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9
Catskill Ballet Theatre in Kingston
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Catskill Ballet Theatre's "Nutcracker" performances at the Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston. Guest artists from Ohio will play Sugar Plum Fairy and Prince and dance alongside students of the company. Children from Kingston, Rhinebeck and Woodstock will take part in the performance, too.
A special offer on Dec. 7 includes admission to the evening performance plus a cocktail reception in the upstairs lobby from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. for $35.
When: 8 p.m. Sat., Dec. 8; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9
"nutcracker '12" in Purchase
The performing company of Purchase College's Conservatory of Dance presents the innovative "nutcracker '12." In the opening scene, snowflakes projected onto a screen will morph into images of ballerinas who then merge with real ballerinas as they dance across the stage.
"nutcracker '12," which features Conservatory students as well as about 150 local children, is based on Purchase dance professor Bettijane Sills' vision, but guest choreographer John Heginbotham (formerly of Mark Morris Dance Group), has made several additions, including having one of the main characters, Drosselmeyer, clone himself magically on stage into three. Purchase alumn Nicolo Fonte also added some special new dance twists to the pas de deux and the Chinese Variation segment of the second act.
And new this year is choreography by Nelly van Bommel, another alumnus of Purchase, who has created a new surprise dance scene for Mother Ginger and the "Santamints."
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8; 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9
Info: Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, 735 Anderson Hill Rd., Purchase; 914-251-.6200; www.artscenter.org; $24.75-$52.50
"Max & Ruby in The Nutcracker" in Tarrytown
Beloved bunny siblings (and Nickelodeon regulars) Max and Ruby are the stars of this performance geared specifically toward kids. It's Christmas Eve and 3 1/2-year-old Max and his 7-year-old sister Ruby are treated to their grandmother's vivid retelling of the Nutcracker story. Ruby's imagination whisks her away as she becomes one of the characters. Max joins her, but has his own ideas (as usual), which lead the story in a sweet direction.
Ballet dancing, music, life-size bunnies and "some bunny high jinks" round out the 90-minute performance.
When: 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10
Westchester Ballet Company in White Plains
The Westchester Ballet Company's artistic directors, Beth Fritz-Logrea and Jean Logrea, choreograph this traditional performance of "The Nutcracker". The 17th annual ballet performance includes classic choreography and special stage effects. In addition to the professionals, the show will feature student and adult dancers from across Westchester County and neighboring communities.
When: 10 a.m. (school performance) Friday, Dec. 14; 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16
Info: Westchester County Center, 1198 Central Ave., White Plains; 914-995-4050; www.countycenter.biz ; $14-$25