There have already been months of rehearsals and practice runs, but this week the focus pulls tight for this year’s performances of Asheville Ballet’s Nutcracker. Here’s how it came together, yesterday and today.

First thing, draw a line: this goes to the theater, this does not. You hope the does-not aisle hides no critical bits. You hope the goes heap does not include any unnecessary clutter. It’s a jig-saw puzzle with thousands of pieces.

Here we go again.

Nutcracker kit: just assemble and add dancers.

This morning: the load out from the studio and load into the theater. Hang the drops, build the tree and scenery, Mother Ginger and the teapot, distribute the costumes and props.

Final studio run-through, this afternoon.

Tomorrow: finish dressing the stage, spike crucial places and routes. Fit the gels, focus the lights, cable everything, coordinate cues for the tech crew and company, pass over the final version of the music for the first theater run-through. On Tuesday, tech; Wednesday, dress; Thursday, absurdly early, the school shows; Friday and Saturday and Sunday, performances. Strike, load out from theater, load back into studio.

Next year, repeat, except there will be a hundred differences, new dancers, new costumes, new dances.

It is an astonishingly complex cooperative endeavor: seventy-some dancers (supported by a couple hundred parents and siblings), dancing a hundred-sixty parts, wearing half a thousand costume pieces. There are a few four to five year-olds, a few sixty-somethings, everything between, peaking from pre- to late-teen. Many seasoned professionals, a few novices, several seasoned teens, some remarkably clever little kids.

We are not equal behind the curtain, a cluster of bossy adults tries to run things, but when the curtain is up, everybody’s on the same stage, everybody dances. We’ve done this for fifty years. If you lined up all the dancers who’ve appeared in our show, end to end, they’d stretch from Albuquerque to Boston. Probably. Something like that.

Tina Covelli's photo.


Asheville Ballet’s Nutcracker opens this week, and there are two other Nuts in Asheville this year, one before and one after ours, plus a few thousand more around the country: classical, modern, burlesque, solemn, and silly. Some are exquisite, some kind of awful. Tchaikovsky rules American stages this month. Also TV ads and malls and elevators. Nothing else even comes close.

You’ll feel so foolish and so forlorn if you don’t come to the Diana Wortham Theatre this weekend for Nutcracker. Don’t do that to yourself.

(I know, we defeated the redcoats two hundred years ago so we didn’t have to keep on misspelling theater and colour; but in the provinces we pretend a sophistication we do not possess and, unforced, give Cornwallis back his sword.)

Joke: What is a city with three Nuts? Oh, probably not funny.

Do come.