Theater & art

Holiday Arts Preview

Critic’s picks: Dance

THE NUTCRACKER The gold standard for “Nutcracker” ballets in New England is Boston Ballet’s gloriously lavish version, with sparkling sets, costumes, and choreography, plus dependably impressive dancing, from company soloists to the huge cast of adorable kids. Nov. 28-Dec. 31, $45-$220. Boston Opera House. 617-695-6955, www.bostonballet.org

THE NUTCRACKER For 27 years, José Mateo Ballet Theatre has put its own stamp on the classic, with solid dancing and choreography in an intimate staging. Streamlined and affordable, it’s a great introduction to the ballet, presented in three locations. Nov. 28-30, $15-$50, Duxbury Performing Arts Center, Duxbury. Dec. 4-14, $38-$50, Sanctuary Theatre, Cambridge. Dec. 19-21, $15-$50, Strand Theater, Dorchester. 617-354-7467, www.ballettheatre.org

THE NUTCRACKER Commonwealth Ballet Company’s production aims to portray the familiar tale with warmth and humor while providing a showcase for 75 local ballet students. Guest soloists include former American Ballet Theatre dancers Anna Liceica and Vitali Krauchenka. Nov. 28-30, $20-$38. Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, Acton. Dec. 12-14, Regis College’s Casey Theatre, Weston. 978-263-7794, www.commonwealthballet.org

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URBAN NUTCRACKER In Tony Williams’s multicultural version of the E. T. A. Hoffmann tale, ballet meets tap, jazz, hip-hop, flamenco, and even hula-hooping. Music for this charming update alternates between the traditional Tchaikovsky score and Duke Ellington’s jazz suite. The professional cast is complemented with a variety of guest artists and a bevy of children. Dec. 12-28, $25-$85. John Hancock Hall. 888-596-1027, www.backbayeventscenter.com

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WHAT THE DICKENS! A female corporate miser named Ebeneeza is at the center of Cambridge Youth Dance Program’s take on “A Christmas Carol,” but the real star is dance, with numbers ranging from modern and ballet to hip-hop and acrobatics. Guest performers include Ricardo Foster, Shaquan Reed, and Sean Bjerke. Dec. 19-21, $30, $25 seniors and students. Boston University Dance Theater. 617-497-1448, www.cydp.org

NOT! THE NUTCRACKER This holiday-themed production by the Jeannette Neill Dance Studio taps into the spirit of the season with styles ranging from modern to jazz and hip-hop. Faculty, students, and Boston Youth Moves are joined by Boston-based hip-hop dance crew The CONcept ARTists. Dec. 5-6, 8 p.m., $20 pre-sale, $25 at the door. Boston University’s Tsai Performance Center. 617-523-1355, www.jndance.com

TAFUTA! A YOUNG BOY’S SEARCH FOR THE TRUE MEANING OF KWANZAA OrigiNation founder-artistic director Shaumba-Yandje Dibinga wrote and directed this original play with dance and music celebrating Kwanzaa. NIA Dance Troupe, IMANI, Jr., and more than 50 youngsters perform a celebratory show about Kwanzaa. Dec. 21, 7 p.m., $18 in advance, $20 at the door. Roxbury Community College Mainstage Theater, Roxbury. 617-541-1875, www.originationinc.org


CHRISTMAS REFLECTIONS
This annual production by the Boston Liturgical Dance Ensemble aims to channel the true spirit of Christmas, from the joy of the nativity to today’s culture. Professional dancers, children, and community members join in a family-oriented celebration. Dec. 19-21, $15-$20. Boston College’s Robsham Theater Arts Center, Chestnut Hill. 617-552-4002, www.blde.org

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12 DANCERS DANCING . . . A CHRISTMAS IN CAMBRIDGE Honey Blonder’s quirky annual holiday dance celebration features a range of performers, including Rainbow Tribe, Adrienne Hawkins, Boston Community Dance Project, Contemporarily Out of Order, and Forty Steps Dance. Dec. 12-14, $20, $15 seniors and children. Dance Complex, Cambridge. 617-547-9363, www.honeyblonderdance.com

THE SLUTCRACKER A decidedly different and altogether irreverent holiday offering, this holiday burlesque show by Sugar Coated Productions returns for its seventh season of ribald revelry. This take on Clara’s fantastical adventure trades snowflakes and sugarplums for whips and pasties. Dec. 5-31, $27. Somerville Theatre, Somerville. 617-625-4088, www.theslutcracker.com

KAREN CAMPBELL

More coverage:

- Special section: Holiday Arts Preview

Karen Campbell can be reached at karencampbell4@rcn.com.