The artistically-created nutcrackers you see in the stores are so impractical. I mean, really ... just who cracks nuts with them? And what would happen to a pricey Steinbach nutcracker if you put a nut in place and pulled the lever? Ahhh, I don't want to know. It's much less tragic to think about that good ol' classic story of The Nutcracker, filled with unworldly characters, magic and sweets. That's where North Carolina Dance Theatre comes in. It's set to present a night of merriment with performances of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux's Nutcracker, which is set to music scores from the Charlotte Symphony. $10-$20. Dec. 21, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. 704-372-1000. www.ncdance.org.