It’s reminiscent of David and Goliath: One of the world’s great ballet companies, the Kirov, arrives with its orchestra and an all-stops-out production of The Nutcracker in direct competition with a swarm of lesser-funded local productions — particularly the elegant production from L.A.’s blossoming professional Los Angeles Ballet. It’s no secret that revenues from The Nutcracker performances pay for what ballet companies do the rest of the year. So there is something counterintuitive in recommending that L.A. audiences buy tickets to see touring productions of The Nutcracker — it encourages ballet’s equivalent of this country’s trade imbalance. Even so, the Kirov remains a magnificent company with extraordinary dancers and well worth watching but perhaps in addition to seeing one of the excellent local companies that will give back with other dance concerts in the months to come. With audience support, local companies can compete even without the significant government funding Russian ballet companies enjoy. Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Wed.-Sat., Dec. 17-20, 7:30 p.m., Thurs. & Sat., Dec. 18 & 20, 2 p.m., $30-$120. (213) 365-3500 or

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