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Classic Christmas magic

Holiday season offers several ‘Nutcracker’ renditions

It’s a holiday tradition: Every year before Christmas, several different productions of P.I. Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker” come out of the woodwork, each of them attempting to put its own stamp on the oft-told tale.

The story originates from German author E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” and it concerns a young girl named Clara who, on Christmas Eve, is given an intricately carved wooden nutcracker by her godfather, Drosselmeyer. The nutcracker is broken but transforms into a real-life prince in the middle of the night, and he and Clara find themselves in a fantasy land filled with militant mice and dancing sugar plum fairies.

Tchaikovsky translated Hoffmann’s story to the stage in 1892, and it has been wildly popular ever since, with several of its pieces ranking amongst the most recognizable in all of classical music.

Below are all the variations on the classic holiday ballet that are coming to town in the next two months, beginning Monday and continuing through the week of Christmas.

• Monday: Moscow Ballet’s “The Great Russian Nutcracker,” Bing Crosby Theater, 901 W. Sprague Ave. The Moscow Ballet has been performing their interpretation of “The Nutcracker” since 1993, and it’s likely the most unusual and elaborate of the productions. The show incorporates famous Russian iconography and elements of the country’s folklore into the story, utilizing inventive 3-D backdrops and large puppets. 7 p.m., $24.50-$70; tickets are available through all TicketsWest outlets.

• Dec. 3: Eugene Ballet Company’s “The Nutcracker,” Schuler Performing Arts Center, North Idaho College, 1000 W. Garden Ave., Coeur d’Alene; Dec. 14, Beasley Coliseum, Washington State University, Pullman; and Dec. 15 at the Panida Theater, 3 00 N. First Ave., Sandpoint. Here’s a considerably more traditional take on the story, performed by Oregon’s Eugene Ballet Company. Choreographed by company co-founder Toni Pimble, this production has been touring – primarily around the West Coast – to great acclaim. Tickets are available through TicketsWest.

• D ec. 4-7: “The Nutcracker,” featuring the Spokane Symphony and State Street Ballet, Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox, 1001 W. Sprague Ave. “The Nutcracker” has been a Christmastime staple of the Spokane Symphony for years, and the tradition continues under conductor Morihiko Nakahara. The symphony and Santa Barbara’s State Street Ballet will be performing alongside 81 local dancers and ballet students, who appear in some of the ballet’s larger set pieces. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees on Dec. 6 and 7. $12.50-$75; tickets are available through all TicketsWest outlets.

• Dec. 20-21: Ballet Coeur d’Alene’s “The Nutcracker,” Christ the King Lutheran Church, 1700 Pennsylvania Ave., Coeur d’Alene Students of Ballet Coeur d’Alene present their annual “Nutcracker” performance; both performances begin at 7 p.m., with a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on Dec. 20. Tickets are only $10 and can be purchased online at

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