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The Nutcracker welcomes Calgary's newest residents

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It's a timeless holiday classic in Canada, but not everyone has had the chance to take in The Nutcracker ballet at the Jubilee Auditorium.

Alberta Ballet changed that on Thursday night.

Eighty newcomers to Canada had the opportunity to attend the play, with complimentary tickets as part of a way to be introduced to the city and feel welcome around the holidays.

"This is a tradition," said Janis Galloway, a community impact officer with Alberta Ballet. "We have families who've been coming to the Nutcracker for 20 years.

"So, to extend that experience to new Canadian families, I think it's really rewarding."

Galloway adds that the play is an opportunity for those new to Canada to be fully immersed in classic holiday traditions.

"We want them to feel connected to the community," she said.

"We want them to know that they're welcome and I think especially at this time of year, it can be really isolating for a lot of people."

The Nutcracker follows Klara and her nutcracker toy who go on a magical journey, battle the Rat Tsar's dark magic and dance with the courtiers in the palace of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

The ballet says there are 120 performers, a live orchestra, with the Jubilee stage becoming an enchanting fantasy world with performances from the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.

Oksana Hanych arrived in Calgary a month and a half ago from Lviv, Ukraine.

She along with her son were selected to take in the performance.

"I know a little bit about Nutcracker, but I haven't seen it," she said.

"I'm feel(ing) excited to. This atmosphere is very mysterious and fabulous and it is very a great time for me for my child to be here."

She says her welcome to the city has been full of happiness and support.

"In this Christmas time, we received many gifts, many presents for me and my child too, I'm very excited for this," said Hanych.

Calgary's Immigrant Women's Association (CIWA) also partnered with Alberta Ballet to help select individuals who would be the perfect fit for the program, working with women and refugees.

"Many of them this might be there first time ever in such a beautiful theater such as the Jubilee," said the association's Lindsay Bureaux.

"To be able to come here and experience it with a loved one or maybe some of their friends or peers who they're in classes with at CIWA, to be able to see the colours and the set design and the costumes and choreography, it's truly one of a kind."

Last year the newcomers took in Cinderella and now organizers are already preparing what to show at next year's event.

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