‘It doesn’t feel like Christmas unless we do it’

Williamstown Ballet Theater hosting annual performance of 'The Nutcracker'

Dancers at the Williamstown Ballet Theater pose before the annual performance of ‘The Nutcracker.’ The company will have shows at the Grand Theater on Main Street in Williamstown on Dec. 19, 20 and 21.

One of the most iconic ballets — one that has stood the test of time — makes its annual appearance at the Grand Theater on Main Street in Williamstown on Dec. 19, 20 and 21. The Williamstown Ballet Theater will perform “The Nutcracker” live on stage for the fourth consecutive year.

“The Nutcracker” is a two-act ballet composed in 1892 with a score by Tchaikovsky. Laurie Sanford, artistic director of the Williamstown Ballet Theater, first began performing “The Nutcracker” in town four years ago.

- Advertisement -

“It’s just a really fun holiday tradition,” she noted. “I think it brings people together. It’s a really cool experience for the younger dancers to learn how to go through that process of being in a big production and working with professional dancers.”

Though her ballet company is comprised of toddlers to adults, the annual holiday performance features 22 pre-professional dancers, four professional dancers and Sanford herself. The ballet is choreographed by Sanford, Sara Billow, Caitlin McElroy and Lora Allen.

For 18-year old Amanda Shapiro, the show is key to her holiday season.

“I love that we do it every year; it doesn’t feel like Christmas unless we do it.”

For middle-school students Zoey Copsetta, Sabrina Gaspariano and Schuyler Torres, the best part of the show is trying different choreography and seeing how their parts change from year to year.

Shapiro elaborated on that, noting that while the plot of the ballet never changes, the choreography and assignments can and will change.

“We get to explore everything ‘The Nutcracker’ has to offer,” she explained. “Although it’s the same every year, we get to change things up a bit. Even if it’s the same part, the teachers could (enhance) the choreography.

“It’s always changing and growing with us.”

Tenth-grader Grace Kushner has a different outlook than the rest, noting the memories made in rehearsal is her favorite part.

“I like how we all bond; we get closer,” she said.

The ballet is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m.; Saturday Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m.. Each show will take place at the Grand Theater on Main Street. Tickets are $25 for adults and $18 for students and seniors; they can be purchased by calling (856) 304-4294 or purchasing at the door the day of the event.

Shapiro’s mom, Michelle, said some people come out each year to see the show, making it their own holiday tradition. Sanford believes it is a perfect family event.

“It’s so iconic and traditional, everyone recognizes the music,” Sanford said. “The costumes are bright and fun; it’s entertaining for kids. Supporting the arts is awesome.”

On the flip side, this performance could be the key to a whole new world for those who have never witnessed a ballet.

“There are people who never experienced ballet, will never experience ballet,” Michelle said. “This is a really good way of introducing this kind of art form to the community because it’s so friendly.”

Like mother, like daughter: Amanda echoed her mother’s sentiment.

“Everyone should get the chance to see a ballet at some point in their lives,” she related. “Whether they decide they hate it after seeing it or decide they want to keep seeing it, I think it’s important to get the experience because it’s definitely unique and definitely fits a lot of people’s interests, and they wouldn’t realize unless they saw it.”


Anthony is a graduate of Rowan University and a proud freelance contributor for 08108 magazine. He has past bylines in The Sun Newspapers and the Burlington County Times.
- Advertisment -