Visions of gingerbread and sugar plums dance


Albany Berkshire Ballet

The dancers of the Albany Berkshire Ballet are practicing plies and trying on tutus for the annual performances of the Nutcracker ballet on Dec. 8 and 9 at the Colonial Theatre. On Sunday, catch a sneak preview of excerpts from this holiday spectacular at a Nutcracker Tea Party at 2:30 p.m. at First Church on Pittsfield's Park Square.

In Tchaikovsky's beloved ballet, a mysterious guest brings magical toys to a family party, and young Clara helps the Nutcracker Prince defeat the Mouse King and travels by sleigh to the land of the sweets, where dancers from across the world entertain her.

While an international cast of skilled professional dancers performs the principal parts, local children dance supporting roles ranging from soldiers and clowns to mini-mice and reindeer.

At Sunday's performance, Dancers from the Albany Berkshire Ballet's Junior Company and Academies of Cantarella School of Dance will join this year's Sugar Plum Fairy, Mariko Ishi gawa, who will perform her lyrical solo from the Grand Pas de Deux in Act 2.

Tickets to the tea party are $15 for adults and $10 for children aged 12 and under. Infor mation:, (413) 445-5382.

Tickets to the Nutcracker on Dec. 8 and 9: Colonial Theatre,, (413) 997-4444.

Ventfort Hall

Experience a taste of life in the heyday of the Gilded Age at 4 p.m. on Sunday with a Merry Nutcracker Bal let performance and Victorian Hol iday Tea at Ventfort Hall in Lenox.

Dancers from the American Dance Institute under the direction of Sharon MacDonald will present highlights from the classical ballet repertoire and excerpts from the Nut cracker ballet in the Great Hall, which is decked out for the holidays.

Following the performance, guests can enjoy a holiday tea with dainty sandwiches, cookies and cakes.

Tickets are $20 adults and $7 children aged 5 to 17 if reserved in advance, and $25 adults and $8 children on the day of the event. Children 4 or younger get in free. Reservations are recommended. Information:, (413) 637-3206.

Williamstown Holiday Walk

On Saturday at 4 p.m., pooches of all pedigrees will sport Santa hats and reindeer antlers and strut their stuff down Spring Street in Williamstown in the annual Reindog Parade, welcoming the merry old elf to town with an afternoon of festivities.

Musical groups including a bell choir, a capella choruses and the Flatbed Jazz Band will perform.

Take a horsedrawn carriage ride around the village, visit the old-fashioned Penny Social in Lasell Gym, enjoy face painting and children's games, and savor hot cocoa and cookies at the Berkshire Food Project Holiday Bake Off at the Log. Get into the seasonal mood with a reading of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" by Jeffrey Welch and Drew Gibson at 6 p.m. at the Log, then join in a candlelight caroling processional to the bottom of Spring Street, where Santa will light the town Christmas tree.

More decorated holiday trees will be on display from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Habitat for Humanity Tree Showcase at the 1st Congregational Church.

Kids can head to Hops & Vines on Water Street to decorate a gingerbread house, from noon to 1:30 and from 2 to 3:30 p.m. To register, call (413) 884-1372. Information: www.


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