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‘Nutcracker’ features stars from American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet

Snow scene from the “Nutcracker.” (Courtesy of Randy Talley)

Snow scene from the “Nutcracker.” (Courtesy of Randy Talley)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Ballet Company is leaping into the holidays with the story of Clara and her prince in “The Nutcracker” with the New Mexico Philharmonic.

This year’s program features stars from the American Ballet Theatre as well as the New York City Ballet, with new choreography and familiar fairy tale sets and costumes, artistic director Natalie Harris said. Performances will be Sunday through Dec. 6 at the University of New Mexico’s Popejoy Hall.

The new Albuquerque-raised director slipped into her first toe shoes and danced with the company before wider audiences beckoned. Harris won a full scholarship to New York’s Joffrey Ballet School and worked as their touring company manager before an injury drove her home. As she recovered, she began teaching until the offer arrived.

“The New Mexico Ballet was always like home,” she said.

The ABT’s Christine Shevchenko and Alexandre Hammoudi will perform on Saturday and Sunday during Thanksgiving weekend.

“They are beautiful dancers,” Harris said, “very classically technically oriented. She’s very petite but very meticulous with her dancing.”

The City Ballet’s Teresa Reichlen and Tyler Angle will join the troupe on Dec. 5-6.

“The have beautiful technique, flawless artistry,” Harris said, “I get tongue-tied when I watch them.”

This year’s Clara, Emma Cilke, is just 10 years old.

“Typically, we would use someone from 14 to 16,” Harris said. “It almost brings back the innocence of the story. It’s not so much a love story, but more of a magical adventure. We still have the same beautiful sets and beautiful costumes with the pyrotechnics everybody seems to love.”