By Nicole Brewer

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For the Philadelphia region, it’s a holiday tradition: George Balanchine’s ‘The Nutcracker,’ brought to life by the Pennsylvania Ballet.

It’s a Christmas classic that is perfected in a practice room, where 60 performers pirouette and plie, again and again.

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Lauren Fadeley, a principal dancer says, “We have a lot of rehearsals to make sure we’re ready to go and we practice every day, we take class every morning.”

Fadeley plays the Sugar Plum Fairy, light on her feet, hard on her body.

“You sit down and you feel great, but then it’s the standing back up after. You just can’t get back up. It’s tough, but the joys of performing for an audience is so much more.”

Staying on point requires plenty of practice. By opening night, the dancers will have logged over 200 hours.

The dancers say it’s worth it, especially when they see the looks on children’s faces.

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Fadeley says, “It’s the best feeling ever. It brings you back to when I was that age and I remember the ballerinas doing Sugar Plum and wanting to be that one day, so it’s really nice to be that role model now.”

Ian Hussey also started out as one in the crowd.

“Back in 1993, I came and saw Pennsylvania Ballet do ‘The Nutcracker’ and that next year, I was performing as a kid in ‘The Nutcracker’ here in Philadelphia.”

These days, he knows his way around the theater and backstage, where there are close to 200 costumes, including the Mouse King.

The Pennsylvania Ballet’s performances of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker begin Friday, December 11 at the Academy of Music.

The show runs until December 31.

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