Critic's picks

Dr. Drosselmeyer (José Mateo) gives the Nutcracker to Clara in the José Mateo Ballet Theatre production. Dr. Drosselmeyer (José Mateo) gives the Nutcracker to Clara in the José Mateo Ballet Theatre production. (Jim Scherer/File/2008)
By Karen Campbell
Globe Correspondent / November 21, 2010

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URBANITY DANCE How about a provocative antidote for rampant holiday materialism? Urbanity Dance director-choreographer Betsi Graves Akerstein opens her dance-theater version of Annie Leonard’s documentary “The Story of Stuff’’ on Black Friday, traditionally the most frenetic shopping day of the year. The contemporary collaborative’s new show features 18 dancers, with original sets and costumes. Nov. 26-27, Plaza Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. Dec. 4, Strand Theatre. $18-$22. 617-416-9726,

THE NUTCRACKER Commonwealth Ballet Company, an ambitious troupe of young dancers, doubles the fun this year, taking its hearty, colorful little “Nutcracker’’ to two venues. Fourteen core dancers are complemented with more than 75 area children and adults, as well as some stellar guest artists. Featured soloists include Anna Liceica, Vitali Krauchenka, Michael Johnson, Lindsay Moncrieff, and “So You Think You Can Dance’’ finalist AdeChike Torbert as the Nutcracker Prince. Nov. 26-28. Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, Acton. Dec. 10-12. Regis College’s Casey Theatre, Weston. $20-$35. 978-263-7794,

THE NUTCRACKER José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s intimate, streamlined version of the ballet has been presented in Boston-area venues for 20 years. This modest but charming production features substantive choreography and a wonderful, up-close immediacy that newcomers, especially younger viewers, may find particularly compelling. And don’t discount the allure of free, easy parking. Nov. 26-28. Duxbury Performing Arts Center, Duxbury. 617-354-7467. Dec. 3-19, Brandeis University’s Spingold Theatre, Waltham. 781-736-3400. $15-$50.

NEWPORT NUTCRACKER AT ROSECLIFF Choreographers Miki Ohlsen, Eva Marie Pacheco, and Michael Bolger have shaped the holiday classic to travel through the lavish rooms of romantic Rosecliff mansion in Newport, R.I. New staging in the snow scene surrounds the audience with a flurry of white. This distinctive and unusual production from Island Moving Company tends to sell out quickly, so plan ahead. Nov. 26-Dec. 3. $40-$125. Rosecliff, Newport, R.I. 401-847-4470,

URBAN NUTCRACKER Anthony Williams’s irreverent, multicultural “Nutcracker’’ celebrates its 10th anniversary this year in a new location, the Wheelock Family Theatre. This colorful, high-energy take on the fairy tale by BalletRox and guests steps to an urban beat, fusing ballet with hip-hop, tap, and swing and interlacing Tchaikovsky’s classic score with Duke Ellington’s jazzy reinterpretation. “Un-cola’’ man Geoffrey Holder makes a special guest appearance on Dec. 11. Dec. 3-19. $20-$50. Wheelock Family Theatre. 617-879-2300,

THE SLUTCRACKER Hire a baby sitter; this one’s for adults only. Ballerinas and burlesque queens work side by side in this rowdy, ribald parody, which takes the original ballet’s scenes and gives them a wicked twist with pasties and pole dances, whips and chains. Last year, 10 of 16 shows sold out, so this little slice of vaudeville could become its own special holiday tradition. Dec. 3-24. $20-$25. Somerville Theatre, Somerville. 617-852-3865,

ALICE IN WONDERLAND Dance Inn Productions and the Legacy Dance Company put a holiday spin on Alice’s curious tale. In pursuit of the elusive White Rabbit, Alice journeys to a magical winter wonderland, where she encounters a tappin’ Tweedledum and Tweedledee and some unexpected forest dwellers. She also makes a brief stop at the Dancing Queen’s Boogie Wonderland. Holiday disco fever, anyone? Dec. 3-4. $12.50-$17.50. Regent Theatre, Arlington. 781-646-4849,

NOT! THE NUTCRACKER Jeannette Neill Dance Studio’s 13th annual holiday-themed concert of jazz, modern, and hip-hop dance features new works by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater soloists Kirven James Boyd and Hope Boykin. Boyd, a Boston Youth Moves alumnus, offers “Gust,’’ a new three-part work for 10 dancers. Boykin presents “Interpreting 2,’’ a modern dance piece set to Tchaikovsky’s Concerto for Strings. The concert also includes dances by studio artistic director Neill and Boston Youth Moves artistic director Jim Viera. Dec. 3-4. $20-$25. Tsai Performance Center. 617-353-8725,

CLARA’S DREAM, A NUTCRACKER STORY Hybrid Movement Company and Dance It Up! take Clara’s tale airborne in this ambitious new version combining ballet and sophisticated aerial choreography. Fairies fly and Clara sails through the air into a land of snowflakes to join her prince in the Kingdom of Sweets. More than 100 youth join the professional company in this imaginative multimedia production. Dec. 4. $25-$30. Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, Worcester. 877-571-7469,

A CHRISTMAS TOY STORY Contrapose Dance offers an hourlong family-friendly production about a workshop full of broken toys who band together to fix each other just in time for Christmas. The show features the company and a cadre of student guest performers. Dec. 5, 3 and 5:30 p.m. $8-$12. Reading Memorial High School, Reading. 508-631-1706,

12 DANCERS DANCING . . . A CHRISTMAS IN CAMBRIDGE Honey Blonder’s annual collaborative showcase features a diverse mix of performers in this offbeat holiday show. This year’s cast includes Rainbow Tribe and B-Side, Kelley Donovan, Jim Banta, Contemporarily Out of Order, Legacy Dance Company, and guest vocalist Steffani Bennett. Dec. 17-18. $11-$17. Dance Complex, Cambridge. 617-547-9363,