This Christmas' offering of dance shows is enough to make us jump for joy.
Set to a joyful score by Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker is the quintessential Christmas ballet treat. This year there are two live productions in town: Wayne Eagling's production for English National Ballet's is the patchier of the two. The delightful opening sequence with its ice-skating partygoers is a festive treat in itself, and a hot air balloon ride adds a touch of magic to the sweetie vignettes of Act 2; although there are moments of narrative confusion when Clara transforms from a child into an adult dancer and the Nutcracker Prince can't seem to make up his mind as to whether he's Clara's cousin or not. An enduringly popular curate's nut of a production, this year's performances run at the London Coliseum from 11 December - 5 January (tickets from £14).
A more traditional Nutcracker — David Bintley's production for Birmingham Royal Ballet — plays at the Albert Hall from 28-31 December (tickets from £30). This sumptuous production with its Christmas tree special effects and armies of mice and soldiers has Victorian spectacle coming out the wazzoo and makes a perfect post-Christmas treat for the family.
The Royal Ballet is not bringing its much-loved Nutcracker to the stage this winter, but there is a film screening of the Royal's production by Sir Peter Wright showing at the Barbican on 17 December only (tickets £21, concessions available). The Royal's live Christmas offering this year is The Sleeping Beauty, a festive coming-of-age fairy tale adored by balletomanes young and old with all the tutus, tiaras and fancy footwork that belong on the stage at this time of year. At the Royal Opera House, 7 November - 16 January, tickets from £45; or catch a cinema broadcast near you on 16 January.
Contemporary Christmas dance: The Red Shows, The Little Match Girl, The Snowman
If you've had your fill of nuts and fairies, there are other dance options in town this Christmas. Over at Sadler's Wells, Matthew Bourne's New Adventures takes up its traditional December residence with The Red Shoes, an award-winning neoclassical reimagining of the Powell and Pressburger of the same name. Darker in tone than most seasonal offerings, it lays bare the passion and obsession that drives the dance world, helped along by opulent design by Lez Brotherston. At Sadler's Wells from 3 December - 19 January, tickets from £15.
For younger dance fans, the Lilian Baylis Theatre sees the return of Arthur Pita's beautifully imaginative retelling of The Little Match Girl (11-29 December, tickets £18/£12).
Perennial favourite The Snowman is also back in residence at the Peacock Theatre in Holborn, 21 November-5 January, tickets from £22.
Roll up, roll up for Circus 1903
For something a little different, roll up and head on down to the Southbank for Circus 1903, a child-friendly Barnum-esque vintage travelling circus with death-defying human acts and cruelty-free animal puppets. Expect classic circus magic, with juggling, acrobatics, tightrope and trapeze. Spills, thrills and skills can be found at the Royal Festival Hall from 19 December - 5 January, tickets from £22.
If you're in the mood for something completely different, The Place is hosting Collaborations, its annual celebration of student work in which London Contemporary Dance School students work with designers from Wimbledon College of Arts, composers from Guildhall School of Music & Drama or Moving Image students from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. There are often highly imaginative and entertaining ideas on display. The platform as a whole runs from 5-13 December, with individual nights given over to music, film and design. Tickets £15/£10.
Whatever your taste, we're sure there's a cracker of a production on the London stage this December.