For your dose of fantasy ballet this Christmas season, skip the brave nutcracker and take warmth from the embers in the fireplace in Cinderella, the Royal Ballet's stunning production set to Prokofiev's score. The show marks the 100th birthday of the late Sir Frederick Ashton, the company's founding choreographer. His incomparable staging at the Royal Opera House combines pratfalling pantomime and refined classical dance. The mix of characters (notably two hell-on-wheels ugly stepsisters, played by men) and poetic visions (especially of the virginal Cinderella and her good-fairy protectors) is ballet at its best. With the swallow-swift Alina Cojocaru and kittenish Darcey Bussell alternating in the title role, the timeless tale truly sparkles. December 2-January 14;
—Rbert Greskovic