EDMONTON -- One of the holiday season’s most enduring artistic performances has begun at the Jubilee Auditorium with Alberta Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker.

A family favourite, the mystical story presented on stage continues to attract new, young enthusiasts, says the company’s artistic director.

“When children leave the theatre, or even during intermission, they’re spinning and dancing, and they’re so excited," Jean Grand Maître told CTV News Edmonton.

“It's important to teach children that we can do beautiful things and that we can be optimistic, this time of year especially.”

One of the children captivated by Alberta Ballet’s Nutcracker many years ago now dances with the company.

Garrett Groat grew up in Edmonton, watched from the audience, and first performed in the show as a young dancer at the age of nine. After joining the company full time at age 19, he now has ten seasons of The Nutcracker on his resume. He’s encouraged by the large number of boys he sees filling those junior rolls today.

“There’s four or five boys and its amazing to see that,” he said. “This is the new generation... And it's so cool to see.”

More than 60 children from local ballet programs are found within the company, with some as young as five years old filling a diverse range of roles.

Grand Maître believes the timeless quality of the show is rooted in its exceptional music.

“Then there’s Tchaikovsky’s score, which I think is the greatest ballet score ever written,” he commented.

“And for our dancers, we teach them each four different rolls, so every night they have a different show, which keeps it fresh.”

Alberta Ballet will perform The Nutcracker over 40 times in venues across the country, with seven shows presented to Edmonton audiences until Dec. 8.

With a report from CTV Edmonton's Graham Neil