Clara, one of ballet’s most beloved characters and the star of ‘The Nutcracker,’ returns to Corvallis on Thursday, Nov. 18. (Contributed photo)

CORVALLIS — The list of life’s guarantees was recently revised. It currently reads: death, taxes and “The Nutcracker” during holiday season.

Falling in line with a local tradition that spans across decades, Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet will again hit the stage at LaSells Stewart Center on the Oregon State University campus on Thursday, Nov. 18. It will showcase one of the country’s most treasured traditions while lending the spotlight to dozens of local children in their various roles for the Eugene Ballet Company’s production.

We are a nation that holds its holiday customs sacred, be it the Grinch on TV or gravy on our turkey. “The Nutcracker” on stage is as revered as any ritual.

“It’s hard to explain, but I think it’s the familiarity and the traditional aspect that people cling to so passionately,” said Megan Skinner, the director of the Corvallis Academy of Ballet. “We keep coming back for more every year.”

The Eugene Ballet Company will tote 21 of its professional dancers to Corvallis for the performance, which is the start of a six-week tour that includes pit stops in California, Idaho, Washington and Alaska.

Many of the names and faces have changed since last year’s show, but there is never a shortage of kids eager to audition or spectators champing at the bit to buy a ticket. Old habits die hard.

“Every kid wants to be Clara or a sugarplum fairy, and we can’t tear ourselves away from it,” Skinner said. “It’s a part of who we are.”

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