The holidays have arrived and so have the productions of the Christmas ballet, the "Nutcracker." The Arlington Ballet offers a variation of this Christmas favorite, mixing selected dances from it with original pieces choreographed by Elan Cooper.

The lead dancers -- John Hearn, Rebecca Reitze and guest artist Dan Schwarz -- are deducted and talented. Rebecca Reitze, 14, a student of Cooper's since the age of 6, has remarkable grace and confidence. The three make up the firm base that the company can stand on with security.

The first half of the show, "Celebration en Pointe," consists of four original pieces by Cooper that mix classical ballet and modern movement. Unfortunately, it suffers from a lack of focus, though the dancing remains good.

After the intermission, the show picks up. Cooper has chosen four dances from the "Nutcracker," all enjoyable and full of spirit. "The Dolls" is a charming duet performed with discipline and fluidity. Certainly the most vivacious performance is the pas de deux from the snow scene. Schwarz, as the snow king, and Reitze, as the sugarplum fairy, dance together beautifully in a dreamy setting while snowflakes fall around them -- perfect for Christmas.

Although the Arlington Ballet has many strong dancers, Cooper believes her corps is not strong enough to present a full-length ballet this year. Perhaps this is true, yet the Christmas production suffers by trying to include too many types of dance within one production.By next year, the company should be stronger, and plans to attempt a full-length ballet.

"Celebration en Pointe" will be presented Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Community Theater, 125 S. Old Glebe Rd., Arlington. For information, call 979-4865.

Other events:

Mekong Performing Arts. The company of the Blessed Vietnamese Martyrs Church in Annandale presents a program of Vietnamese music, dance and drama. Saturday, 7:30 p.m. J.E.B. Stuart High Scool, 3301 Peace Valley Lane, Falls Church. Tickets $2, $1 students. 560-5997.

"The Nutcracker," the movie of tchaikovsky's Christmas ballet, will be screened Saturday, 11 a.m. at Burke Branch Library, 4701 Seminary Rd., Alexandria. Free. 838-4598.

The Langley High School Band Winter Concert. An evening of music featuring the Concert Band, Wind Ensemble and Jazz Lab. Thursday, 8 p.m. at the McLean Community Center. Tickets $2, $1 students. For more information, call 790-0327.