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  1. Stage

'Nutcracker' performances dance our way for Christmas

For many families, the holidays aren't complete until they've seen The Nutcracker on stage.

From the mouse king to the march of the toy soldiers to the Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy, it's hard to hear Tchaikovsky's music and not think of Christmas.

The Nutcracker has everything from pretty melodies to gorgeous costumes, and for many children, it's their first exposure to ballet and classical music. Not a bad bargain in the family tradition department.

There are several productions in the Tampa Bay area in the coming weeks, from the talents of the performing arts magnet students at Gibbs High School to the real deals from Moscow.

PCCA presents The Nutcracker

A new interpretation of the classic ballet with students from Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School. The performance weekend includes a Nutcracker Holiday Ball on Saturday where you can interact with cast members, enjoy light refreshments and family-friendly activities, and enter a raffle to win prizes. That's $5 from 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Performances will be 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday in the Grande Theater at Gibbs High School, 850 34th St. S, St. Petersburg. $10, $8 students.

The Nutcracker by Brandon Ballet

The dance company presents Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker in three performances at Spoto High School, 8538 Eagle Palm Drive, Riverview, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. $25, $20 seniors, $15 ages 18 and younger, with tickets available at the door and at (813) 684-4282.

Next Generation Ballet's The Nutcracker

Internationally renowned guest artists from the New York City Ballet, principals Sterling Hyltin (portraying the Sugar Plum Fairy) and Adrian Danchig-Waring (Cavalier) and the dancers of NGB, will perform with a cast of nearly 175 dancers, gymnasts and other guest artists Dec. 19-20 at Carol Morsani Hall at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $30-$125. (813) 229-7827.

The Family Blessing (formerly The Chocolate Nutcracker)

Artz 4 Life Academy's annual Nutcracker production takes a new direction to promote family unity with a diverse cast at the Mahaffey Theater. Follow a young boy named Michael as he experiences the blessings that come simply through having a family Dec. 19-20 at the Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $17-$37. (727) 892-3337.

The Tampa Ballet Theatre Presents The Nutcracker

The debut performance of Ruth Eckerd Hall's in-house ballet company brings Tchaikovsky's holiday classic to life at 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 23 at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $25-$50. (727) 791-7400.

Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker

The internationally touring, critically acclaimed ballet company presents a performance featuring award-winning principal dancers, magical backdrops and props and stunning costumes. Three performances on Dec. 26 at noon, 4 and 8 p.m. at the Mahaffey Theater. $32-$97. (727) 892-3337.

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at or (727) 893-8595. Follow @SharonKWn.