Skate club's 'Nutcracker': Thrills and chills on ice

Skate club's 'Nutcracker': Thrills and chills on ice
Robert Korycinski. and Tess Terpos exult in newfound romance in the special holiday show "Nutcracker On Ice," being presented this weekend by the Columbia Figure Skating Club. (Kim Zaruba, Courtesy of Columbia Figure Skating Club)

Here's something Howard County can brag about: It hosts the state's only "Nutcracker" holiday extravaganza on ice, perhaps even on the entire East Coast.

Presented each year by the Columbia Figure Skating Club, it's a pretty cool show in more ways than one. Dozens of darling little skaters share the ice stage with some real pros, making this a must-see family outing for all "Nutcracker" fans.

My family wouldn't ream of missing a production. I actually prefer the Sunday-before final dress rehearsal. The 2011 edition opens Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 17-18, at the Columbia Ice Rink.

The performances feature more than 80 costumed performers, ranging in age from barely 3 to definitely adult and maybe beyond.

Yes, all the familiar characters from the traditional Russian ballet are on hand in the festivities around the Christmas tree. The snow scene is always a beautiful highlight of each presentation. As it unfolds to the gorgeous Tchaikovsky score on real ice, it makes the magical story come alive in very unique ways.

Showtimes for "Nutcracker On Ice" are Dec. 17 at 5:15 and 7 p.m. and Dec. 18 at 4:30 and 6 p.m. Tickets are $12 general, free for infants 2 and younger. Advanced reservations are recommended. You can find out more at, or call 410-730-0322. And bring along a warm snuggly to keep away the chills.

A touch of Japan at Misako

While "The Nutcracker" is not yet a tradition at the Misako Ballet Center in Columbia, Misako Aoki-Oda offers a different sort of charming holiday show at her cozy upstairs studio at Joseph Square in the Village of Harper's Choice Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m.

In the past, the Misako company dancers have delighted the little ones with excerpts from classical ballets and Misako's unique spin of ballet tinged with an Asian touch.

A free studio concert will be held at the studio Dec. 27 at 1 p.m. Children from the audience will have an opportunity to learn a dance and then perform it. This is a terrific introduction to the world of ballet, from a different perspective. Call 410-884-9690 or go to

Capital treats for Kids

"You're Home for the Holidays" is the theme of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts during its range of winter wonderland performances.

Just down the road from the newly installed Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Kennedy Center is a wonderful place to visit during the holidays. For kids, the free events each night (except Christmas) on the Millennium Stage bring together artists from all genres.

"Billy Elliot the Musical," winner of 10 Tony Awards including Best Musical, continues in the Opera House through Jan. 15. Some of the talented kids and other cast members will perform for free on the Millennium Stage during the opening week.

Tickets for "Billy Elliott" can be had for as low as $25. Though the show is recommended for those over 12, it's a heartwarming celebration of one boy's struggle to make his dreams come true.

The awesome novelty band known as the Macaroons explore such matters as what's inside a mezuzah, and what should you do if you drop a matzoh ball on the ground? Between answering such dilemmas, the band offers big harmonies and irresistible melodies that young ones will love and parents will appreciate. See them on the Millennium Stage on the first night of Hanukkah.

Back by popular demand, "Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical" (a Kennedy Center commission) will delight all ages at the Center's Family Theater, Dec. 17-Jan. 8. Take it from me, this is a wonderful show for little ones.

Folks of all ages should enjoy Handel's "Messiah" at the Concert Hall through this weekend. Tickets start at $20, and are available by calling 800-444-1324.

And who wouldn't enjoy ringing in the New Year with the National Symphony Orchestra? Tickets for the grand night start at $50. And, as a bonus for attending any New Year's Eve event at the Kennedy Center, you're welcome to join the party in the Grand Foyer.

Greet the arrival of 2012 in style, with classical offerings, waltzing to music by the Salon Orchestra of Washington and swing dancing to music until 1 a.m. Expect a big balloon and confetti countdown at midnight.