London (CNN)Perhaps it's Tchaikovsky's instantly recognizable score, the festive set design, fairytale costumes, or the familiarity of the plot -- whatever the reason "The Nutcracker" has become a staple of the Christmas season.
Behind the magical scenes of The English National Ballet's 'Nutcracker'
Performed by countless ballet companies each year, the much-loved tale follows a young girl who dreams that her toys have come to life.
The English National Ballet has staged a production of "The Nutcracker" every year since it was founded.
This year principal dancer Laurretta Summerscales plays Clara, the lead role. She invited CNN Style behind the scenes just moments before she stepped out onto stage, at the London Coliseum.
Summerscales described her anticipation before the curtain rises. From the sounds of the audience filing in like "locusts in the grass," to the "cozy" atmosphere in the changing room.
"I don't think people realize how much goes into what we do on stage," she said.
"That is the art of classical ballet, you have to make something that's very hard look really easy."
The British ballerina started dancing at the age of two and joined The English National Ballet School at age 17. She described why she feels ballet is such an important art form:
"To me, ballet is a means of expressing yourself in a way that you can't, and don't necessarily have to, with words . . . it's really important for people to communicate through body language and pure emotion."
Watch the video to go behind the scenes at The English National Ballet's performance of "The Nutcracker."