First 'Nutcracker' opens today in Gwinnett

More than 100 years after "The Nutcracker" premiered, dancers are still performing this holiday classic.

The ballet, with music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, was first performed in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1892. In the United States, a shortened version of "The Nutcracker" was first performed in 1940. A full-length version of the show, choreographed by George Balanchine, was presented in New York in 1954. In Georgia, The Atlanta Ballet has been performing "The Nutcracker" since 1964.

The ballet tells the story of Clara, a little girl who receives a nutcracker as a gift during a Christmas party. Later that evening, Clara's nutcracker comes to life and fights during a battle between a group of toy soldiers and vicious mice.

After the battle ends, the nutcracker becomes a prince and takes Clara on a fantastic journey. They see the Snow Queen and the Sugar Plum Fairy, who presents a number of dances for them.

A production of "The Nutcracker" performed by the Northeast Atlanta Ballet will open today and continue through Sunday at the Performing Arts Center at Gwinnett Center.

Next weekend, a version presented by Gwinnett Ballet Theatre will open at the performing arts center. The Gwinnett Ballet's weekend performances will continue through Dec. 18.

The Atlanta Ballet's "The Nutcracker" will open Dec. 9 and continue through Dec. 30 at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.

If you go

•What: "The Nutcracker"

•Who: The Northeast Atlanta Ballet

•Where: The Performing Arts Center at Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth

•When: At 2 and 7:30 p.m. today, at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday

•Cost: In advance, tickets are $10. At the door, tickets are $12.

•Info: Call 770-921-7277 or visit www.northeastatlantaballet.org.

•What: "The Nutcracker"

•Who: Gwinnett Ballet Theatre

•Where: The Performing Arts Center at Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth

•When: Dec. 2-4, 9-11 and 16-18. At 7:30 p.m. Friday, at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

•Cost: Tickets are $20 for adults and $12 for senior citizens, students and children.

•Info: Call 770-978-0188 or visit www.gwinnettballet.org.

•What: "The Nutcracker"

•Who: Atlanta Ballet

•When: Dec. 9-30. Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, 16 and 20; 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 11 and 18; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10, 17, 21, 22, 23 and 29; 1 p.m. Dec. 24 and 2 p.m. Dec. 28 and 30.

•Where: The Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. in Atlanta

•Cost: Ticket prices range from $10 to $76.

•Info: Call 404-817-8700 or visit www.atlantaballet.com.