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Dancers are seen at the National Ballet of Canada's Company Class in Toronto, Oct. 4, 2018.The Canadian Press

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the National Ballet of Canada to cancel its performances set for November and December, including its annual production of “The Nutcracker.”

In a news release, the company says not being able to perform the fall season is “deeply disappointing.”

But the safety of their audiences and artists is their “foremost priority” during the pandemic.

The ballet says it still intends to proceed with its winter season in March 2021 and its summer season in June 2021 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto.

Artistic director Karen Kain says she’s “particularly heartbroken to have to cancel ‘The Nutcracker.’”

Kain notes this will be the first year since 1955 that Toronto audiences will not be able to watch the holiday classic that’s set in a winter wonderland and features celebrity cameos.

“The glorious production includes 213 dancers, musicians and children and requires many hours of rehearsals that would need to start in September,” Kain said Wednesday in a statement.

“I am very pleased, however, that we will open the revised season with Crystal Pite’s ‘Angels’ Atlas.’ I could not think of a more fitting ballet for our return than Crystal’s profoundly moving work about human connection and the ephemerality of existence.”

Kain said “Angels’ Atlas” will be performed with George Balanchine’s“Serenade” and James Kudelka’s “The Four Seasons.”

The winter season will continue with James’ “Cinderella” and John Neumeier’s “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

The summer season features the world premiere of “Swan Lake.”

Kain said “Frame by Frame” by Robert Lepage and Guillaume Cote will be moved to a future season.

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