Under the artistic direction of Cassandra Crowley, Canton Ballet will present its sparkling holiday showpiece The Nutcracker, sponsored by Kenan Advantage Group, in four performances Dec. 9-11 at Canton's Palace Theatre. Performance times are Friday, 7:30 pm; Saturday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, 2 p.m.

International guest artist Boyko Dossev of Boston and Canton Ballet dancer Erika Shi of Alliance will perform the roles of Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. Canton Ballet dancers Tamaki Hoshi and Cameron Catazaro Hayward will dance the roles on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.

Canton Mayor Tom and Bebe Bernabei will perform as guests at the party in Act I for all four performances. The Bernabeis' four grandchildren are in the production cast.

Dossev received gold medals from The National Ballet Competition in 1997 and the Varna International Ballet Competition in 2002. He has danced with Jeune Ballet France in Paris, Hamburg Ballet under the direction of John Neumeier, Dresden State Ballet-Semperoper Dresden and Boston Ballet.

Canton Ballet has offered its audience favorite since its first public performance in 1968. The tale of The Nutcracker, written by E.T.A. Hoffman in 1816, has fascinated and inspired artists, composers and audiences for almost 200 years.

One of the brightest stars on Northeast Ohio's annual holiday scene, Canton Ballet's The Nutcracker is presented in lavish sets and glittering costumes to the gorgeous music of Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky with choreography by Crowley, choreographer in residence Angelo Lemmo and former assistant artistic director Carol Hageman.

In two acts, The Nutcracker tells the story of a Christmas Eve in 1860 at the home of young Clara and her family during their holiday party. The mysterious magician Drosselmeyer makes a surprise visit and presents Clara with a very special Nutcracker doll. Thus begins the amazing journey of Clara and her Nutcracker prince--from a frenzied battle between life-sized toy soldiers and mice through the Land of Snow to the Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Reserved seat tickets may be purchased online at cantonballet.com and in person or by telephone at 330-455-7220 at the ballet box office in the west wing of the Canton Cultural Center for the Arts, 1001 Market Avenue North in Canton. Office hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. The office is closed on Fridays and Sundays. Use the Cleveland Avenue entrance.

The Palace Theatre is located at 605 Market Ave. North in the downtown Canton Arts District. There is a wheelchair seating area on the main floor.

The theatre box office opens one hour before performance times for advance purchase pickups and walkup sales only. Ticket purchase in advance is recommended for this popular event.