· New York City Ballet
NYCB's production of the ballet is a standout because it was choreographed by the legendary George Balanchine for the company in 1954. Balanchine's interpretation of the tale began the tradition here and abroad of marking the holidays with performances of the story ballet, and dance companies all over the country copied his version. NYCB stays true to Balanchine's vision today. Catch a show through January 2 at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater.
· American Ballet Theatre
A second NYC pick may seem like bias, but ABT is arguably the best ballet company in the world. ABT artist-in-residence Alexei Ratmansky, former artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, is debuting the world premiere of his take on the beloved chestnut. Plus, there will be a live orchestra and costumes and sets from Tony Award-winning Lion King designer Richard Hudson. The BAM Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn willl host the show December 22 to January 2.
· San Francisco Ballet
Balanchine and the New York City Ballet's take on the tale may be the most widely known, but SFB—the oldest professional American ballet company—staged the first complete version of The Nutcracker in the country in 1944. The company's updated version gets a local spin: Artistic director Helgi Tomasson set the story ballet in 1915 at San Fran's World Fair. The production runs through December 27 at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco.
[Photo: New York City Ballet's Facebook]