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The Nutcracker—with its sugarplum fairies, dancing snowflakes, and magical toys—is a holiday tradition for many families. But most kids can’t fully appreciate the whimsical ballet set to Tchaikovsky’s score—they’re too stuck on the name. Years ago, when a friend’s mother announced that she wanted to take a group of us to experience the timeless work, we fell into peals of laughter as soon as she was out of earshot: “The Nutcracker! We ’bout to see somebody’s nuts get cracked! NUTS!” The silliness died down in the weeks before the performance, and when the curtain rose, we were captivated—eyes wide and glassy, mouths gaping. But it wasn’t the ballet that had us transfixed—it was the constricting tights on the male dancers. “Hey,” whispered a friend sitting next to me. “I guess we know now why they really call it The Nutcracker!” The Washington Ballet performs the classic today at 2 and 7 p.m. (see City List for other times and dates) at the Warner Theatre, 1299 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. $33-$53. (202) 432-7328. (Sarah Godfrey)