Itâs hardly snowing, your neighborâs Christmas lights are a lot merrier than yours, and you havenât put up a wreath on your door. Letâs face it – you were not in the jolly holiday mood. However, last weekend, the graceful performance of the Nutcracker switched your mood. Starting with its opening in 1980, the Robert Thomas Dancenterâs production of the Nutcracker at CY Stephens celebrated its 31st anniversary of the annual performance. In recent years, the Nutcracker has become a central part of the holiday tradition for many families in Ames and across central Iowa. Junior Liz Mullenâs family has been a part of it from the very beginning. âI have the privilege of getting to be a part of this performance with my sisters and mom, which is really cool,â Mullen said. âWe’ve all been in Nutcracker since 2005–my mom was also in the very first Nutcracker Ballet production in 1981 and several times after until starting again with my sisters and I.â However, the Nutcracker was not always well known in the U.S. The familiar and beloved play was originally adapted by Alexandre Dumas. The Nutcracker ballet got off to a shaky start. Its first show in 1892 was a complete disaster. Later, it was put together with the timeless music of Peter Tchaikovsky. It has since become a cherished, unshakable holiday tradition, with ballet performances on every continent during the holiday season. The hard work and dedication of the dancers is what makes the ballet successful. The dancers usually have a warm up class for one hour at 4:30 p.m. Then they do a program run-through that goes until 10 p.m. or even 1 a.m. from Monday through Thursday. âNutcracker hours are brutal, and they go super late,â senior Peri Jacobsen said. â[But] I look forward to it every year. I love dancing it and spending that time with my dance girls.â âI’m sad its my last year,â Jacobsen said. âI will miss all of the beautiful dancers and all the memories. We are all very close and that makes the experience 100x better.â With so many enthusiastic dancers, it would be hard for the show to be anything but good. âThe week of Nutcracker is one of my favorite weeks during the year. Performing on stage at CY Stephens in the Nutcracker is one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had,â junior Liz Mullen said. Last weekend, the show a great hit once again. Although this yearâs Nutcracker performances have passed, you can still appreciate the magic of the show anytime. When youâre feeling a little out of the holiday mood, blast Tchaikovsky from your speakers, close your eyes and picture the scenes of the famed ballet.