Uptown Dance Academy (UDA) presents the 15th annual Black Nutcracker gala benefit fundraiser, to be held at Harlem’s world-famous Apollo Theater (253 West 125th Street) on Thursday, December 16 at 7 p.m. Ticket offerings include $30 to $75 for performance only, $50 tickets for the “Land of the Sweets” Meet the Stars VIP Reception and $150 orchestra seats with the VIP reception, which will take place at the Alhambra Ballroom. Group rates and theater parties are also available.

Victoria Rowell, a star of “The Young and the Restless,” will guest-host the event.

“The Black Nutcracker,” with choreographed by 2009 AUDELCO Award winner and Uptown Dance Academy Artistic Director Robin Williams, is a collection of African dance-on-pointe, praise dance, the cha-cha slide, hip-hop and classical ballet. The show also includes live drumming and music by Tchaikovsky, Ellington and The Commodores. Special guest performers Misty Copeland and Tobin Eason from the American Ballet Theater will join in the celebration.

Copeland is an American ballerina and has been acknowledged as the fist African-American female soloist for the American Ballet Theatre. The role of the Sugar Plum Fairy will be danced by Copeland. The role of Clara will be danced by Jade Nair, who has received a scholarship to the American Ballet Theatre School.

Uptown Dance Academy transforms youth into stars. UDA was established in 1996 as a dance recital school open to youth ages 3-19. It now offers a six-week, full-time summer boot camp for intensive training and pre-professional training in its Transformation Academy for advanced students and youth at the dance theater company. Currently and throughout its 15-year history, UDA has maintained its dedication to providing high-quality dance training to multicultural youth communities in the tri-state area.

Williams, UDA’s founder and artistic director, brings 45 years of experience and a consistent and enthusiastic relationship to the city’s dance community. Along with top professional dancers and choreographers, UDA offers its students many dance disciplines and performance opportunities. The students learn ballet, tap, modern, jazz, acrobatics, hip-hop and African dance.

“The Uptown Dance Academy has become a premier dance school for urban youth interested in making dance their focus. The mission is to train students in the performing arts while instilling a higher level of cultural enrichment, self-discipline and personal achievement,” said Williams. “‘The Black Nutcracker’ shows the efforts and talents of our students, and their determination is contagious.” Perhaps most importantly, though, is that “when you see ‘The Black Nutcracker,’ you witness hope for the future.”

UDA programs are made possible by the generous financial support from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito, Councilmember Inez Dickens, New York State Senator Bill Perkins and the Migdol Foundation.