Everyone is invited to get his or her twirl on during the Midcoast’s first ever Join-in Nutcracker Sunday, Dec. 18 at 11:30 a.m. at the downtown Belfast Dance Studio, 109 High St.

Attendees should come ready to “perform” in their “Nutcracker” finest — tutus, Sugarplum Fairy dresses, nightgowns (in honor of Clara, the Nutcracker heroine), royal garb, tin soldier costumes, Victorian Christmas outfits, etc. Anyone with extra tutus or dress-up clothes to lend is asked to bring those along, and come-as-you-are is welcome too. The event will be geared toward children, but anyone with a love of ballet, dancing or the holiday spirit is encouraged to attend, whether or not they have children as an excuse.

“This is exactly the kind of playful, casual performance we like at the Belfast Dance Studio,” said studio owner Lisa Newcomb, owner. “We hope it will become an annual tradition.”

The Join-in Nutcracker will begin with a brief telling of the classic ballet’s story. The overture will play while everyone gussies up, stretches and gets ready to dance. Dancers will move chronologically through the ballet to highlights from the score, with demonstrations of ballet moves for inspiration by local ballerinas Clare Olson and Lila Carpenter. Carpenter started classes at age 4 at the Belfast Dance Studio and has been dancing ever since including with the Robinson Ballet Company, with which she performed in “Nutcracker” and spring showcases for several years. Olson has studied modern and ballet with Jimena Lasansky for eight years and has taken dance classes and workshops of all kinds from Maine to Minnesota.

Inspiring as the duo will be, no ballet or dance experience is necessary to participate in the Join-in Nutcracker — this event is purely for fun (and maybe burning some holiday calories). The event is being co-organized by the Dance Studio and city resident Arielle Bywater, who recently moved to Maine from Chicago, where her family attended a participatory Nutcracker put on by the city.

Bywater grew up attending the “Nutcracker” at Lincoln Center in New York City with her grandparents, but knows a lot of families do not have the money for or access to a theater performance … and that many kids are not able to sit for a two-hour formal ballet.

“This kind of ‘Nutcracker’ is the people’s version: it allows everyone to feel the pleasure of the music, of dancing and of dressing up,” she said.

The concept is based on the Dance-a-long Nutcracker, started by the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band and now in its 26th year as an event that has become a beloved and suitably offbeat Bay Area holiday tradition.

The Belfast Join-in Nutcracker lasts one hour and costs $4 for individuals and $7 for families, with additional donations welcome, as all proceeds will benefit the Dance Studio children’s scholarship fund. Every participating child will receive a small holiday treat as a parting gift. For more information, call the Dance Studio at 338-5830.

VillageSoup Knox/Waldo Arts Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401, ext. 251 or dernest@villagesoup.com.