Matthew Giorgio will be dreaming about the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies."

That is, if the Elk Point-Jefferson (S.D.) Middle School sixth-grader can remember all of the intricate dance steps associated with Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker."

"I'm not really much of a dancer," Giorgio, 11, admitted, "so this will be a real challenge for me."

Playing the part of rambunctious Fritz Stahlbaum, Giorgio is one of nearly 70 performers appearing in the Siouxland Civic Dance Association's production of "The Nutcracker," at 7 p.m. Dec. 15 at Sioux City's Orpheum Theatre.

According to Siouxland Civic Dance Association director Shirley Dill, "The Nutcracker" is a show she's been involved with for nearly 45 years.

In fact, the first production occurred inside the auditorium of Sioux City's former Herbert Hoover Junior High School.

Since then, Siouxland Civic Dance Association has staged the ballet every few years. This year's production will feature Paul Craig and Sylvia Denton of the Boston Ballet.

More important to Dill is the fact that the show also stars dancers from all of Sioux City's dance studios.

"That's the wonderful part," she said. "This is the dance community's Christmas gift to Siouxland."

Apparently, the gift-giving season began in August, since that's when dancers auditioned for their parts. Cast members have been busily in rehearsal since September.

Which may or may not be enough time for Giorgio, a Sioux City Community Theater regular but a first-timer for "The Nutcracker."

"I'm sure I'll be fine by showtime," he said with the confidence of a show business trouper.

Giorgio will be playing many of his scenes with Mark Hubbard, a longtime ballroom dance instructor who will also be making his "Nutcracker" debut.

"I think it will be exciting," Hubbard said, reflecting on his role as Giorgio's on-stage dad. "This is an entirely new experience for me."

Perhaps Hubbard can get some pointers from Alexis McCrory, who will be playing the part of his daughter Clara.

At age 12, McCrory is already a veteran of "The Nutcracker," having appeared in a production a few years ago.

Indeed, the Sergeant Bluff-Luton Middle School seventh-grader has been dancing since she was 3.

"Pretty much, my world revolves around dance," McCrory said. "If I'm not in dance class, I'm thinking about dance."

Still, McCrory said she gets butterflies before every performance.

"I get nervous right before I go on stage," she said. "Once I'm on stage, they go away."

"You won't have to worry about that at the Orpheum," Jessica Jensen said, confiding in McCrory. "The auditorium is pitch dark, so you can just concentrate on your performance."

This will mark Jensen's 10th appearance in the Siouxland Civic Dance Association's "The Nutcracker."

In past years, Jensen has played McCrory's role as the young daughter. But in this production, Jensen will play McCrory's mom.

"I literally grew up, performing 'The Nutcracker,'" Jensen, now the teacher/owner of Sioux City's Contemporary Dance Studio, noted. "No matter how many times I've done it, it's still exciting for me."

That's a sentiment shared by Dill, who said the show's budget would have swelled to more than $150,000 if they were starting the production right off the bat.

"This is a huge production with vintage costumes and elaborate backdrops," she said. "Luckily, we're able to keep most of what we need in storage. Otherwise, it would be impossible to stage 'The Nutcracker' from scratch."

Watching the story of Clara, toys that come to life and a wondrous journey through the Enchanted Snow Forest to the Kingdom of Sweets still brings a smile to Dill's face.

"It simply wouldn't be Christmas without 'The Nutcracker,'" she said. "It's just a magical show."