Audiences will have four chances to see the annual holiday spectacular at Kutztown University’s Schaeffer Auditorium.
Kutztown Native and professional ballet dancer, Jillian Davis of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, comes home to perform in Berks Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker”
Berks Ballet Theater (BBT) will commence its 48th season with the area’s brightest holiday show, The Nutcracker, with four shows spread across Dec. 16 and 17, respectively. Expectations for the annual tradition are high, but the impeccably trained dancers are prepared to rise to the occasion to create magic, along with the lavish scenery, brightly colored costuming, and accompaniment of the Reading Pops Orchestra.
Of the upcoming show, BBT Artistic Director Kelly Barber said, “The goal is to give the attendees the most opulent experience so that they return year after year. The performance will dazzle and mesmerize audiences, and from the moment the curtain opens, everyone knows they are in for a sumptuous treat.”
Barber along with BBT’s Ballet Master and Resident Choreographer, Nathan Bland, have co-choreographed the ballet featuring 21 company dancers and 29 students from the company’s namesake, Berks Ballet Theatre Conservatory of Dance. “Our dancers have all learned new roles and take great pride in making them they’re own,” said Bland. He added, “The real joy comes in seeing the younger dancers take on ‘corps’ roles for the first time, newly on pointe, and eager to perform.”
BBT company soloists in this year’s Nutcracker include Madisyn Dietrich, Tessa Morrissey, and Julia Traffas, all three sharing the coveted role of Clara; Faith Hartman and Kaitlyn Staskel in the roles of Dew Drop Fairy and Mirliton; Evie Romanski and Leah Cochran will share the roles of Mouse Queen, Spanish Chocolate soloist, and Arabian Coffee.
BBT fans will recognize seasoned pro dancer Aaron Smyth in the role of the Cavalier. Smyth performed this role in ’22 and most recently dazzled audiences in BBT’s Sleeping Beauty Suite in May of this year. Smyth is best known for his associations with American Ballet Theatre II in New York, The Royal Ballet in London, and The Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, as well as being an original cast member in London’s West End production of An American in Paris. Smyth also played the role of the Snow Cavalier in Disney’s The Nutcracker in the Four Realms feature film alongside Misty Copeland.
Rounding out the cast of professional dancers is Saaya Pikula Mason as the Sugar Plum Fairy (last seen as Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty Suite); Daniel Mayo as Herr Drosselmeyer; Blake Krapels as The Nutcracker and Mirliton soloist; Kutztown native Jillian Davis as the Snow Queen; and Alberto Andrae as the Snow King. Both Davis and Andrae dance for Complexions Contemporary Ballet.
For the sixth year, Tchaikovsky’s memorable score will be performed by the Reading Pops Orchestra under the direction of conductor Willis Rapp.
BBT’s The Nutcracker is a wonderful holiday tradition that marks the start of the holiday season in our area! Area residents don’t need to travel far to experience the excitement of live ballet.
All four performances will take place at Schaeffer Auditorium located at 15200 Kutztown Road, Kutztown, on Dec. 16 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. and Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
For tickets and additional information, visit BerksBalletTheatre.com or call (610) 373-7577.
Berks Ballet Theatre (BBT) is a non-profit 501(c)3 pre-professional ballet company whose primary purpose is to provide serious dancers with the best possible forum for training and performance in classical and contemporary dance in Southeastern Pennsylvania. BBT was founded by Carol Ennis in 1976 with the philosophy that given the training and opportunity, the child next door could grow up to be anything they wanted, including a dancer in any major professional ballet company. BBT dancers have gone on to work professionally with Richmond Ballet, Sarasota Ballet, Louisville Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Ballet Theatre of Annapolis, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Ballet North Texas, and Broadway National Tours. BBT’s studios are within The GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, located in downtown Reading. Learn more at BerksBalletTheater.com/company.