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A sampler of upcoming metro ‘Nutcrackers’

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

Now that the Halloween princess costumes have been put up, it can only mean that it’s time for “The Nutcracker” princess costumes to come out.

If you think it’s grossly too early to be talking “Nutcracker,” you must not believe in the power (and box-office potential) of the Sugar Plum Fairy. In fact, the metro area’s first major “Nutcracker” of the season, Ballethnic Dance Company’s “Urban Nutcracker,” opens Nov. 15. Before the month is out at least three other biggies make their bow, with the city’s biggest, Atlanta Ballet’s, holding out until early December.

Here’s an at-a-glance rundown to some of the bigger productions for those marking calendars with fairy dust:

  • Ballethnic Dance Company’s “Urban Nutcracker,” the troupe’s 19th staging, runs Nov. 15-18 at Georgia Tech’s Ferst Center for the Arts. Waverly T. Lucas II, co-artistic director, of the city’s first and only African-American-founded classically trained professional ballet company, sets his adaptation on Atlanta’s historic Auburn Avenue in the 1940s. 404-894-9601, www.ballethnic.org.
  • Georgia Metropolitan Dance Theatre’s (formerly Ruth Mitchell Dance Theatre) “The Nutcracker,” featuring new choreography and costumes, is Nov. 23-25 at Cobb Civic Center. 678-287-9020, www.georgiametrodance.org.
  • Gwinnett Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker” runs Nov. 30-Dec. 16 at Gwinnett Performing Arts Center. Guests at “Backstage Pass,” a grand opening of the company’s new facilities at 1800 Macleod Drive, Lawrenceville (across Sugarloaf Parkway from Gwinnett Technical College), 5-8 p.m. Nov. 17, can catch a glimpse of “Nutcracker” rehearsals, among other activities (free, but reservations requested). 770-237-0046, www.gwinnettballet.org.
  • Georgia Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” is Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at Cobb Civic Center. The 5:30 p.m. Dec. 2 performance will feature celebrity appearances by CBS Atlanta anchor JaQuitta Williams; Dianne Isakson, artist-wife of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson; Cobb Chamber of Commerce chairman Tony Britton; and Dr. William A. Cooper of Wellstar Kennestone Hospital and Emory University School of Medicine. 770-528-0881, www.georgiaballet.org.
  • Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker,” Dec. 7-26 at the Fox Theatre, turns up the magic quotient with master illusionist Drew Thomas appearing for the company’s 53rd production. Artistic director John McFall updates his choreography every year for the large-scale dance featuring more than 250 Atlanta-area children performing alongside the professional company.

“Nutcracker” opens the Atlanta Ballet 2012-14 season, and look for a few changes in the company’s steady dancer ranks, by the way. Nineteen of the 21 professional company members are returning from last season, including double-digit veterans John Welker (18th season), Tara Lee (17th season), Jonah Hooper (14th season) and Christian Clark (11th season).

Another 18-season member, Christine Winkler, will be on hiatus this season. She and husband John Welker are expecting their first child next spring. Alexandre Barros and Benjamin Stone will join the professional group after being promoted from fellowship and apprentice status, respectively. 855-285-8499, www.atlantaballet.com.

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