From Marie to the Sugar Plum Fairy: Heather Holajter’s Journey in The Nutcracker

Watching The Nutcracker live at Christmastime has become a holiday tradition for many families. But for local artist Heather Holajter, performing in The Nutcracker has become a tradition spanning almost three decades. This weekend Heather will perform The Nutcracker for her 28th and final time at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center.

The Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet Society began performing The Nutcracker at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center in 1990, this being the 28th year. As a ballet student, Heather danced this first year as the leading little girl, Marie. Over these three decades Heather’s journey and growth as an artist, teacher, and dancer can be compared to the rich and exciting journey Marie takes with the Nutcracker to the Land of the Sweets.

Heather performing in The Nutcracker with partner James Buckley in 1993. Photo provided by Heather Holajter.

Heather’s journey with The Nutcracker has now come full circle as she teaches at The Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet Society. This weekend Heather will dance the coveted role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Her artistry, beautiful lines and technique and sparkling stage presence all shine in this production of The Nutcracker as she waltzes and prances as the Sugar Plum. In an interview she talked about how special this story and production is to her.

Heather stated, “My favorite part of dancing The Nutcracker is the Sugar Plum. I love the Sugar Plum because I love the music of the pas. It is something I will never get sick of even though I have rehearsed and performed this role many times.”

Heather also spoke about The Nutcracker being a tradition for many families and that she enjoys meet children and taking pictures with them all dressed up in their holiday attire. Following the two Saturday performances audience members will have this chance to take pictures.

The Nutcracker is a great way to jump into the holiday spirit and to experience live entertainment and live dance onstage. Heather stated, “You get a whole different experience watching dance live than watching it online. You are immersed in it and you get more of the feelings, excitement and true depth of the   performance, instead of seeing it on a screen.”

Heather performing with her partner. Photo credit; Upper Darby Performing Arts Center.

Finally, Heather spoke about the impact The Nutcracker has had on her life and how much she will miss this production and her ballet family because she will be moving away. “In ballet you tend to see the dancers more than your own family. I am happy and excited about the change but will definitely keep coming back because they are my family. It’s very bittersweet. A lot of my nerves before I dance are gone and it just feels like home.”

Experience Heather’s magical final performance as the Sugar Plum Fairy this weekend at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center. Performances are Friday, November 16 at 7 pm, Saturday, November 17 at 11 am and 3 pm, and Sunday, November 18 at 1:30 pm and 5:30 pm. For tickets visit

For a sneak peek of Heather’s dancing click here:


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