Among the proliferation of Nutcracker ballet productions swirling around town like a snowstorm, the most polished and professional is the Los Angeles Ballet's Christmas card–perfect version. Appropriate to its hometown, artistic directors Thordal Christensen and Coleen Neary's Nutcracker is set in 1912 Southern California and, perhaps more insightfully, the company has respected the uniquely horizontal nature of this metropolis by establishing three home theaters, none of which require fighting traffic to get downtown. (In full disclosure, your scribe has followed the company's steady progress, volunteering, and sitting inside a gingerbread chimney.) With the final performances in the South Bay (and free parking!) what better way to beat the “Bah! Humbug!” California economy and post-Christmas letdown than to gather friends and family to share this balletic present to be opened early and enjoyed often.

Sat., Dec. 26, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 27, 2 p.m., 2009

LA Weekly