Friday-Sunday: Ballet Minnesota has made “The Classic Nutcracker” a holiday tradition for 25 years, and this year the production returns with all of its magnificent costumes, family-oriented fun and high-spirited dancing. There’s a lot of joy in this production (which is very faithful to the original), from the swirls of color to the multigenerational cast, including the many young dancers who take their first steps in front of an audience. Choreographed by Andrew Rist. (7:30 p.m. Fri., 2 & 7:30 p.m. Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., $16-$44, the O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University, 2004 Randolph Av., St. Paul, 651-690-6700 or www.theoshaughnessy.com.)
Saturday: The Metropolitan Ballet and Hopkins Youth Ballet offer two performances of “The Nutcracker” with the Kenwood Symphony under the direction of Yuri Ivan. Directed by Erik Sanborn, this traditional holiday production features guest artist Guiseppe Bausilio, a familiar face to fans of Broadway’s “Billy Elliot” and “Newsies.” This traditional production of the holiday standby is made for audiences of all ages. (1 & 7:30 p.m. Sat., Ted Mann Concert Hall, University of Minnesota, 2128 S. 4th St., Mpls. $19-$59, 866-811-4111 or www.metroballet.org.) C.P.
MINNESOTA DANCE THEATRE
Opening Friday: Celebrating its 49th year, Loyce Houlton’s “Nutcracker Fantasy” will return this season with musical accompaniment by a 44-piece orchestra under the baton of conductor Philip Brunelle. It’s no small thing to have Tchaikovsky’s famous score played live — the immediacy of the music adds sparkle to the holiday fun. The show will return to the State Theatre, so there will be more seats than in prior years at the Cowles Center but fewer performances. Families can also join in the “Nutcracker Tea Party” at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 22, which includes treats, a backstage tour, a photo with cast members and premium seating for the show. (7:30 p.m. Fri., 2 & 7:30 p.m. Sat., 1 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. Sun., noon Mon., $35-$75 ($100-$125 for the tea party/show Dec. 22), State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 1-800-987-2787, www.ticketmaster.com.) C.P.