by John Tarpley
What's Christmas without the graceful surrealism of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Rat King and a brigade of tin soldiers? Not the same, that's what. It's a tradition of the highest caliber that's kept alive for another year by the Ballet Arkansas company, who once again turn the Robinson Center Music Hall into a gilded, 19th-century parlor for another trip to "The Nutcracker." On its surface, the Tchaikovsky-scored classic is a puzzling trip down the rabbit hole with mice, magic, Russian rats and wolves. But the famous, elegant balletic movement within is what keeps the crowds coming and the eyes wide. "The Nutcracker" cracks again the next day at 3 p.m. after a "Nutcracker Tea" at the Peabody Hotel at 1 p.m. For tickets, call the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra box office at 666-1761 or visit arkansassymphony.org.