New England Academy of Dance and New England Dance Theater's production of "The Nutcracker" ballet, now in its 29th year, will be presented in three full-length performances at New Canaan High School this weekend.

This year's dancers range in age from 7 to 18 years old.

"We love this show," Kristin Davies, the New Canaan High School senior who will dance the role of Clara, said in publicity for the event.

Emily Meyer, the senior who will dance several roles in the production, including the Dew Drop Fairy, said, "Every show is special, but this audience is so full of anticipation. It is incredibly rewarding to perform for children who may be experiencing ballet for the very first time."

The public is invited to attend any of three full-length "Nutcracker" shows at 7 p.m. Friday and at 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. There is also a special "Act-II-Only" show designed for younger children at 11 a.m. Saturday.

In addition, the group will perform a benefit who at 1 p.m. Sunday for organizations dedicated to helping underprivileged families and children. NEAD and NEDT have donated over $25,000 worth of Nutcracker tickets to organizations such as Malta House, Person to Person and Kids in Crisis, who will distribute these tickets to their clients, families and children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience a live classical ballet performance.

"It is part of our mission, as a pre-professional ballet school, to give back to the community where we live and work," Ginna Ortiz, co-director of the production, said in the release. "Our dancers are delighted to offer the gift of their time and talent to bring the magic of classical ballet to this audience."

"The Nutcracker" is based on the book "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" by E.T.A. Hoffman. Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky wrote the music for the ballet during the early 1890s, near the end of his life.

For ticket information, visit www.neadance.com or call 203-972-3265.