Dancers from around the world meeting Sugar Plum Fairy at the carousel in “The Nutcracker.” (Sharen Bradford/Aspen Santa Fe Ballet)

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet is kicking off the holiday season with the classic, “The Nutcracker” on Dec. 17-18 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco St., in Santa Fe.

“This show obviously revolves around a girl named Clara who was gifted a nutcracker for Christmas by her uncle,” said Kathleen Reed, marketing associate at Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. “Then, she is swept into this dream world where this Nutcracker saved her from an evil Rat King and then they journey into the land of sweets where a lot of dancers from around the world greet them.”

The performance returns after a two-year hiatus.

“The last time we put this on was 2019, so we had to kind of put everything on hold for obvious reasons,” Reed said. “That was all productions, from the ‘Nutcracker,’ to our school recitals to all of the companies that we bring in throughout the year, to our own personal ballet company that performs around the world, everything was kind of put on hold for the past two seasons.”

The “Nutcracker” will have a diverse cast of over 100 performers with dancers from around the world alongside students from Aspen Santa Fe Ballet School.

“It is a big puzzle piece as a lot of these dancers already have their routines down pat as they have done that probably a million times,” Reed said. “So the first bit of the show is put on by our kids and then we hire these professionals from around the country to do the more professional pieces, so it’s a puzzle piece.”

Leaping Jack-in-the-box performing at the Stahlbaum Christmas party in a scene from “The Nutcracker.” (Sharen Bradford/Aspen Santa Fe Ballet )

This year’s show will feature New York City ballet performers Brittany Pollack and Peter Walker.

Having dancers from all over was crucial for Aspen Sante Fe Ballet.

“You have to decide in early summer if you want to go ahead and move forward with this production because we take in professionals from around the world,” Reed said. “We decided to bring this on because ‘Nutcracker’ is such a shining jewel during the holiday season and it just doesn’t feel like the holidays without it.”

Reed said the “Nutcracker” is a timeless classic for the holiday season.

“I have always been really tall for my age, so I was always cast as a party boy, when I did ‘Nutcracker’ and I always fell in love with the party scene,” Reed said. “It is the one that is the most grounded in reality and it’s got a bunch of different movements and it just feels most like Christmas to me.”

New to this “Nutcracker” are Ukrainian and Mexican divertissements joining the celebration of international cultural dance, including traditional Chinese and Spanish flamenco dances.