TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – “Nutcracker,” the popular holiday tradition that dates back more than a hundred years, is being presented at The Straz Center starting this Friday.

“Nutcracker” is a family-friendly production that tells the story of a girl named Clara who befriends a nutcracker that turns into a prince who later battles the evil Mouse King.

“I think ‘Nutcracker’ is many people’s first exposure to ballet. It was to me when I was 10 years old and I fell so in love with it, I made a career out of it,” Next Generation Ballet Artistic Director Philip Neal said.

About 150 dancers, some as young six years old, have been rehearsing since September for this week’s performance.

“Like any sport, they are rehearsing and dancing all day long, sometimes up to 10 hours a day,” Neal said.

The show will feature dancers from Next Generation Ballet, the Straz’s official dance company, and from American Ballet Theatre, which is based in New York.

The Straz Center is a not-for profit organization that works toward making the arts accessible to everyone in the community. Several young dancers who are a part of Next Generation Ballet have benefitted from the organization.

“We have a lot of scholarship opportunities for them. Some of it is merit-based, some of it is financial need based but it really empowers students to pursue a professional career.

“Nutcracker” will be performed Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 6 p.m. You can find more information about buying tickets on the Straz Center’s website.