The Nutcracker returns to Voorhees

New set pieces and returning ballet performers are set to make this year’s performance of Voorhees Ballet Theatre’s annual holiday piece one you don’t want to miss

The Voorhees Ballet Theatre will be presenting its 31st annual production of “The Nutcracker” this weekend in celebration of the holiday season. Performance times are Friday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8 at 5 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. at the Voorhees Middle School Theatre.

According to Suzanna Steinbach, artistic director for 31 years with the theater, the annual tradition is one it is accustomed to preparing for and looks forward to every year. Practice began the first week of October, with some of the approximately 70 girls being at the Lowe Dance Studio for up to eight hours a day during the weekend. Additionally, some girls will practice during the week as well for divertissements.

“The Nutcracker” dancers will be comprised of girls from Lowe Dance Studio’s own Dance Ensemble, and other dance studios as well.

While “The Nutcracker” is a recurring performance for the theater, Steinbach says they are always trying to make it better than the previous year.

“We try to improve upon it each year,” Steinbach said. “This year, we’ve improved on our Mother Ginger, and we also have some sets that are new. We got a new scrim (a way to change how light is cast on the stage) that we’re using, and also the second act throne that Clara and the Prince sit on in the Land of the Sweets will be new. So each year we try to improve.”

Another aspect of “The Nutcracker” being an annual tradition with the theater is watching those in it continue to grow over the years as they work year after year.

Both Isabel Rinaldi and Amanda Missigman are seniors at Eastern Regional High School and have been performing in “The Nutcracker” for years, making ballet and the performance synonymous with the holidays for them.

“We’ve been doing it forever,” Rinaldi said. “Every year, we work endlessly with rehearsals, and even in our classes we’re always working to improve.”

“We’re pretty much here seven days a week rehearsing,” Missigman said.

Rinaldi says she is preparing for her eighth year of “The Nutcracker,” while Missigman is getting ready for what she believes will already be her 10th performance.

Both say they feel they’ve gotten better and evolved over the years as they continue in their ballet careers.

“Just being able to progress through each and every scene, every role that I’ve been given the opportunity to perform,” Rinaldi said. “It’s just like, you can tell that you’ve evolved as a dancer with styles and technique.”

“I’ll watch myself doing a part from, say, six years ago that I’m still doing now and I can see the improvement from then to now,” Missigman said.

Both said the total atmosphere of the performance, from the music to the choreography to the costumes and more, makes the “The Nutcracker” one of their favorite performances. Each said, it’s “tradition.”

Those interested in seeing “The Nutcracker” performed live can go to voorheesballettheatre.com and buy tickets in the upper-right hand corner of the website.