- What: Appalachian Ballet presents holiday ballet classic accompanied by Knoxville Symphony
- When/Where: 8 p.m. Dec. 4 and 2 p.m. Dec. 5 at Knoxville Civic Auditorium; 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 11 at Clayton Center for the Arts, Maryville College, Maryville
- Tickets: Adult tickets $36, $31 or $21 in advance, $41, $36 or $26 at door; $5 off ticket prices for students and senior citizens; all tickets at Appalachian Ballet, 865-982-8463; Knoxville tickets at Tickets Unlimited, 865-656-4444; Maryville tickets at Clayton Center, 865-981-8590
There's more than one "Nutcracker" in East Tennessee. Other versions of the holiday standard include:
- Moscow Ballet's North American east coast tour's "Great Russian Nutcracker" is 1 p.m. Nov. 28 at the Tennessee Theatre, 604 S. Gay St. Tickets for ages 2 and up range from $27.50 to $87.50; senior citizen tickets $30 to $75, plus any applicable fees, at http://www.nutcracker.com
- The Ice Chalet, 100 Lebanon St., presents its 23rd annual "Nutcracker on Ice" at 7 p.m. Dec. 7-10 and at 2 and 7 pm.. Dec. 11.Tickets are $12 or $15 before Dec. 6, $2 more per ticket after Dec. 6. Tickets are at 865-588-1858.
- The Oak Ridge Civic Ballet Association presents its 47th annual performance of "The Nutcracker" at 8 p.m. Dec. 11 and 2 p.m. Dec. 12; tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for senior citizens and $10 for students. An 11 a.m. Dec. 11 encore show is designed for young children; all tickets for that show are $10. Performances are at the Oak Ridge High School Peforming Arts Center, 1450 Oak Ridge Turnpike. Tickets are at www.orcba.org, or at the box office before performances.
- Arts in Motion will present its production of "The Nutcracker" at the Roane State Community College's O'Brien Theater at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 and 4, and 2 p.m. Dec. 5. Tickets are available only in advance. Call 865-376-0295 for ticket information. The Roane County Animal Shelter will be collecting pet food at the performances.
The Appalachian Ballet adds a second weekend to its annual presentation of "The Nutcracker," dancing the holiday ballet in both Knoxville and Maryville.
Shows at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium are 8 p.m. Dec. 4 and 2 p.m. Dec. 5. Shows at the new Clayton Center for the Arts on the Maryville College campus are 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 11.
The Clayton Center performances are a homecoming of sorts for the Maryville-based ballet. The ballet once performed "Nutcracker" in Maryville but moved in the mid-1970s when its production outgrew performing space at Maryville College. The Clayton Center opened earlier this year; the ballet is one of its resident arts groups.
Performing in Knoxville and Maryville means more work for the 60 dancers, non-dancing actors, production and backstage crews. But two weekends also offered Appalachian Ballet Artistic Director Amy Moore Morton an opportunity to double-cast many of the featured dances in "Nutcracker." "I was able to make a lot more dancers happy. Everyone dances in every show but there are different soloists in different shows now," she says.
This year's "Nutcracker" could be called a sister act. Eight sets of sisters dance in the production. In addition Morton began some 15 years ago to pair older dancers with younger ones as big-and-little "sisters." In this mentoring program older dancers like 19-year-old Kristin Palacios of Knoxville help younger ones like 10-year-old Elena Overstreet of Maryville.
This year Palacios will remind Elena to bring her angel costume, help her get ready for performances and answer any questions she might have. Big and little sister often exchange small gifts at "Nutcracker's" end; Palacios still remembers being a little sister herself.
"My first year in 'Nutcracker,' I was 10. I was new to the area, and my big sister showed me around, and she would leave little notes on my (dressing room) mirror," Palacios says.
The real-life pairs of sister dancers includes Morton's daughters. Twenty-two-year-old ballerina Kylie Morton dances the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Laura Morton, 13, dances the main character, the young girl Claire.
It's the first time for Kylie Morton, formerly with the North Carolina Dance Theater, to dance the difficult Sugar Plum role. She is basing her performance on the variation her mother danced when she played the part. "I grew up watching her as Sugar Plum," says Kylie.
It's also Laura's first time as Claire. She's been getting pointers from her sister who played Claire for the Maryville ballet when she was 13 and 14.
Amy Moore Morton says her older daughter is a tough instructor for her younger one. Kylie Morton agrees.
"If she (Laura) hasn't done something perfectly, I have to see her dance it perfectly three times before we can go on," Kylie says. "Mom is happy with one."
"I like it when she corrects me; it makes me a better dancer," says Laura.
Claire and the Sugar Plum Fairy only have a few scenes together but Kylie Morton is already grinning about the last one. That's when the two dancers - hot, tried and sweaty - must embrace.
"When I was Claire, the Sugar Plum Fairy was just another dancer. You really don't want to hug her; she's sweaty and hot. And they don't want to hug you either," says Kylie. "But I'm going to give her (Laura) the sweatiest hug I can."
Amy McRary may be reached at 865-342-6437.
© 2010, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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