The Nutcracker returns us to childhood dreams. The Messiah draws us into the life of Christ and the realm of God. And the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, every December at the City Center, unites us in elation. This year’s season of three weeks holds two premieres—Robert Battle’s For Four and Jamar Roberts’s Holding Space—and four new productions, three of which are by Ailey and set to the music of Duke Ellington: Pas de Duke, Reflections in D, and The River. The fourth is Battle’s Unfold, set to Leontyne Price singing an aria by Gustave Charpentier. Other favorites in repertory include Cry, Blues Suite, and BUSK. Revelations, of course, is always on hand, a masterpiece both earthy and spiritual. —L.J.