Holiday dance picks

THE NUTCRACKER This time of year, New England is rich with productions of this timeless ballet, but Mikko Nissinen’s resplendent take on the beloved classic for Boston Ballet is the area’s gold standard, marking the start of the holiday season for many families. Chock-full of expressive, highly skilled dancing and lots of adorable kids, this lavish production sports live orchestral music, as well as dazzling sets and vibrant costumes. Nov. 24-Dec. 31. $35 -$300. Boston Opera House. 617-695-6955, www.bostonballet.org

THE NUTCRACKER José Mateo Ballet Theatre takes a more intimate approach to Clara’s dream journey, tweaking and streamlining the narrative to be particularly accessible for younger viewers. Now in its 30th consecutive season, the production will be presented at two different locations. Nov. 25-Dec. 10, Cutler Majestic Theatre. Dec. 15-24, Strand Theatre, Dorchester. $20-$75. 617-354-7467, www.BalletTheatre.org

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NEWPORT NUTCRACKER AT ROSECLIFF Island Moving Company’s acclaimed presentation of the ballet unfolds in what many consider Newport’s most romantic mansion, leading the audience through a series of magnificent rooms and hallways. Even the famous sweetheart staircase gets in on the action as the setting for the ballet’s rousing battle between mice and soldiers. Limited tickets sell out, so book early. Nov. 24-Dec. 1. $55-$100. Rosecliff, Newport, RI. 401-847-4470, www.islandmovingco.org


URBAN NUTCRACKER Tony Williams Dance Center’s intrepid little charmer is in its 17th year of bringing a lively multicultural Boston spin to the familiar tale. Amassing a crew of 150 performers — kids as well as professionals — the production spins through a wide range of dance styles to a mix of Tchaikovsky’s luminous score and Duke Ellington’s jazz interpretation. Dec. 15-28. $25-$85. John Hancock Hall, Boston. 888-596-1027, www.urbannutcracker.com

THE HIP HOP NUTCRACKER This touring production, which slams into Boston as part of a whirlwind 28-city venture, seems conceptually a lot like “Urban Nutcracker.” But what this adaptation will lack in homespun local flavor it should make up for with first-rate dancing by a dozen professionals in choreography by Jennifer Weber. The traditional Tchaikovsky score is complemented by musical remixes supplied by an onstage DJ and an electric violinist. Dec. 21-23. $25-$75. Shubert Theatre. 866-348-9738, www.bochcenter.org

NUT/CRACKED And then there’s The Bang Group’s totally irreverent and hilarious parody, which turns the whole “Nutcracker” enterprise on its ear. Choreographer David Parker and his New York-based company take on Tchaikovsky’s music with tap and other percussive dance as the second half of an evening that begins with selections from Peter DiMuro’s “Gumdrops & The Funny Uncle,” a family-oriented holiday offering with an LGBTQ perspective. Dec. 14-16. $25.50-$35. Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.bostontheatrescene.com

WHAT THE DICKENS! Deborah Mason Dudley’s Cambridge Youth Dance Program puts a contemporary twist on another holiday classic, Charles Dickens’s fanciful “A Christmas Carol.” Celebrating it’s ninth season, this family-oriented original dance production rounds up talented youth as well as seasoned professionals, including Boston Ballet alum Clyde Nantais making his debut as Scrooge. Choreography ranges from ballet to tap. Dec. 14-17. $30-$35. Boston University Dance Theater. 617-616-5124, www.cydp.org

12 DANCERS DANCING . . . A CHRISTMAS IN CAMBRIDGE Honey Blonder’s festive annual holiday showcase provides an offbeat complement to all the dancing sugar plums and waltzing flowers. This year’s production features a diverse array of holiday-themed original choreography presented by 14 Boston-based companies, including Disco Brats, Rainbow Tribe, North Shore Civic Ballet, and OnStage Dance Company, among others. Dec. 9-10. $16-$22. The Dance Complex, Cambridge. 617-547-9363, www.dancecomplex.org


TAFUTA! A YOUNG CHILD’S SEARCH FOR THE TRUE MEANING OF KWANZAA Shaumba-Yandje Dbinga’s original musical, presented by OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center, celebrates the rich African-American tradition of Kwanzaa through dance, song, and storytelling. Dec. 15-16. $20. Roxbury Community College Mainstage Theater, Roxbury. 617-522-3900, www.originationinc.org

AURORA BOREALIS: A FESTIVAL OF LIGHT AND DANCE Amid the bright lights and shiny tinsel of the season, Boston University’s annual exploration of the magical relationship between light and form features a festive but decidedly non-sectarian celebration, featuring dance and movement pieces by faculty and students. Dec. 3-4. Free. Boston University Dance Theater. 617-353-1597, www.bu.edu/fitrec/dance/dance-theater