Locals Dancing Through the Season
• Delta Festival Ballet of New Orleans will present The Nutcracker on Fri. and Sat., Dec. 22-23. Delta’s three performances will be held at Dixon Hall, located at Tulane University. The theater at Dixon will provide a smaller, more intimate atmosphere than the Festival’s previous location at Mahalia Jackson Theatre of Performing Arts, whMARQUEEich has not yet reopened. Chris Kim will conduct the ballet, and this year’s Sugar Plum Fairy will be native New Orleanian, Janessa Touchet. Other New Orleans natives will be joining her – including Jaqueline Reyes and Tobin Eason, who will perform the “Waltz of the Flowers” and husband and wife, Ian Carney and Eleanor who will perform the Arabian pas de deux. Information 888-0931

• Crescent Lotus Dance studio embraces all types of cultures and dances, and after relocating in mid-Nov. to a studio in the Uptown area, they will continue to host Belly Dance, Dance Meditation and a variety of other forms of movement. Those who are curious about can sign up for long sessions (usually 8 weeks) or they can take part in a “lagniappe” three week- session that focuses intently on one area or technique. On Dec. 5, a barefoot flamenco class will be offered. Weekly classes are held and all ages, levels of experience and body types are welcome to join in and embrace an expressive form of art. Information, 382-5199 ordktdance.com.

Buzzing Hornets
MARQUEEThe New Orleans Hornets, dividing their home games between New Orleans and Oklahoma City, will play only twice this month at the New Orleans Arena. On Thurs., Dec. 14, the Hornets will try and sting the San Antonio Spurs in their first home game of the month. Two days later, they will take on the Dallas Mavericks before spreading their wings again and buzzing around the rest of the country. Information, 525-HOOP orwww.nba.com/hornets.

Festivals, Holiday Homes, Singing in the Square and Larger than Life Menorahs
MARQUEE• On Dec. 15-17, the Ashé Cultural Arts Center at 1712 Oretha Castle-Haley Blvd., will host a free weekend holiday festival. People of all ages and ethnicities are invited, giving everyone the chance to celebrate and learn about African and Caribbean culture, with arts, crafts, music and food. There will also be traditional storytelling. Information, 569-9070 orwww.ashecac.org.

• On Dec. 17th at 2 p.m., the Patio Planters Garden Club – the social and garden club of the French Quarter – will host the “Holiday Home Tour,” a fundraiser that invites guests to view five beautiful French Quarter houses that have been elaborately decorated for the holidays. The unique architecture, antique home furnishings and decoration collection from many Christmases past will be on display in each home. There is even a special guest of honor – Santa Claus – who makes an early appearance this year. The proceeds from the tour will benefit “Caroling by Candlelight,” a magical, 60-year old tradition which occurs the same evening. Tickets may be purchased in advance at Creole Delicacies, located at 533 St. Ann, or at New Orleans Gem and Lapidary, at 522 St. Phillip.

MARQUEE• At 6 p.m., Jackson Square will open all four gates in a yearly tradition that gathers hundreds wishing to sing Christmas carols. The Patio Planters Garden Club will provide the candles and song sheets free of charge. Information, 319-6226 orwww.patioplanters.org.

• Also on Dec. 17, from 4:30-6:30 p.m., the yearly lighting of the Hanukkah menorah will commence at Riverwalk’s Spanish Plaza on Canal Street. This spectacular ceremony features an 11- foot tall wooden menorah – the largest in our state, which was fashioned by the late Isak Borenstein, a Holocaust survivor who volunteered after learning that the original menorah – which was 12 feet tall and made of metal – had been vandalized and stolen in a previous year. Guests will also be treated to traditional and contemporary Jewish music, provided by Ooh La La Music. Latkes – traditional potato pancakes – will be served to all. The event is sponsored by Chabad Lubavitch of Louisiana. Information, 866-5164 orwww.Chabadneworleans.com.