Holiday Arts Preview: Dance picks

“The Hip Hop Nutcracker” is at Emerson Colonial Theatre Dec. 15-16.
“The Hip Hop Nutcracker” is at Emerson Colonial Theatre Dec. 15-16.(Tim Norris)

THE NUTCRACKER While Sugar Plum Fairies and little Polichinelles begin dancing across stages all over New England, Mikko Nissinen’s version of the beloved classic for Boston Ballet remains the region’s most resplendent. Lavish production values and live music complement robust choreography, accomplished dancing, and — of course — a lively corps of adorable kids. Nov. 29-Dec. 30. $37-$325. Boston Opera House. 617-695-6955,

THE NUTCRACKER José Mateo Ballet Theatre continues its 31-year tradition of presenting a colorfully vibrant yet relatively intimate and affordable production of Clara’s dream journey. Smaller in scale but big in heart, this version streamlines the narrative a bit for younger viewers and allows for closer seating, with performances at two locations. Nov. 30-Dec. 9, Cutler Majestic Theatre. Dec. 14-23, Strand Theatre, Dorchester. $25-$80. 617-354-7467,


NEWPORT NUTCRACKER AT ROSECLIFF Island Moving Company offers its 17th annual “Nutcracker” in Newport’s romantic Rosecliff mansion. Dancers are mere steps away as they perform on the famous sweetheart staircase and in some of the mansion’s magnificent rooms and hallways, leading audiences along for the action. Limited tickets sell out, so book early. Nov. 21-Nov. 30. $60-$126. Rosecliff, Newport, R.I. 401-847-4470, www.island

URBAN NUTCRACKER Anthony Williams’s Boston-centric classic takes the holiday tale in a fresh direction, with a multicultural spin on casting, dance styles, and music (juxtaposing Tchaikovsky’s lushly romantic score with Duke Ellington’s jazz interpretation). In its 18th season, the show moves to new digs at the Shubert and involves more than 150 performers, including professionals from the newly launched City Ballet of Boston and a crew of enthusiastic students. Dec. 20-30. $28-$118. Boch Center Shubert Theatre. 866-348-9738,

THE HIP HOP NUTCRACKER In the return of this touring production, E.T.A. Hoffmann’s familiar story is set in 1980s Brooklyn, with Drosselmeyer sending Maria-Clara and her prince back in time to the moment her parents met in a nightclub. Choreographed by Jennifer Weber, the mash-up includes 12 dancers, as well as an onstage DJ and electric violinist to complement the Tchaikovsky score with musical remixes. Dec. 15-16. $45-$134. Emerson Colonial Theatre. 866-616-0272, www.emerson


FUNNY UNCLE CABARET & NUT/CRACKED David Parker’s The Bang Group takes “The Nutcracker” way off center in a wickedly irreverent parody that’s sometimes hilarious, sometimes discomfiting. But the performers dance their socks off in a range of dance styles, and it’s a goofy antidote to the holiday craziness. The evening’s first half is “Funny Uncle Cabaret” by Peter DiMuro/Public Displays of Motion, which examines the season through an LGBTQ lens. Dec. 14-16. $13-$31. Dance Complex, Cambridge. 617-547-9363,

WHAT THE DICKENS! Deborah Mason Dudley’s Cambridge Youth Dance Program celebrates the 10th season of its popular dance theater interpretation of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.” With choreography ranging from ballet and tap to hip-hop and flamenco, this family-oriented production features talented youth as well as seasoned professionals. Dec. 14-23. $25-$65. John Hancock Hall. 617-616-5124,

12 DANCERS DANCING . . . A CHRISTMAS IN CAMBRIDGE Honey Blonder’s lively holiday showcase has been offering a quirky alternative to “Nutcracker” madness for an impressive 20 years, with an eclectic array of original choreography evoking the season. This year’s production features 14 companies from around the area, including Disco Brats, Rainbow Tribe, North Shore Civic Ballet, and Nozama Dance Collective. Dec. 8-9. $16-$23. Dance Complex, Cambridge. 617-547-9363,


AURORA BOREALIS: A FESTIVAL OF LIGHT AND DANCE The magic of this production is found in the interplay of light and form. Boston University’s festive annual presentation is a non-sectarian celebration featuring collaborative, experimental dance and movement pieces by faculty and students. Dec. 2-3. Free. Boston University Dance Theater. 617-353-1597,

TAFUTA! A YOUNG CHILD’S SEARCH FOR THE TRUE MEANING OF KWANZAA In this annual show, OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center celebrates the rich African-American tradition of Kwanzaa. Shaumba Yandje Dbinga’s family-oriented musical tells the story of a young girl, bullied because of her faith, who discovers her voice and personal strength. Dec. 15. $20. Roxbury Community College Mainstage Theater, Roxbury. 617-522-3900,

Karen Campbell can be reached at