Watching the fantastic fever dream that is the new “Nutcracker” by Ballet Quad Cities on Friday morning at the Adler Theatre got me thinking of one of my favorite songs from “A Chorus Line.”

“Everything was beautiful at the ballet. Graceful men lift lovely girls in white,” goes the refrain of “At the Ballet” in the landmark 1975 Broadway musical. And as it usually is, literally EVERYTHING is beautiful at “The Nutcracker” as performed by the dazzling, drop-dead gorgeous professional dancers of our local company.

A scene from Ballet Quad Cities’ “The Nutcracker.”

For the first time in several years, I was privileged to sit in on the annual student matinee Friday, where over 1,900 QC 3rd-graders had the immense pleasure of witnessing this spectacular holiday spectacle, for free. I hope they know how lucky they are and that this memory will last a lifetime.

I grew up in Milwaukee (a sizably larger city with a stellar ballet company as well), but I don’t remember the Milwaukee Ballet ever offering something like this for public-school students. Not only has Ballet QC done “The Nutcracker” for 3rd graders for well over 25 years (my son Alex got to be in a 2001 production at the Capitol Theatre), they also send dancers into every school in Davenport and Rock Island beforehand, to teach the kids about the classic 1892 Tchaikovsky ballet, including dancing with them to musical excerpts.

One of the highlights of the Friday, Dec. 9 performance (with a pre-recorded orchestral soundtrack, unlike this weekend, with the live Orchestra Iowa) was hearing many of the kids audibly gasp with glee upon first seeing the artificial snow fall on the Adler stage.

A scene from The Land of Snow in “The Nutcracker.”

That last scene of the first act is my favorite of “The Nutcracker,” in the enchanting Land of Snow, and the thousands of bits of white paper drift delicately down starting with the dance of the Snow Queen and King, Madeleine Rhode and Christian Knopp, against the bewitching backdrop of snow-laden trees.

The shimmering snowflakes are artfully embodied by Eleanor Ambler, Ruby Anderson, Sierra DeYoung, Madeline Kreszenz, Madeline McLaughlin, Isabelle Millet, Kira Roberts, and Mahalia Zellmer. This breathtaking scene is so beautiful and a perfect emblem of the season.

A scene from the Land of Snow at the Adler, Dec. 9, 2022.

This entire “Nutcracker” is just perfection — an elusive quality in our world today, it almost makes me cry. But even though these crazily talented dancers (led by the first-class choreography of artistic director Courtney Lyon and additional dances by Emily Kate Long) make it look effortless and light as air, ballet is a punishingly demanding art. Their grace, athleticism, and poise are all a wonder to behold.

The new cast is strongly headed by BQC veterans Claire Cordano as protagonist Clara and Nicholas Bartolotti as the title character, who becomes a dashing prince and invites her to his literally enchanted kingdom.

Nick Bartolotti and Claire Cordano as “The Nutcracker” Prince and Clara.

The opening Christmas party scene is dominated by the great company veteran Domingo Rubio, who is the magical Drosselmeyer and briefly calls to mind his past BQC devilish turns as Dracula, as he stylishly turns his cape. The battle scene — with dancing rats, mice, and soldiers, complete with sword fight — is exciting.

The “Nutcracker” second act is a veritable greatest hits of ballet, as a colorful parade of guest dancers from around the world perform for and with Clara and the Prince.

The Arabian Dance is performed by Jillian Van Cura.

After angels hypnotize us with very neat hand-held light effects, we’re mesmerized by the Spanish dance of Kira Roberts and Christian Knopp; haunting and sexy Arabian dance of Jillian Cura; large fan Chinese dance of Madeline Kreszenz, with area student dancers Nora Burns, Vivika Gonzalez, Ava Kruse, and Grace Lane; followed by the quick, fun, energetic Ukrainian dance; mirlitons, gingerbread cookies, and the immortal Waltz of the Flowers.

The Dance of the Mirlitons by Eleanor Ambler, Sierra DeYoung and Madeleine Rhode at the Adler, Dec. 9, 2022.

That last one was arguably most impressive, since the collection of dancers seemed the most uniform in their coordinated choreography, amazingly mirroring each other’s movements.

When Cordano embodies the ethereal Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the two-minute glittering jewel is an ideal realization of the school description of the dance — “She’s magical and she walks like she’s walking on a cloud. It looks almost like she’s floating.”

Claire Cordano dances the Sugar Plum Fairy from “The Nutcracker” at the Adler, Dec. 9, 2022.

Brimming with sophistication, elegance and playfulness, this “Nutcracker” is consistently magical and should not be missed. It’s a visual and sonic feast, and there’s a reason it’s a beloved QC holiday tradition.

It will be performed at the Adler (accompanied by Orchestra Iowa, 136 E. 3rd St.., Davenport) on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 11 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $20, $17, and $11 for children 12 and under; $14-$32 for students and seniors, and $18-$36 for adults.

For tickets and more information, visit the Ballet QC website. For more photos of the production, see the gallery below.