Budding ballerinas perform alongside Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker in Detroit

Each holiday season, Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker take us into a world of yuletide fantasy.

This year, it's at the Fox Theatre in Detroit for three performances on December 23. One of the performances incorporates dozens of talented, metro Detroit dancers. Nearly 100 girls from dance studios across the area get to perform alongside professional ballerinas from all over the world. 

"It's a lot of bright lights. We're with Russian dancers who are really, really talented, dancing with them and around them and it's fun," Abby Vincler told us. 

"It's like a lot of people in the audience so I'm not really nervous but it's really fun to dance for everyone on stage and [have] a lot of lights on me," Mercy Jeffries said. 

Thirteen-year-old Abby and 12-year-old Mercy have been training for this moment at their host studio, the MDM Dance Project in Shelby Township. Mark McLeese and his dance teachers auditioned girls from dance studios all across metro Detroit.

"We started auditioning at the end of October and we have auditioned these kids - there was over 100 kids from all over metro Detroit [that] came out - and they were hand selected for different parts," McLeese said. "This is a huge accomplishment because they don't get this sort of opportunity often to be able to dance on the Fox Theatre stage."

For the last 8 years, Rachel Deratany has been in charge of teaching the dancers their choreography.

"It is specific," she emphasized. "The Russian dancers are very, very specific when they deliver the choregraphy to us and then, delivering that to them make sure they uphold the standard of the Russian dancers is very important."

She loves seeing the girls' hard work pay off.

"It's a proud mom moment, almost, because you watch these girls - and some of them I only see every year at Nutcracker - and it's just like we pick up where we left off the year before, and you get tears in your eyes watching them perform on stage and do what they've worked so hard to do and just see them shine."

Mercy, from Farmington Hills, is especially excited since one day she hopes to become a professional ballerina.

"They are really, really good, so it inspires me to be better and be like them when I'm older," she said. 

This spectacular production at Detroit's Fox Theatre has become a Christmas tradition for thousands of people who look forward to the Great Russian Nutcracker. It's a magical experience for those in the audience -- and those on stage.

"I love going to Detroit, especially, and going to the Fox Theatre because usually we're in high schools doing our regular routines but this is a huge stage with tons of people watching us and it's just so much fun," Abby said. 

If you'd like to attend, these dancers will be performing in the 4 p.m. show on Dec. 23, 2018. You can get more information on tickets here