American Repertory Ballet Celebrates 50th Annual NUTCRACKER Season in Princeton, Beg. Today


American Repertory Ballet's Nutcracker production is celebrating 50 consecutive years this coming holiday season. It is one of the longest-running Nutcracker productions in the United States, and is the longest-running in New Jersey. Today, November 30, 2013, directly following the 4:30pm performance at McCarter Theatre, American Repertory Ballet will hold a celebratory reception at The Nassau Club in Princeton.

ARB's Nutcracker has been a holiday tradition since 1964 when the company, then known as Princeton Regional Ballet, began to perform the ballet annually. Founder and then Artistic Director Audrée Estey actually first staged her version of Nutcracker in 1956 as a spring show for Princeton Ballet School. It premiered at McCarter Theatre in Princeton. William Lockwood, who still works at McCarter as Director of Special Programming, suggested that the company perform the production at McCarter every holiday season, and that idea soon became reality. In addition to its performances at McCarter Theatre, the company has also performed Nutcracker for over 20 years at State Theatre in New Brunswick and Patriots Theater at the War Memorial in Trenton, and at many other venues throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania over the years. This November and December, in addition to these three venues, ARB'sNutcracker will grace the stages at Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway and Algonquin Arts Theatre in Manasquan.

ARB and Princeton Ballet School Alumni from the last 50 years of Nutcracker and their families will be in attendance, alongside ARB's current performers, fans, supporters and community members. The event will feature hors d'oeuvres prepared by The Nassau Club Chef Brian Dougherty, a 50/50 raffle, and more.

In Princeton, local businesses will also be celebrating American Repertory Ballet's milestone throughout the holiday season. The Bent Spoon - a favorite, locally-sourced ice cream and gelato vendor in Princeton - will be creating and offering a special Nutcracker flavor in honor of ARB's 50th. The Terra Momo Restaurant Group has jumped in with its support, as well, sponsoring a special a kick-off event for invited guests at Mediterra's private dining room. McCaffrey's Supermarket in the Princeton Shopping Center and the Sports Physical Therapy Institute in Princeton have also pledged their support of this momentous event.

American Repertory Ballet's mission is to bring the joy, beauty, artistry and discipline of classical and contemporary dance to New Jersey and nationwide audiences and to dance students through artistic and educational programs. The organization is comprised of: American Repertory Ballet, the preeminent contemporary ballet company in the state; Princeton Ballet School, one of the largest and most respected non-profit dance schools in the nation; and the Access and Enrichment initiatives, ranging from the long-running and acclaimed DANCE POWER program to the popular On Pointe series. The professional company is a classical and contemporary ballet company committed to presenting ballets from the 19th and 20th century alongside new and existing works by choreographers from today. Founded in 1963, the company is currently under the artistic leadership of Douglas Martin, former principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet. The company's rich history of repertory includes established masterpieces by distinguished American choreographers such as George Balanchine, Gerald Arpino, Alvin Ailey, Paul Taylor and Twyla Tharp; cutting edge works by choreographers such as Val Caniparoli, Kirk Peterson, Dominique Dumais, Harrison McEldowney, Amy Seiwert, Susan Shields and Melissa Barak; and former Artistic Directors Dermot Burke, Marjorie Mussman, Septime Webre and Graham Lustig. ARB has been designated a "Major Arts Institution" by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts consistently for the past two decades, and has repeatedly been awarded a Citation of Excellence by the Council. ARB was voted People's Choice for Best Dance Company in 2008, 2011, and 2012.

Princeton Ballet School has gained a national reputation for its excellent dance training since its founding in 1954 by Audrée Estey. Princeton Ballet School currently enrolls approximately 1500 students annually from age three through adult and is directed by Mary Pat Robertson. Princeton Ballet School has studios in Cranbury, New Brunswick, and Princeton which are equipped with shock-absorbent floors, non- slip dance surfaces and pianos for live accompaniment. Many of Princeton Ballet School's faculty members have performed professionally; others have attained graduate degrees in dance education and have won awards for their teaching. Students from the school have gone on to dance in professional ballet and contemporary dance companies in the US and abroad. Graduates have danced with such diverse organizations as the American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Miami City Ballet, STREB, Momix, Complexions, Mark Morris Dance Company, Twyla Tharp Dance, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, New York Theatre Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Ballet Met Columbus, and American Repertory Ballet.