Guests artists to perform with area's best dancers

The New Jersey Civic Youth Ballet The Nutcracker

HACKETTSTOWN — Adventure awaits when a young girl’s dream of a magical Nutcracker hits the stage at the Lackland Performing Arts Center, Dec. 14, 15 and 16 in Hackettstown. Over 45 talented dancers from Northampton, Pa., and Hunterdon, Morris, Sussex, Warren counties in New Jersey and have earned roles in the New Jersey Civic Youth Ballet’s (NJCYB) new production of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.
The 2018 performance will be the production debut for the NJCYB’s new Executive Director Alexandra Thorpe. A fresh spin on this classic tale will feature all new, original choreography by Alexandra Thorpe, Ashley Feyrer, and Erin Usawicz. Both Ms. Thorpe and Ms. Feyrer performed in the NJCYB’s inaugural Nutcracker in 2000 and are delighted to breathe new life into this holiday favorite.
The coveted role of Clara will be shared by Madison Kovach of Andover, and Maya Papendick of Stanhope. This will be the first appearance as Clara for both young dancers. Performing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy, will be guest artist Milena Garcia. Hailing from Matanzas Cuba, Ms. Garcia received her ballet training from the famed National Ballet School in Cuba and was a gold medalist at the World Ballet Competition in EAU. Sought after as a soloist and guest performer, she has appeared with Florida Classical Ballet Company, Rochester City Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, and Oklahoma City Ballet.
Ilya Kozadayev of St. Petersburg, Russia will dance the role of the Nutcracker Prince. He received his dance training from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia, The School of American Ballet in New York City, and John Cranko Ballet Academy in Stuttgart, Germany. Mr. Kozadayev has danced with numerous prestigious ballet companies in the United States including Boston Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, and most recently with Houston Ballet. He also performed as a soloist with the Colorado Ballet, and as a principal dancer with Columbia Classical Ballet.
The role of Arabian Coffee will be danced by Sara Segar and Sabatino Verlezza. Ms. Segar, originally from New Jersey was a founding member of NJCYB where she originated the role of the Clara Puppet. After graduating from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, she attended the Ailey School on full scholarship, performing Memoria with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater during their New York City Center Season in 2010. In 2011, at the age of 19, Ms. Segar joined RIOULT Dance NY and has toured nationally and internationally with the company. Her partner, Sabatino Verlezza grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio. He received his BFA in Dance from Kent State University, where he graduated summa cum laude with honors from the National Honors Society for Dance Arts. He began his dance education at the Cleveland San Jose Ballet/Cleveland School of Dance and continued his training with Nancy Lushington and his parents Barbara and Sabatino Verlezza. Mr. Verlezza joined RIOULT Dance NY in 2012 and performs nationally and internationally with the company. Both Ms. Segar and Mr. Verlezza are appearing courtesy of RIOULT Dance NY.
An enchanting ballet and holiday favorite, the Nutcracker is a classic production for all ages. Performances will take place at the beautiful Sitnik Theater, located in the Lackland Center at Centenary College in Hackettstown on Dec. 14 at 7 p.m., Dec. 15 at noon and 5 p.m., and Dec. 16 at 3 p.m..
For tickets call the box office at 908-979-0900 or purchase online at