“Mymom was a dancer and I started when I was 3,” she said. “I was 6 when I startedat the Academy of Dance Arts. Fortickets for Paramount Theatre, Asbury Park, Dec. 7 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. performances:asburyparkhall.com or arballet.org. Oneof the reasons this is the most wonderful time of the year is the abundance ofholiday entertainment for families. “Afterthat,” Jacey said, “you get offered a contract or find a new company.” “Additionally,Jacey has shown to be an eager learner. Her desire to improve every day hasbeen apparent,” he said. “She also brings a positive spirit in a disciplinethat can often be incredibly challenging.” Lookfor her in the corps for “Waltz of the Snowflakes” and “Waltz of the Flowers.” ARB’s new ballet master Ian Hussey, a former principal dancer with the Pennsylvania Ballet, plays the mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer. Adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” the ballet tells the story of a young girl named Clara and how a mysterious gift from her Uncle Drosselmeyer brings about enchanted dreams and fantastical scenes. The ARB production includes more than 100 performers from the company and its school. Shesaid her parents, Melissa and Jim Schnappauf, have been verysupportive of her choices, including leaving Shore Regional High School in WestLong Branch after two years to pursue her dream. She is continuing her studiesonline. By Gretchen C. Van Benthuysen ARBwas founded in 1963 by Audrée Estey as thePrinceton Regional Ballet Company; the company turned professional in 1978 and wasrenamed Princeton Ballet Company. In 1990 it became the American Repertory Ballet. It also operates the Princeton Ballet School withstudios in Cranbury, New Brunswick and Princeton. “Itwas intense, but that’s where I refined my technique,”she said. “I loved it more and more and decided I wanted to do this full time. “Asmy technique developed I could push myself and more opportunities opened up,”she said. Sheenrolled in ARB’s summer dance intensives, lasting two to five weeks, and thatled to the trainee invitation. “ARB’s‘Nutcracker’ is a timeless family tradition and a wonderful way to celebratethe magic of the season,” said Julie Diana Hench, executive director. “It’s agreat introduction for all ages to professional ballet and a treat for ourdancers, knowing that it brings such joy to audiences year after year.” Alsoin the cast is Jacey Schnappauf, 16, from the SharkRiver section of Neptune. She studied dance for 10 years, training underNicholas and Shayne Mishoe, owners of the Academy of Dance Arts in TintonFalls. Meanwhile,Jacey is really looking forward to Dec. 7. It’s her 17th birthday and she willbe dancing at the Paramount Theatre, just a few miles from her hometown. “Jaceyis a committed and extremely focused student,” said Ian Hussey, ARB’s balletmaster, who also portrays Uncle Drosselmeyer in the ballet. “Physically, she isgifted with rare length and, although being tall can sometimes be difficult foryoung dancers, she is quite technically strong. Thisis her first year with ARB as a trainee, a two-year bridge program, between thestudent phase of training and a professional career. Sixteen-year-old Jacey Schnappauf of Neptune will be part of the cast of American Repertory Ballet’s “Nutcracker.” Scheduledspecial guests for certain performances of the ARB’s “The Nutcracker” includetwo New York City Ballet dancers – soloist Unity Phelan (a former PrincetonBallet School student) as the Sugar Plum Fairy, accompanied by principal dancerAdrian Danchig-Waring – for two performances in Princeton. Also, fiveperformances in New Brunswick feature an orchestra and the Princeton Girlchoir. Shehas been looking into Ballet West, Salt Lake City, Utah, which she said isknown for its tall dancers. Jacey is 5 feet 8 inches tall. American Repertory Ballet’s production of “Nutcracker” will ring in the holiday season with several performances, including Dec. 7 at Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park. Photo courtesy Leighton Chen “Welook for talented dancers that show technical proficiency, artisticsensibilities and a desire to grow and learn in a professional environment,”Hench said. “A positive attitude and strong work ethic are also key for thesestudents. “Fromthe beginning, we could see that Jacey is a very disciplined, dedicated andtalented young dancer who is deeply invested into her dance education.” A perennial favorite is “The Nutcracker” and the American Repertory Ballet (ARB) has scheduled 15 performances at theaters around the state through Dec. 21, including two Dec. 7 at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park. Other venues include McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton; the State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick, and the Patriots Theater at the War Memorial, Trenton. Thisyear, seven out of eight ARB2 dancers came from the trainee program. ARB2is the development company where young dancers work directly with the maincompany.