The Nutcracker is a treasured holiday tradition and it's playing now at the Academy of Music.
The Pennsylvania Ballet has been performing George Balanchine's The Nutcracker for decades, "one of the most popular in the United States and around the world," says Pennsylvania Ballet Artistic Director, Angel Corella. "It doesn't feel like Christmas until The Nutcracker is on stage."
The iconic Tchaikovsky score is a big part of the experience.
"It's part of the Christmas tradition," Corella says, "It's very familiar to everyone."
And so is the story of a little girl named Marie.
"She's celebrating Christmas Eve with her family and she gets a visit of her uncle Drosselmeyer," Corella explains. "He brings her a nutcracker, a beautiful nutcracker."
A little Christmas magic ensues.
"The Nutcracker comes to life and becomes part of this incredible story," Corella says.
There's a battle with a Mouse King.
"We don't really know if it's a dream," Corella says, "or it's in her imagination."
Either way, the story ends sweetly in the Land of Candy.
"They get to meet the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier," Corella says. "You have the Marzipan, you have the Candy Cane, you have the coffee, tea."
Each sweet represents a different country and showcases different styles of dancing.
"It's a great, great way to represent the whole world within one ballet," Corella says.
About 80 dancers are in the show, both company dancers and kids from the school.
"Every day we have a completely different cast," Corella says, "It makes it very exciting for the audience but also for the dancers."
Bringing everyone together is part of what makes the ballet so special.
"The Nutcracker is such an amazing tradition,"Corella says. "I think the whole Nutcracker from beginning to end is one of those shows."
It is, Corella says, a magical ballet, from the beloved music to the sets and costumes, "and it's something that the whole family can share."
PA Ballet: George Balanchine's The Nutcracker | Shows and tickets | Facebook
Through Dec. 31
Academy of Music
240 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19102
Catch holiday classic 'The Nutcracker' at the Academy of Music