Three young Moorestown residents perform in Ballet NJ’s “The Nutcracker”

Nutcracker Sophie and Alexa

The well-known story of “The Nutcracker” will come to life on stage this holiday season, featuring characters such as the Nutcracker, Mouse King, Sugar Plum Fairy, soldiers and Clara.

Three of Moorestown’s young residents and UES students Alexa H’onore Duffy, Emma Rabenou and Sophie Wilt have landed roles in Ballet NJ’s production of “The Nutcracker.” Wilt will be performing as a party scene girl and polichinelle; Rabenou will be a soldier, party scene boy and sugar plum fairy attendant; and Duffy will be performing as a polichinelle and as Clara.

Ballet NJ’s critically acclaimed production of “The Nutcracker” will take place at the Voorhees Schools Theatre, 1000 Holly Oak Drive. The productions will be Nov. 28 and 29 and Dec. 4, 5 and 6. Times for shows are 2:30 p.m. except Dec. 4, which is at 7:30 p.m.

“It is a great way to kick off the holiday season, and fun to watch,” Wilt said.

“I hope that the Moorestown community will come out to support Sophie, Emma and I. And that they will give themselves the chance to get caught up in the music, the magic and the memories of ‘The Nutcracker’ as its story unfolds,” Duffy said.

For Duffy and Wilt, dancing has always been something they have loved and wanted to do, so they started dancing at a young age. Wilt was in her first “The Nutcracker” performance at the age of 3, while Duffy was 4. Both have played roles such as mice, angel, soldier and polichinelle in “The Nutcracker.”

Rabenou could not be reached for comment.

This year, Wilt is a party scene girl and polichinelle, and Duffy is a polichinelle as well as her biggest role yet as Clara, on Nov. 29 and Dec. 5.

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“It has taken so much to get here. I am so excited that this moment has come. As Clara, I will be in all acts of the ballet, which means I have had to practice with the dancers from each one. It’s been challenging and an incredible experience. It’s definitely one I will hold on to for a lifetime,” Duffy said.

Both girls have worked hard for the performances, dedicating as many as 10 hours a week for classes and 11 hours on the weekends. Ballet has taught the girls life and career skills with things such as self-discipline, confidence, respect, teamwork and organization.

“My favorite part is seeing the faces of the audience in the first row. I can’t see any further. It’s so exciting to be on stage in costume and dancing,” Wilt said.

“At Ballet NJ, we’re a family. That means we push each other, cheer for each other, support each other and grow together,” Duffy said.

Ballet NJ Theater Company of New Jersey is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the arts, specifically ballet, to children. Since its inception in 1983, it has strived to maintain a level of excellence on par with that of productions in major cultural centers.

Children are given the opportunity to perform in full-length ballets alongside world-class professional dancers from major U.S. dance companies. Renowned designers create sets and costumes for each production.

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Ballet’s NJ’s 31st production of “The Nutcracker” will star dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet, BalletX and international Array of Guest Artists, feature sets and decor from the award-winning Quilans Scenic Studios and costumes by Rosemary Gorman and Jurga Kwiakowski.

“This year marks the 31st year that Ballet NJ will be performing this magical holiday tale, with over 100 cast members. The scenes that unfold are incredible. Every scene is filled with drama and beautiful dancing … There’s humor, too … Even people who aren’t familiar with ballet can enjoy the beauty that they will see before them, the skills of the dancers, the adorable qualities of our littlest members and the story itself,” Duffy said.

Tickets can be ordered online at www.balletnj.org/purchase-tickets.html or by phone at (856) 768–9503.

In addition, there will be two Girl Scout Days at the Ballet on Nov. 28 at 2:30 p.m. and Dec. 5 at 2:30 p.m. On these days, Girls Scouts and school-aged children get to participate in a backstage tour, meet the dancers, see the costumes up close and watch the dancers warm up. After the show, participants have the opportunity to have their picture taken with the Sugar Plum Fairy and get an autograph.

Parking is free and the theater is wheelchair accessible. To learn more, go to www.balletnj.org.