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Great Performances: Dance In America: San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker

Airs Monday, December 21, 2009 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Vanessa Zahorian (center), as the Sugar Plum Fairy, is joined by students of the San Francisco Ballet School.

Since the first production of "The Nutcracker" in St. Petersburg more than a century ago, its charming story, dazzling choreography and magnificent Tchaikovsky score have combined to make it one of the most popular and enduring ballets the world over.

Maria Kochetkova and Davit Karapetyan dance the Grand Pas de Deux.
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Above: Maria Kochetkova and Davit Karapetyan dance the Grand Pas de Deux.

San Francisco Ballet makes the beloved ballet its own, resetting it during the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exhibition and introducing “Dance in America” viewers to the dazzling Maria Kochetkova and Davit Karapetyan.

The work is choreographed by artistic director Helgi Tomasson and features dazzling sets by Michael Yeargan and opulent costumes by Martin Pakledinaz, both Tony Award-winning designers. Olympic champion figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi hosts. Watch a preview.