Southern Arizona's Ballet Continental will celebrate the holidays with its 26th annual performance of the Nutcracker Ballet, Dec. 2 and 3 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 4, at 2 p.m. at Sahuarita Auditorium, 350 W. Sahuarita Road, Sahuarita.

The Nutcracker Ballet is based on the story "The Nutcracker and the King of Mice" written by E.T.A. Hoffman. Although what is seen on the stage today is different in detail from the original story, the basic plot remains the same; The story of a young German girl who dreams of a Nutcracker Prince and a fierce battle against a Mouse King. The Nutcracker Ballet is a holiday tradition throughout the world and Ballet Continental's Nutcracker feature 65 dancers under the artistic direction of Lisa Baker DiGiacomo.

Tchaikovsky's music and choreography adds an element of sheer enjoyment, magic and beauty to the stage, DiGiacomo says. Ballet Continental's dance troupe is made up of area dancers, including many from Santa Cruz County, Green Valley and Sahuarita, who will be featured in this Christmas show.

This year's Clara will be danced by Julia Bacchus and Jillian Linares. The dashing prince will be performed by guest artist Anthony Vincenti. Principal dancers Brittani Johnson and Andrea Pardi will dance the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy, along with Snow Queen and other leads.

This year's Cavalier will be danced by guest artist Kendall Fox and Ballet Continental's soloists Justine Bacchus, Brittney Blankenship and Sara Weis will be featured throughout the performance. Other guest artists include Josh and Daniel Gay, John Noble and Regina Ford as Frau Van Stahlbaum.

The costuming has been designed specifically for Ballet Continental's Nutcracker and the sets, designed by Mike Cain, Steven Bacchus and Dave Wear add a magical touch to this production, the director says.

Local seamstresses, Mary Lou Weis, Julie Arbogast and Carol Dupris have worked endless hours sewing and adorning the exquisite costumes, while many volunteer moms have been sewing and adding embellishments to make the costumes sparkle.

Outstanding dancing, costuming, sets, special effects, all bring this production to life by creating that special magic that reaches out to all ages.