SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- In the South Bay on Friday, it was curtains up at the historic California Theatre in Downtown San Jose.
New Ballet held a preview performance of the San Jose Nutcracker. From the live orchestra, to the dancers, designers and more, New Ballet's official return to live audiences came just in time for the holidays.
"Everyone involved in the theater, none of us have done what we love to do for almost two years now," New Ballet Artistic and Executive Director Dalia Rawson told ABC7 News.
RELATED: Oakland Ballet's Nutcracker takes on special meaning this year amid pandemic
She said Friday's show also marked the first time New Ballet took the stage at the restored theatre.
It was a special occasion for a very special audience. More than 200 families were given the opportunity to preview Friday's show at no cost.
"I think the opportunity is ours," Rawson shared. "We are so excited to invite into the audience today, local families- kids from local elementary schools in Downtown San Jose. And also families affected with sensory and learning disabilities."
Local families with children in Title 1 schools and local chapters of organizations such as the National Council on Severe Autism were invited.
VIDEO: Return of East San Jose's Fiesta Navideña draws hundreds to Mexican Heritage Plaza
The event was hosted by Councilman Raul Peralez, who represents the downtown core and surrounding neighborhoods.
"I didn't get to come to the California Theatre very often," Councilman Peralez shared about his memories growing up in San Jose.
"We have so many of our youth here in San Jose that don't get to take advantage of theater performances here in the California Theatre," he continued. "And so, for us to be able to host them, it was really terrific. Gives them a little bit of exposure in this historic venue as well."
The show gave Mariana Lopez and her extended family a reason to reunite.
"It brings us all together, especially since we haven't seen our godparents in a while. So, it kind of just brings us more as a family together," she said.
RELATED: New generation of dancers seeks to redefine ballet
For Lopez, family is everything. Fortunately, Friday's preview offered her family an experience they won't soon forget.
"The music especially, and the performance is amazing in every kind of way," she described. "Like, it's able to tell the story without saying anything."
Go here for more information on the San Jose Nutcracker.