In 1995, choreographer Michael Smuin created a holiday piece that's still the Bay Area's most popular antidote to The Nutcracker. Swimming with dancing Christmas trees, starry-eyed vamps, and flirty hula dancers, The Christmas Ballet harmonizes traditional Christmas fare with riotous ingenuity. This year, Smuin weaves together old and new material. Act I, "The Classical Christmas," features the usual suspects (Bach, Mozart) along with fresh tracks by the ensembles Chanticleer and Fortuna, as well as a French New Year's carol from the 1500s. Act II, "The Cool Christmas," presents a kaleidoscopic cast of characters (from pouty ballerinas in Santa Baby outfits to a capering Frosty the Snowman) who bust out to songs by Eartha Kitt, Willie Nelson, and the Chieftains. A new tune, "Christmas by the Bay," written by lyricist Clark Sterling and composer Nolan Gasser, describes swooning couples enjoying the holidays against a quintessential rain-splattered backdrop. Along with splitting the Nutcracker'slock on the season, this year's show doles out more than a few surprises.