Repertory Dance Theatre ‘Nutcracker,’ with Allentown Symphony, back for 30th
Repertory Dance Theatre (RDT) celebrates its 30th year performing the classic ballet, “The Nutcracker,” 2 p.m. Dec 9 and 10, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown. “The Land of The Sweets Party” for children immediately follows the Dec. 9 matinee.
The treasured tale of Clara’s dazzling journey, and dreams of her beloved toy, a Sugar Plum Fairy, and a Prince, comes to life in this spectacular holiday ballet production.
In addition, RDT presents the second annual “Let’s Go Nutz!,” 7 p.m. Dec. 8 and 9, featuring tap, jazz and contemporary dance, on the stage of Miller Symphony Hall, with a dinner, 5:30 p.m. Dec. 8, Rodale Community Room.
RDT is a Lehigh Valley pre-professional ballet school created by co-artistic director, Jennifer Haltzman Tracy, with her mother, the late Dolly Haltzman, in 1987. Haltzman Tracy is the former Associate Director of the New York City Ballet Education Department. She danced professionally with Kansas City Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet, Boston Ballet and New Jersey State Ballet. She’s an adjunct professor of dance at Muhlenberg College, Allentown.
Trinette Singleton, co-artistic director of RDT, was a principal dancer with The Joffrey Ballet for 15 years and was the first United States dancer to appear on the cover of Time magazine. Singleton toured throughout the world, performing in ballets by esteemed choreographers such as Joffrey, Arpino, Ashton, Balanchine, DeMille, Jooss, Tharp and Tudor. Singleton is on the faculty of DeSales University, Center Valley, where she’s the Director of the Conservatory of Dance.
This year’s “Nutcracker” cast includes 70. “There are a lot of return members and a lot of people who are part of our Talent Identification Program,” Halzman Tracy says.
Returning professional guest artists are Madeline Jazz Harvey and Matthew Harvey, both from Carolina Ballet Theatre. Matthew Harvey, a native of Allentown, began his dance training at the age of nine with RDT, under the direction of Haltzman Tracy and Singleton, when selected to participate in RDT’s Talent Identification Program. He received scholarships to attended summer dance intensives at Joffrey Ballet School and Chautauqua Institute.
“Felicia Sharpe, who last year was our Snow Queen, is taking on the role of the Arabian dancer,” says Haltzman Tracy. Sharpe started dancing at the age of three with Dolly Haltzman. She is the founding member and Assistant Artistic Director of DanceSpora.
“She is incredible,” says Haltzman Tracy. ”She has amazing stage presence, an amazing face. The Arabian Dancer is so sensuous. This role is so perfect for her.
“We have returning our two ‘Nutcracker’ princes. Cainan Weber has spent an entire year in an advanced men’s class at the School of American Ballet, the associate school of the New York City Ballet. He’s well on his way to becoming a professional ballet dancer.
“Luke Csordas, who is another fabulous dancer, is a senior at Emmaus High School. They’ll be sharing the role of Trepak, the Soldier and the Nutcracker Prince.”
Nicole Kujas of Macungie and Julia Vicario of Emmaus share the role of Clara.
Every year, Haltzman Tracy and Singleton change the choreography in order to highlight the dancers’ skills.
“We really try to enhance the choreography. If a dancer has improved, we’re stepping up the requirements for them, to highlight what they’re capable of doing.”
The Allentown Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ronald Demkee, performs “The Nutcracker” score, accompanied by the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts Choir, conducted by David MacBeth.
Of Demkee, Haltzman Tracym says, “He knows what to expect and we know what to expect. The returning musicians enjoy seeing the young dancers of RDT grow and progress.”
There will be two free shows for area school students Dec. 7 and 8, and matinees for senior citizens.
Last year’s “Let’s Go Nutz!” was such a success that RDT added a second evening. Musicians include Dave Leonhardt, Clifford Tracy, Gary Rissmiller, Paul Rostock and Bill Washer. Tap Ties, a regional tap-dancing company; the Sweet Adeline Lehigh Valley Chorus, and the Community Music School Saxophone Ensemble will also perform.
“We’re adding a little bit more this year, which is always exciting. The audience seemed to really embrace it. It’s a nice evening,” says Haltzman Tracy.
“The Nutcracker” has enchanted audiences for more than 120 years and remains a beloved ballet for many generations and cultures. The various styles of dance and “the story within a story” make this delightful tale eternally-captivating.
“The storyline is very easy to follow,” says Haltzman Tracy. “People who are new to ballet can enjoy it. It’s very entertaining, whether it be the Trepak Dance or the Chinese Dance or something more luxurious like the Snow Scene. Young kids love the fight scene. It’s a holiday story. It’s somebody getting their favorite toy.
“It’s become one of those timeless classics. It has a little bit of something for everybody.”
Tickets: Miller Symphony Hall box office, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown; allentownsymphony.org; 610-432-6715