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'Nutcracker' returns after Thanksgiving

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Special Photo The Northeast Atlanta Ballet performs the classic holiday ballet "The Nutcracker" this weekend.

IF YOU GO

• What: “The Nutcracker”

• When: 2 and 7:30 p.m. today, 10 a.m., 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 6 p.m. Sunday

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

• Cost: $12.50 to $21.50

• For more information: Visit www.northeastatla...>

DULUTH -- More than 100 years after "The Nutcracker" premiered, dancers are still performing this holiday classic, including the Northeast Atlanta Ballet.

The Lilburn company performs the fantastical story today through Sunday at the Performing Arts Center at Gwinnett Center.

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.

"I think people like tradition and look forward to taking their families to see the show every year," NAB Artistic Director Jennifer Gordon said.

After the tedious audition process, the company started rehearsals in August to prepare for the three-day showing.

"The girls rehearse three times a week on top of their other classes and studies," Gordon said. "They are very busy and dedicated to dance."

Since "The Nutcracker" calls for a large cast -- more dancers than NAB teaches -- the company seeks several young children from the community to perform in the smaller roles.

"We always use extra children," Gordon said. "For them, it's great to be a part of a full length production -- to have a chance to perform with a live orchestra (Gwinnett Symphony Orchestra) and (wear) elaborate costumes."

This year, local costume designer, Barbara Mock and MJ Designs teamed up to create fresh outfits for some of the scenes, which is one reason Northeast's show stands out from other local companies' renditions, according to Gordon.

"I think the quality of the costuming, sets (created by Jolen Bain) and dancers helps us stand out," she said. "We make the ballet affordable for our community. We keep our ticket prices down and it allows more people -- in a bad economy -- that we are able to bring the arts to."

Tickets available through Ticketmaster or the Gwinnett Arena Box Office. Girls Scouts are able to purchase tickets for $10 per person at the Northeast Atlanta Ballet.