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On your toes: Repertory Dance Theatre returns with ‘Nutcracker’ ballet

Repertory Dance Theatre (RDT) presents its 34th production of the “Nutcracker,” 2 p.m. Dec. 4 and 5, Miller Symphony Hall, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown.

Families can celebrate the holiday spirit with this beloved classic ballet set to the beautiful score of Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

Under the artistic direction of Jennifer Haltzman Tracy and Trinette Singleton, professional guest artists will lead a cast of RDT pre-professional dancers and Lehigh Valley performers, accompanied by the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ronald Demkee, Associate Conductor-Pops Conductor.

Haltzman Tracy says it is a delight to have RDT alumni returning to perform in “Nutcracker”:

“Our guest performers are Daniel Mayo, of Ballet X, who’ll be returning as the Nutcracker Prince, and Elizabeth Knecht, of OYO Dance Company, performing in the Spanish Dance.”

Francesca Maria Kraszewski will perform as the Sugarplum Fairy. Roger Creel will play her Cavalier.

RDT didn’t present “Nutcracker” performances during the 2020 holiday season because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shutdown.

Says Haltzman Tracy, “We need this. The dancers and the audience alike.

“There are certain [face mask and COVID-19 vaccination] requirements in order to see the show, so it would be best for audience members to visit the website for details prior to attending.

“We are thrilled to be performing before an audience again,” says Haltzman Tracy. “Not many shows have a live orchestra.”

“There is some new choreography. There will be a tap dance by the Toy Soldiers in the First Act. There’s also new choreography for the Marzipan, Chinese and Trepak dances.”

“There will be about 60 performers,” says Haltzman Tracy. “Trinette Singleton’s daughter, Katie Donnelly, will perform a new Arabian dance.”

Singelton’s son-in-law, Brian, and four-year-old granddaughter will perform in the show, as well.

Haltzman Tracy’s daughter, Alexis Haltzman Tracy, RDT rehearsal assistant, will perform in the Party Scene with her brother, Evan Haltzman Tracy.

“It’s really wonderful that several generations are in this show.”

The role of Clara will be performed by Holly Binder, an 8th grader at Saint Ann School, Emmaus.

Eric Feinstein returns as Herr Drosselmeyer.

Daniel Mayo received a BFA in Dance from The Juilliard School and danced with Atlanta Ballet from 2007-2010. He has toured extensively and performed professionally as a guest artist with The Atlanta Opera, Dance Grand Moultrie and Bennyroyce Dance Productions.

Elizabeth Knecht apprenticed with the Joffrey Ballet. Her training includes coaching with Cheri Noble of the Pennsylvania Ballet, Dame Margot Fonteyn and Assaf Messer of the Bolshoi. She was chosen to present her choreography for the Northeast Regional Ballet Association.

Francesca Maria Kraszewski joined New York Dance Project in 2018 at the age of 12, and danced various principal roles, including Odette in “Swan Lake,” and Sugar Plum Fairy in “Nutcracker.” She demonstrated a Robert Joffrey master class for the Arpino Foundation in 2020.

Roger Creel trained at the Lexington School of Ballet and Boston Ballet School before graduating summa cum laude from Amherst College. He danced with the Louisville Ballet from 2013-2018, performing in “Coppélia,” “Swan Lake,” “Giselle” and “Sleeping Beauty.” Creel created ballets for Kentucky Shakespeare Festival.

Free shows for area school students, which in the past were presented before an in-person audience, will instead be videotaped this year and shown to students.

RDT’s “Nutcracker” is made possible in part by grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, City of Allentown, and areal foundations.

Ticket information: www.millersymphonyhall.org; 610-432-6715

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY HUB WILLSON Repertory Dance Theatre, 34th production of the “Nutcracker,” accompanied by Allentown Symphony Orchestra, 2 p.m. Dec. 4 and 5, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.