The Orangeburg Civic Ballet will kick off the month of December with performances of “The Nutcracker” and “The Polar Express.”

Though the ballet has put on the shows for several years, this year’s production will have new and bigger features than previous years.

The dancers believe the new additions will add to audiences’ experience of the holiday stories, which have become annual traditions for many.

Lily-Katherine Felkel

Lily-Katherine Felkel performs during a previous Orangeburg Civic Ballet  performance of the ‘Nutcracker’ as the Snow Queen. 

“It just feels really nice that we can be part of that tradition for them and that we can put on that persona for them,” principal dancer Lily-Katherine Felkel, 17, said.

The Orangeburg Civic Ballet has been performing the two shows for the past three years, but this year there will be a longer “Nutcracker” than the abridged version the group has been putting on since the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes a new opening party scene and updated battle scene, Felkel said.

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“The stereotype is that people will watch ballet and sometimes they’re bored,” she said. “This is not like that at all. You can’t watch any of these scenes and get bored.”

“The Polar Express” segment features various styles of dancing, including jazz, tap, tumbling and Rockette-style dancing to complement the traditional ballet of “Nutcracker,” Adrea Otts, 17, said.

Both segments feature new choreography, Felkel said.

The dancers have been rehearsing every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. since late September, Artistic Director Cammie Bunch said.

Nutcracker (copy)

Members of the Orangeburg Civic Ballet perform Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” in this file photo.

“The first about maybe two weeks we have a decent amount of breaks in between rehearsals and then after that it gets pretty strict,” Felkel said. “So then we’re really working hard and it’s tiring, but it’s worth it in the end.”

The 52 members of the company will be joined by eight outside dancers for the performances, Bunch said.

Otts encouraged members of the community to show support for Orangeburg’s arts scene.

“If you want to see something new, this is very much the place to go,” she said.

Performances of the double feature will be on Friday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 9 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Cornerstone Community Church, 1481 Chestnut Street, in Orangeburg.

Shows for schools and nursing home groups will be held on Thursday, Dec. 7, with “The Nutcracker” at 9 a.m. and “Polar Express” at 11 a.m.

Tickets are available for $10 a person and can be purchased at

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5553. Follow on Twitter: @bozardcaleb.

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