"Scenes from the Nutcracker," an abbreviated version of the Tchaikovsky holiday classic, returns this Christmas season to the Darien Arts Center.

The presentation, approximately an hour long with narration, is particularly designed to introduce youngsters to the ballet. Children are allowed to sit close to the performers and are invited to meet the characters afterwards.

Six performances are planned at the DAC over the weekend of Dec. 19-21.

"The Nutcracker was written for children," Bonnie Gombos, the arts center's dance director and show choreographer, said in a news release publicizing the production. "It's a fabulous adventure that also exposes audiences to different kinds of dancing and it's a great opportunity to spark an interest in dance. The original version is just a bit long for little ones, so we've adapted `Scenes from the Nutcracker' keeping them in mind."

This year's production features new dances, characters and costumes, according to the arts center.

Geoff Gilbert of Darien is featured as the narrator, a role created to move the story along quickly

DAC ballet student Eva Larino performs as Clara, who receives a magical Nutcracker doll for Christmas, and Ashley Cassetta and Juliette Dixon share the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. The dances consist of members from the DAC dance department's junior, senior and adult companies.

"Scenes from the Nutcracker" will be performed at the Darien Arts Center's Weatherstone Studio at 2 Renshaw Road, behind Town Hall.

Show times are: Friday, Dec. 19, at 6 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 20, at 11 a.m. and 2 and 5 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 21, at noon and 3 p.m. Tickets are $10. Reservations are recommended. Call the DAC box office at 203-655-5414 or email Bonnie@darienarts.org for reservations.