Salisbury Press

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PHOTO BY HUB WILLSON Mouse King, Nutcracker do battle, PHOTO BY HUB WILLSON Mouse King, Nutcracker do battle,"Nutcracker," Repertory Dance Theatre, 2 p.m. Dec. 8, 9, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

RDT, Allentown Symphony return with live 'Nutcracker'

Wednesday, December 5, 2012 by JENNIFER McKEEVER Special to The Press in Focus

During the holiday season, there are several "Nutcracker" ballets to choose from in the Lehigh Valley.

However, the 26th annual Repertory Dance Theatre (RDT) "Nutcracker," 2 p.m. Dec. 8 and 9, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown, is the only one with a live orchestra.

The Allentown Symphony, conducted by Associate Conductor Ron Demkee, again performs the Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky "Nutcracker" score. The dancers must listen closely to the orchestra and watch the conductor to execute this most famous score.

The Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts Women's Choir, directed by Ellen Ditmer, sings in the Snow Scene.

"The Nutcracker" is a two-act ballet first choreographed in 1892 by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Originally, the ballet was not a success, but since the late 1960's, "The Nutcracker" has been performed by countless ballet companies in the United States to enormous popularity.

The choreography is by RDT founder Dolly Haltzman, her daughter Jennifer Haltzman Tracy, as well as Trinette Singleton, catering to the skills of the cast of 100 talented dancers which includes DeSales University students. "The first act is festive, lively and fast-paced," says Haltzman Tracy, Artistic Director at RDT where Singleton is Co-Artistic Director.

This year, the role of Clara alternates between Meredith Johnson, a Parkland High School junior, and Kennedy Ahn, a Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts junior.

The Sugar Plum Fairy will be performed by Madeline Jazz Guerdat, who is engaged to Mathew Harvey, who dances opposite her as the Cavalier. Both are from the Carolina Ballet Theatre, Greenville, S.C. Harvey won a scholarship as a third-grader to attend RDT and studied with the company through high school. The couple teachers master classes during the summer at RDT.

Herr Drosselmeyer is again performed by Eric Feinstein.

RDT "Nutcracker" performances for area schools are Dec. 6 and 7.

The "Land of Sweets Party" follows the Dec. 8 matinee.