Carlisle, Pa. (November 16, 2012) - Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB) is pleased to announce that its December 15 Hershey Theatre performances of George Balanchine's The NutcrackerTM will feature internationally recognized guest artist Jonathan Stafford.

Considered one of the top dancers in the world, Stafford performs with the New York City Ballet, where he has been principal dancer since May 2007. Stafford will perform the role of "Cavalier."

"Coming back home to perform ‘The Nutcracker' with CPYB is a special experience for me," said Stafford. "It is inspiring to dance alongside so many talented and enthusiastic students."

Since joining New York City Ballet, Stafford has danced featured roles in ballets by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Peter Martins, Susan Stroman, and Christopher Wheeldon. He originated feature roles in Mauro Bigonzetti's Luce Nascosta, Peter Martins's Romeo + Juliet, and Alexei Ratmansky's Russian Seasons.

Balanchine Trust Répétiteur and former New York City Ballet dancer Darla Hoover will stage CPYB's production of George Balanchine's The NutcrackerTM. A distinguished répétiteur, Ms. Hoover stages works throughout the world for The George Balanchine Trust and for Peter Martins, Ballet Master-in-Chief of New York City Ballet. CPYB is honored as the only pre-professional company in the world licensed to perform this annual holiday favorite.

Stafford is scheduled to perform in CPYB's George Balanchine's The NutcrackerTM at 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at the historic Hershey Theatre with live music by the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra. Tickets range from $25-$48 and can be purchased by calling 717.534.3405, online at, or in person at the Hershey Box Office at 15 East Caracas in Hershey.

CPYB is supported, in part, by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Cultural Enrichment Fund.

MEDIA OPPORTUNITY: We invite the media to attend upcoming rehearsals and speak with the performers and staff about the performance. For more information, please contact Bonnie Schulte at 717.245.1191 or Coverage opportunities of performances are also available and must be set up through Bonnie Schulte.

About Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet

Established in 1955 by Founding Artistic Director Marcia Dale Weary, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet is a nationally and internationally recognized school of classical ballet headquartered in Carlisle, Pa. CPYB's mission is to inspire, educate and enrich the lives of our students and the region through training in and the performance of classical ballet.

Jonathan Stafford, Principal Dancer New York City Ballet

Born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Jonathan Stafford began his dance training at the age of eight with the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet in Carlisle, under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary. Stafford entered the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, full time in the fall of 1997. Stafford was invited to become an apprentice with New York City Ballet in October 1998 and joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in February 1999. He was promoted to the rank of soloist in March of 2006 and became a principal dancer in May 2007. Stafford originated the role of Paris in Mr. Martins's Romeo + Juliet as well as originating a featured role in Mauro Bigonzetti's Luce Nascosta. Stafford received the Martin E. Segal Award from the School of American Ballet in 1999. His film work includes Columbia Pictures' Center Stage. Stafford is the brother of NYCB principal dancer Abi Stafford.