PRINCETON, NJ - American Repertory Ballet presented yet another successful opening night of the highly acclaimed Nutcracker production Thanksgiving weekend at McCarter Theater in Princeton. Since the Company’s Nutcracker premiere in 1964, the performances have become an enduring and beloved holiday tradition for New Jersey families.
Photo Credit: George Jones
After its opening day performances on Friday, November 23rd, American Repertory Ballet also hosted its 8th Annual Alumni Gathering, welcoming back many of ARB and Princeton Ballet School’s former students, company members, and faculty who have shared the joy of performing in this holiday classic.
Among the alumni crowd this year was ARB student and company member Shari Nyce. She first danced the role of Clara in 1978 and went on to become a principal dancer with ARB. Now Nyce is the owner of Nyce Bodies Pilates Studio in Pennington. One of her three daughters now studies at Princeton Ballet School takes part in the production as a mouse.
Another notable alum who has attended the Annual Gathering in the past is Dodie Petit, former student and company member who danced the principal role of Sugar Plum Fairy in the 1970’s. Petit returned again to the organization as a guest artist and later went on to have an extensive Broadway career. ARB’s Princeton Ballet School offers a merit scholarship in honor of her mother, Ruth Petit, costume designer for Nutcracker for many years.
Many recent high school graduates also return home for the holidays to reconnect with their friends at the gathering. One recent alum, Emily Munoz, is studying at Pitzer University in California. Her parents, Tim and ARB Board of Trustees member Jo-Ann Munoz continue to grace the production as one of the sophisticated couples in the first act’s party scene. Princeton Ballet School alum Angelica Generosa also visied from the West Coast, where she dances with Pacific Northwest Ballet. Morgan Caglianone visited on her Thanksgiving break from Columbia University, where she is studying Engineering and dancing with the Columbia Ballet Collaborative. Maria Katerina Raphael is studing at Princeton University, where she also coninues dancing with student dance companies including Princeton University Ballet. Brothers Evan and Ian Law were also in attendance. Evan is now studing at School of American Ballet, the official school of New York Ciy Ballet, and Evan is a US Army Calvary Scout studying at Rutgers University.
Some other illustrious Alumni and also American Repertory Ballet Wall of Fame members who have danced in ARB’s Nutcracker include:
Bebe Neuwirth- Actress, singer, dancer and also Tony and Emmy Award Winner
Carol Estey- Founder Audrey Estey’s daughter, Broadway performer and Chair Dance Department at Stephens College
James Vincent- Former Artistic Director of Hubbard Street Dance and Netherlands Dance Theatre
Phyllis Papa- Artistic Director of Atlantic City Ballet
Kraig Patterson- Mark Morris Dance Group company member
Karen Russo Burke- Choreographer and Artistic Director of Dayton Ballet
Lynda Sing- Dance Theater of Harlem, Susanne Farrell Ballet and Twyla Tharp Company Member
Annie Woodside Gribbins- Director of Marketing for McCarter Theater
Erin Du- Washington Ballet Company Member and School Director for American Dance Institute
Sean Mahoney- Paul Taylor Dance Company Member
Dianne Partington- Joffrey 2, Ballet du Nord, Les Grands Ballet Canadiens Company Member and Director of Dianne Partington School of Classical Ballet
Tim Acito- Paul Taylor 2 and Momix Company Member, Writer and Composer of musicals
“It is always a pleasure reconnecting with alumni sharing their ‘remember when’ stories and the impact Princeton Ballet School training has had on their lives,” says Lisa de Ravel, former ARB dancer and current Princeton Ballet School Dean of Students and ARB Alumni Relations Coordinator. “Sometimes it takes a little distance to gain a perspective of what a gift it is to learn the craft of ballet and perform alongside professional dancers in magnificent theaters. A few former students brought their own children to experience the magic. We are a family of families and treasure what each individual has offered in our continued mission of keeping the Nutcracker tradition alive. In planning our 50th Nutcracker reunion for 2013, we are actively seeking all former Princeton Ballet School and American Repertory Ballet cast members and parents who have contributed to this wonderful history.”