The Nutcracker is the ballet world's beloved holiday classic, but it can also be a stressful gig, especially for the dozens of kids who perform in every show.

"I'm nervous and I'm worried I'm going to forget something onstage," admits Tristan Brosnan, a 12-year-old who will appear as Misha, one of the ballet's main youngsters, in the National Ballet of Canada's production this year.

For its Nutcracker, the National has nearly 100 children performing in each staging — dressed up as dogs, mice or perhaps children getting toys. Not all are dance students and some are as young as six years old.

The Nutcracker

Young stars of The Nutcracker can get nervous, but luckily they have experienced mentors and principal dancers (who were once in their same little shoes) to look up to. (CBC)

Luckily, they've got some distinguished mentors to look up to. Principal dancer Guillaume Côté is among the elders who were once in their little shoes: he's played nearly every role in The Nutcracker since his childhood.

"If you're having a good time in a ballet like The Nutcracker, then the audience is having a good time. And I try to make sure that they're having the best time ever," Côté says.

In the attached media, Deana Sumanac and Zulekha Nathoo report on The Nutcracker's youngest stars.