“To produce a first-class season of classical and contemporary ballets showcasing local artists and encouraging collaboration among the area’s performing arts.” This is just one part of the mission of Appalachian Ballet, and as winter arrives the company makes preparations for its annual presentation of the world-famous “The Nutcracker.”

And though almost all viewers will know the timeless and classic holiday tale, the Appalachian Ballet will do with it what it does best – make it unique and yet honor tradition. Part of the holiday traditions of many families and visitors to the area, The Nutcracker is but one of the company’s many triumphs.

After all, it’s 2018-2019 season included Bluejeans Ballet and the Blues in September as well as its upcoming staging of Peter Pan in March 2019. Enjoying its 47th year, the Appalachian Ballet remains the resident dance company of the Clayton Center for the Arts and continues to make its home at Van Metre School of Dance in Maryville.

45 Years of History, Culture and Commitment

Chartered in 1972, the company today is under the insightful artistic direction of Amy Morton Vaughn, who has maintained its dedication to classical repertoire, but who has also innovated and given it a unique approach to its programming. A talented dancer and choreographer herself, she has led the way for Appalachian Ballet since 1997.

She has ensured that the company adheres closely to its impressive, three-fold mission to “provide dancers with the highest caliber of classical training and performing opportunities, produce a first-class season of classical and contemporary ballets showcasing local artists and encouraging collaboration among the area’s performing arts, as well as promoting and fostering love and appreciation of the arts through performances and lecture demonstrations within the community.”

The collaborative spirit of the company is easily seen in its interactions with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, the Knoxville Youth Symphony and the Knoxville Opera Company, as well as area performing arts groups. During its three-program season, these groups play an active role in the performances. And yet, the company is also very active in educational outreach as a means of ensuring that the entire community benefits from its activities.

Start Your Own Holiday Tradition

If you have yet to catch one of the annual performances of The Nutcracker, you still have time to get your tickets for performances in both Knoxville and Maryville. This year they will do shows Dec. 3 and 4 at the Civic Auditorium in downtown Knoxville, and Dec. 9 and 10 at the Clayton Center for the Arts on the Maryville College campus, while also offering school matinee shows on November 29 and 30 at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium (and teachers can even receive a curriculum guide to make the most of the experience).

Whether you have ever seen a live ballet performance or not, you’ll love any time spent watching East Tennessee’s leading ballet company offer its own interpretations of some of the world’s most famous productions.