The Asheville Ballet performs “The Nutcracker” this weekend at the Diana Wortham Theatre, located in downtown Asheville.
The Asheville Ballet is North Carolina’s oldest non-profit professional ballet company. The company is currently run by CEO and artistic director Ann Dunn.
“I formed my own company so that I could control my family and my own career at the same time. We’ve toured all over the USA, Italy, and France with all kinds of performances,” said Dunn.
Dunn directs the Asheville Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” with this year marking the 46th annual production of the holiday tradition. Dunn includes a range of dancers aging from 7 to 70 years old to perform in the production. But she says that most of the main roles are performed by professionals who usually range from 20-30 years of age.
“Nurturing people’s dreams and ideas has been, and continues to be, my life’s work and joy. My wish for them is that they find something they love to do, then do it, and do it well. Whether that happens to be dance or not,” Dunn said.
Dunn has been involved with a production of “The Nutcracker” for 65 years, either choreographing or dancing, every year of her dancing career.
First performed in St. Petersburg, Russia, “The Nutcracker” is a holiday tradition that has been performed throughout the world since 1892, occurring primarily during the holiday season. The choreography for the ballet was originally created by Petipa and student Ivanov, but Dunn has put her own spin on the show with inspiration from her former teacher and co-founder of the New York City Ballet, George Balanchine.
One of the many teachers and former students at Asheville Ballet is Megan Jones Medford. Having grown up learning dance from Dunn, Medford has danced with different companies in New York City before returning to Asheville to teach at her former studio.
Medford has been a part of the production for a few years now, playing the roles of Clara and the Sugarplum Fairy. Medford says that this year will be a big difference for her since she will be playing the modern roles as oppose to the pointe roles.
Medford is also a teacher in at the studio and says she is looking forward to seeing her students perform in this production. Medford finds the most difficult part of the production is putting all the pieces together.
“Right now it’s the hardest part for everyone because it’s maybe the first time we’ve seen the other roles, and there’s more bodies in the studio, so you’re having to work around everyone running and going crazy,” Medford said. Showtimes for “The Nutcracker” are Friday at 7:30, Saturday at 2:30 and 7:30, and Sunday at 7:30.