BalletMet Columbus celebrates the start to its Nutcracker season...

When the Shchelkunchik ballet debuted in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1892, it was a flop. One critic called the Act I party scene "ponderous" and the Grand Pas de Deux in Act II "insipid." Fast forward 120 years. Now best-known as the Nutcracker, this magical vision of a brave little girl, a rat-slaying nutcracker doll and a twinkle-toed Sugar Plum Fairy is a beloved part of many families' holiday traditions-and a budget balancer for most ballet companies. BalletMet Columbus celebrates the start to its Nutcracker season with an opening-night performance at the Ohio Theatre on Dec. 7, followed by The Nutcracker Ball on Dec. 8 at the new Hilton Columbus. This black-tie gala features food and wine, costumed characters from the ballet, and a chance to cut the rug with company dancers. The ballet continues with shows through Dec. 23.

Tickets for The Nutcracker Ball cost $800 per couple; Call 614-586-8671 to order. Tickets to the Nutcracker ballet start at $20 at BalletMet.org.