December brings with it the vision of sugarplums dancing in our children's heads. Over the last decade the Connecticut Dance School has been performing "The Nutcracker," and I recommended it to families.

Not only is the ballet a stirring story filled with graceful dancing and memorable music, but it is a moving story with action, romance, adventure and more than a little holiday magic. The school's production at Fairfield University's Quick Center for the Arts is frequently the visiting students' first exposure to live theater outside their schools.

The students and parents adore working on this presentation and commit themselves to this year after year, from repairing costumes, to creating the program, soliciting donations and dancing some parts that require adult participation. At least one senior, who dances today at the Kirov in Washington, D.C., comes back to rehearse over Thanksgiving and returns for the performances. My own daughter, Maggie, is making her fifth consecutive appearance.

This demonstrates a level of caring and commitment from the school's parents and students to The Nutcracker which results in an annual performance that is second to none in our state.

Connecticut Dance School also gives back. For the past 10 years, the school has shared its production with more than 1,500 Bridgeport elementary school students as its gift for the holidays. As one Bridgeport teacher said, "For many of them, getting excited about the holidays is difficult, yet, CDS has proven each season that the holidays are real and affordable for everyone." Another teacher observed, "At the end of the performance, the dancers line up to say thanks for coming to the students. This is one of the best parts of the inner city and suburban experience, students coming together; it gives the performers the opportunity to meet inner city peers."

Families in Fairfield would certainly get the same enjoyment by attending a performance this month, and I hope that you will.

Heather Dean