MAINE STATE BALLET begins Portland’s holiday entertainment with eight performances of “The Nutcracker” at Merrill Auditorium beginning Friday. Maine State presents the original classic production, set in early 19th-century Germany, featuring Clara, Fritz, Uncle Drosselmeyer and other familiar characters, with authorized choreography by George Balanchine and other choreography by Maine State Ballet artistic director Linda MacArthur Miele.

The performance includes live music from the Maine State Ballet Orchestra, conducted by Carla M. Kelley Brenner, accompanied by the Maine State Ballet Choir. The production features 30 members of Maine State’s dance company and 300 dancers from across southern Maine.

Maine State Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” Merrill Auditorium, Portland; 2 p.m. Friday; 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26; 7 p.m. Dec. 1; 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 2; and 2 p.m. Dec. 3; $21 to $66; or 842-0800

PORTLAND BALLET returns with “The Victorian Nutcracker,” a variation of the classic ballet that is set in Victorian-era Portland with sets and costumes inspired by the Victoria Mansion. This production features the professional dancers of Portland Ballet alongside a cast of youths from across the area, with music by the Portland Ballet Orchestra conducted by the University of Southern Maine’s Robert Lehmann.

Portland Ballet presents the show at Merrill Auditorium and the Westbrook Performing Arts Center, and excerpts at the Victoria Mansion, the Portland Public Library and the Dunaway Center in Ogunquit.

Portland Ballet will perform excerpts from “The Victorian Nutcracker,” at First Friday Art Walk, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 1, Portland Public Library, free; and at 3 p.m. Dec. 3, Dunaway Center, 23 School St., Ogunquit, $5 at the door. It will perform “Night of the Nutcracker” at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 3 and 10 at the Victoria Mansion, 109 Danforth St., Portland, $16 adults, The full production will be performed at 2 p.m. Dec. 16-17, Westbrook Performing Arts Center, 471 Stroudwater St.; $39 and $45 through porttix; and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 22, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 23 at Merrill Auditorium, Portland; $23 to $58, also through porttix.