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The Nutcrackers

No less than four very different takes on the classic tale of "The Nutcracker" will be held in the area during December.

From Dec. 1-3, the Center Dance Company will present its traditional holiday performance of "The Nutcracker." Choreography is by Nancie Woods and Caroline Warren.; for example, last year's edition featured a 1940s-style dance routine.

Shows are held on Friday, Dec. 1 and Saturday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 3, at 1 and 5 p.m. at the Thomas Jefferson Community theater in Arlington. Tickets are available online at www.arldance.org.

At Classika Theater, 4041 S. 28th Street, an unusual production of "The Nutcracker" will be staged from Dec. 9-31 and Jan. 6-28.

Classika’s Executive Director Alyona Ushe said the show uses puppets and actors to tell the story, with some of the puppets "created on stage." Adapted by Inna Shapiro and Lilia Slavova, it features elegant sets and the musical score by Peter Tchaikovsky.

The show plays Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m., with special holiday performances on Dec. 26 and 28 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $12 advance and $15 at the door. Visit www.classika.org for more information.

On Dec. 3, the U.S. Army Blues Jazz Ensemble presents its most popular concert of the holiday season: "A Stan Kenton Christmas with the Duke Ellington Nutcracker."

The ensemble, an offshoot of the U.S. Army Band, traditionally offers Kenton's take on holiday classics. Ellington's "The Nutcracker" is added to the mix. "It's 'The Nutcracker,' good 'ole Tchaikovsky, but with a jazz twist," said Jen Maly, director of marketing for the band.

"A Stan Kenton Christmas with the Duke Ellington Nutcracker" will be held on Sunday, Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. at Kenmore Middle School, 200 S. Carlin Springs Road. Call 703-696-3399 or visit www.usarmyband.com for more information.

Finally, on Dec. 16 and 17, the Ballet Arts Ensemble of the Center for Ballet Arts presents "Nutcracker in a Nutshell," which is a condensed version of the classic for children. Performances are scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 16 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m, and on Sunday, Dec. 17, at 3 p.m. The performances will be held at the Rachel Schlesinger Concert Hall - NOVA Alexandria Campus, 3001 North Beauregard St.

Tickets go on sale starting on Sunday, Nov. 26 at 1:30 p.m. at the studio, located at 11215 H-K Lee Highway in Fairfax. Advance sale tickets purchased at the studio will be $15. Tickets purchased by mail or at the door will be $18. All seating will be reserved.

<1b>— Greg Wyshynski