Northeast Tennessee Ballet Academy to present Nutcracker

Published 10:49 am Monday, December 1, 2014

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Few things are more quintessentially Christmas than taking in a performance of the Nutcracker ballet.
During the second week of December, East Tennessee Ballet Academy is offering several performances for area fans to get their fill of the Nutcracker this holiday season.
The performance has been a tradition for the academy for the last six years, ETBA Director Cynthia Bernshausen said. She said the Nutcracker is favorite because the story is so relatable to anyone who watches the ballet.
“For so many children, this is the only ballet they will ever see,” Bernshausen said. “It feels like a play because the story is so clear. It is easily accessible to children and they understand what is happening.”
For many people, the story of the Nutcracker is a familiar one. It tells of Clara, played this year by Erin Augustine, and her family’s Christmas party. Her uncle attends the party and gives her a nutcracker. She becomes so enchanted with the nutcracker that when she goes to sleep she dreams the nutcracker comes to life and they go on adventures.
“Through the ballet, you are not sure if it is a dream, or if it is really happening,” Bernshausen said. “It is like your own dreams. When you are in them, you don’t know that you are dreaming.”
She said that even when people have not seen the ballet, the story is familiar to them.
“If you haven’t seen it in the theater, then you might have seen a version on television or in a movie,” Bernshausen said. “But most people for sure know the music. That is one of the most familiar scores of music in a ballet.”
Even though the story of the Nutcracker remains the same, Bernshausen said each year’s performance offers something new for viewers.
“Every year it changes,” she said. “As the dancers get older, they get more proficient and they are able to do more. The people who have come to see this ballet have witnessed them growing up over the years.”
The dancers have been working many hours and attending extended practices in the weeks leading up to the performance. Bernshausen said the production often develops into a family event, with multiple members from the same family performing or parents volunteering to help get the sets and costumes ready.
She said even though the dancers have spent long hours at the studio preparing, many volunteer to come in for more practice hours.
“That is when you realize it is starting to feel like it should,” Bernshausen said. “The kids are here, and more kids are coming here. They want to be here and stay and work on their craft. They want to get the pieces together so it all fits as it should.”
The academy will perform the Nutcracker at 11 a.m. Dec. 11 and 7 p.m. Dec. 12 at Heritage Hall in Mountain City and at 7 p.m. Dec. 13, 2 p.m. Dec. 14 and 10 a.m. Dec. 15 at the Gregory Center at Milligan College. Tickets for these events at $10 for children and $15 for adults. Call 512-1722 for more information.
East Tennessee Ballet Academy also will hold Clara’s Tea Party at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Medical Care office in Elizabethton.
Bernshausen said the party would feature appearances and short performances by characters in the main Nutcracker production that will be held in December. Attendees will be treated to tea and desserts while the Nutcracker cast mingles and dances.
Being a sponsor for the event allows those people to show off their artistic flair. Sponsors will decorate one table at the tea party with their own version of Christmas and Nutcracker-themed decorations.
“It is a fun event,” Bernshausen said. “Sponsors can decorate their tables however they want. They can really let loose with it and have fun with their decorations.”
The academy will supply the chairs, tea and tea condiments, water, plastic flatware, desserts and candies. The sponsors will be responsible for all other decorations including table lines, plates, cups, napkins, platters, pitchers, a tea pot and other decorations of their choosing.
Tickets are $10 and are available at Medical Care. For more information, contact Heather Hopland at 773-5498.

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