Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 9.50.54 AM

George Balanchine’s classic Nutcracker

New York City truly comes to life this time of year, as concert halls, theater stages, and dance companies perform a festive array of shows in honor of the holiday season. Radio City Music Hall and its iconic Rockettes delight audiences with their high kicks for weeks leading up to Christmas, Rockefeller Center hosts a magnificent tree lighting ceremony, and holly-lined ice skating rinks pop up here and there across Manhattan. It’s a magical time to visit the city, and also the best time to enjoy the ballet, where more than a dozen dance companies will bring renditions of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” to New York this holiday season.

This year, there will be not one, not two, but fourteen different adaptations of the beloved ballet happening across New York City. Here, we shine a spotlight on just three of the upcoming performances that you do not want to miss.

The New York City Ballet Presents: George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker.” This captivating rendition of “The Nutcracker” returns every year to present a classic, utterly majestic ode to Tchaikovsky and original choreographer Marius Petipa. With 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 32 stagehands, as well as a cast of more than 50 young dance students, the incredible story comes to life on stage with precise choreography, and awe-inspiring costumes and music. As Brian Seibert for The New York Times explains, the “dancing was brilliant enough to recall the normal object of worship in a Balanchine ballet: the ballerina,” of the iconic Sugarplum Fairy. George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” is perhaps the most classical rendition of the ballet you’ll find in NYC this year. David H. Koch Theater, Manhattan (Through January 4th).

Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 9.41.29 AM

“Nutcracker Rouge” is unlike any version you’ve ever seen.
Image: companyxiv via Instagram

Company XIV Presents: “Nutcracker Rouge.” In what is perhaps the most unconventional adaptation of “The Nutcracker” ever performed, Company XIV’s racy, burlesque version of the classic ballet is sure to knock your socks off. Based on E.T.A. Hoffman’s “The Nutcracker,” this performance is “a sparkling reimagining of the beloved Nutcracker tale told with erotic, sensual and opulent flair,” explains Company XIV. It’s also self-described as a “hedonistic display of gorgeous and decadent winter entertainment.” A true departure from other classical adaptations, “Nutcracker Rouge” will feature elaborate costumes, circus-like choreography, and a sensory, unique performance from the cast. This is definitely not your traditional Nutcracker. Minetta Lane Theater, Manhattan (Through January 5th).

Peridance Contemporary Dance Center Presents: “The Nutcracker: A Contemporary Look.” The Peridance Center’s contemporary examination of the classic ballet is another original take on “The Nutcracker,” but one that is more child-friendly than “Nutcracker Rouge.” “A Contemporary Look” pays homage to Tchaikovsky, but also brings a new energy to the performance by integrating hip hop, modern, and ballet together in a fresh way. “Snowflakes, sugarplums, and a great pas de duex will capture your hearts as they have since childhood, while contemporary choreography makes Peridance’s Nutcracker unlike any you’ve seen before,” the Company explains. Peridance Contemporary Dance Company, Manhattan, (December 14th-15th).

Which rendition are you most excited to see?