With an ever-changing twist on holiday tradition, the Carolina Ballet Theatre’s performance of “The Nutcracker: Once Upon a Time in Greenville” once again brings special guests to the stage to offer something for everyone – even those who think they don’t like ballet.

The show, adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” is Greenville-specific and will be presented Dec. 22 – 23 at the Peace Center.

“Traditionally, there’s ‘The Nutcracker’ we are all familiar with,” Marie Blough, CBT’s board president, said. “One of the things our artistic director did years ago was to introduce a Greenville version. That’s something Greenville has become accustomed to.”

This version features local landmarks, like Mice on Main.

“Two years ago, we thought about how we could get audiences who would never come interested in coming to see the ballet,” Blough said.

Last year, Tahj Boyd, professional football player and former Clemson standout, took the stage. A new audience followed.

“After they watched him and the dancers, they commented that they had no idea that it was so athletic,” Blough said.

Blough said CBT actively seeks an inclusive environment. This year, that involves more athletes – this time, including former NFL players through the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame – and students from the Meyer Center for Special Children.

“The mission of CBT is to make meaningful dance available and accessible to all,” Blough said.

In addition to providing educational performances of its fall and spring shows, the organization will present “Black & Beautiful, A Tribute to African American Dancers” in February and a community event focused on mental illness in May.

But first, it’s time for more than a little Christmas spirit.

“From a performance standpoint, we have over 150 members in the production,” Blough said. “It’s a very large group.”

That group includes a diverse range of performers, including different levels of student performers, professional dancers and guest dancers, all with new costumes, sets and backdrops this year. Opening night will feature guest artists Herman Cornejo, principal at American Ballet Theater, and his sister, Erica Cornejo, principal at Boston Ballet.

“There will be a whole new stage experience,” Blough said.

To purchase tickets, visit

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