It's an old, yet new, holiday tradition. For decades "The Nutcracker" has been part of holiday celebrations.

This year, the traditional ballet will be staged at Bethel College — the first production of a new organization called "Newton Dance Connections."

"This is the first time dance studios in the area have ever worked together on a production, and we plan on continuing the collaborations as Newton Dance Connections in the future," said Kari Hinkel, owner of Newton Performing Arts Center, a dance studio in Newton.

Her studio, which teaches dance out of a space at the Chisholm Trail Retail Center and Outlet Shops on SE 36th, partnered with the Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts to create Newton Dance Connections. With both organizations feeding into the performance, more than 100 people were cast into the production.

That number is a fulfillment of the mission of the organization.

"The cast includes children ages five through 18, preprofessional college students from the Newton area, and even adults," Hinkel said. "The mission of NDC is to bring performance opportunities to local dancers and promote dance in the community."

The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

The Nutcracker is based on the story "The Nutcracker and the King of Mice" written by E.T.A. Hoffman.  Although what is seen on the stage today is different in detail from the original story, the basic plot remains the same — the story of a young German girl who dreams of a Nutcracker Prince and a fierce battle against a Mouse King with seven heads. 

For the Newton production, auditions were held in August. Practices have been ongoing as dancers prepare for three performances spanning two days Dec. 15 and 16. Tickets for the show, which will be in the Luyken Fine Arts Center at Bethel College, start at $10 for adults and $8 for youth.