FARMINGTON — Mann Dance Academy is bringing one of the nation's most popular holiday productions to Farmington.

The dance academy will hold its fourth annual production of "The Nutcracker" at 7 p.m. today and 1 p.m. Saturday at San Juan College.

"This year, we're starting to see the whole show mature," said Judy Mann, the academy's co-founder. "A lot of our dancers have gone back and studied (previous dancers). There's a lot of self-motivated learning going on as well as coaching. It's been a super fun project."

About 100 dancers are participating. Preparation began in June with the academy's Nutcracker Camp. Parts were cast in October.

"We change the show up every year with different sets and props," Mann said.

The show is as popular in Farmington as it is in the nation's larger cities. Each year, the Henderson Fine Arts Performance Hall is filled, she said.

For some dancers, this year's production is the culmination of years of practice.

Jazmine Torres, 17, is dancing the part of the Russian for Saturday's show.

"It's a lot of work," Torres said. "I've been dancing here since I was 4 years old, and it feels like I've been working since then to perform this kind of upper-level role. For me it's not just about technique. It's about what kind of story you're telling."

For others the production is a chance to try new roles and push themselves.

Cherelle Tucker, 14, tonight is dancing the part of the Dew Drop Fairy.


She also has been dancing at the academy since she was 4 years old.

"Every year we do The Nutcracker' we get to try out for new roles," Tucker said. "We're pretty much a big family. We give each other advice and push each other."

Although, The Nutcracker' has become a seasonal American tradition since the 1960s, it was not always so popular.

The ballet received tepid reviews upon its Dec. 18, 1892, world premiere in St. Petersburg, Russia. Tchaikovsky's score was almost universally praised, but the choreography was considered dull.

Today, the ballet is performed across the globe.