Ballet Arts presents the holiday tradition ‘The Nutcracker’

Daniela Saljanin of Woodcliff Lake performs in a previous Ballet Arts performance of “The Nutcracker.”

EMERSON, N.J. — Ballet Arts’ annual production of “The Nutcracker” is a veritable feast for the senses. With a gorgeous array of costumes, a set that will evoke contented sighs reminiscing days of yore, choreography that highlights the diverse ages and skill levels of Ballet Arts’ student base, and of course, the wonderful score of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky – this holiday staple is a highlight of the season.

Olivia Stewart has her second turn as the Sugar Plum Fairy. In addition to studying at Ballet Arts, Olivia has spent the last two summers studying with the Bolshoi Ballet in New York City. Stewart is partnered by Gabriel Rajah, who bounds across the stage in a series of dizzying spins in the role of the Cavalier. Gabriel competed at the Youth American Grand Prix semifinal in Paris, France and is on full scholarship at the JKO School, American Ballet Theatre’s prestigious pre-professional training program.

Herr Drosselmeyer, the enigmatic magician who drives the plot, is played adeptly by local orthopedic hand surgeon Frederick Fakharzadeh. The younger members of the company shine as adorable mice, toy soldiers, angels, and of course the many polichinelles of Mother Gigone.

Siblings Clara and Franz are played by Naomi Roth, who attended ABT’s The Young Dancer Summer Workshop in New York City and Giana Fontanetta in Friday evening’s performance; and Ava Krieger and Jocelyn Yuan, who also attended ABT’s The Young Dancer Summer Workshop in Tampa, Florida in Saturday’s matinee performance.

Ballet Arts’ Jacob and Maddie perform in “The Nutcracker.” This year’s performances will be on Dec. 8 and 9.

Ballet Arts’ production of “The Nutcracker” is delightfully charming and enchanting for children and adults alike. For 40 years, Ballet Arts, now located in Emerson, has maintained a commitment to bring quality dance education and performances to residents of Bergen County. This year they are bringing “The Nutcracker” to Ridgewood. Don’t miss this opportunity to join Clara and Franz on their magical journey through the land of sweets with the Sugar Plum Fairy!

“The Nutcracker” performs Friday, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. at Benjamin Franklin Middle School, 335 N. Van Dien Ave., Ridgewood. For tickets, call (201) 970-7690 or visit

Photos courtesy Julia Chang Photography