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Sugar plum fairies, snow, surprises, and magic mix for a holiday favorite — Bristol Ballet's "The Nutcracker" at the Paramount

December 09, 2013

The spirit of Christmas fills the air upon the opening notes and festive greetings of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” performed by the Bristol Ballet Company, special artists, and guests on the Paramount stage December 13, 14, and 15. The full-length production is under the direction of the Bristol Ballet Artistic Director, Michele Plescia, who once performed the part of “Clara” under the direction of the Company’s founder Constance Hardinge. “The Nutcracker” performances debut with special school performances on December 13, the first showing at 9:00 am and the second showing at 12:00 pm. Public performances are December 14 at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm, and December 15 at 2:00 pm, at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Bristol, Tennessee. Seats for the public performances may be reserved by calling the Paramount Center for the Arts at 413-274-8920, or purchased at etix.com. Information about the school performances can be obtained by calling Bristol Ballet at 276-669-6051 or emailing mplescia@bristolballet.org.

A tradition of the Bristol Ballet from its early days, the more than 100-year-old classic “The Nutcracker” is a major undertaking and this year will include special features that have not been seen locally. Building on previous years’ productions that included “tastes” of candy canes, coffee, tea, sugar plums, combined with a growing Company now dancing in a new facility on State Street, Bristol Ballet is pleased to present this favorite with the support of the community. “We are excited to be resuming this beloved ballet production in its entirety after such a long absence,” said Plescia.

Veteran dancer and performer, Ashley Campos, will set the first act’s Holiday Party Scene and the great Battle Scene between the soldiers and mice. A cast of 60 local dancers and performers are joined by three professional dancers in the production, directed by Plescia. Erin Ginn, originally from Kingsport, Tennessee, and now dancing in New York City, will appear as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Joel Levy, from New York City, will appear as the soldier, the Nutcracker, and as the Sugar Plum’s Cavalier. And Mauricio Cañete, from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, will appear as the Rat King and as the Snow Cavalier. All three of these accomplished dancers will add to the professional quality of the production, and give the local dancers a wonderful and valuable experience.

In celebration of Bristol Ballet’s 65th year and as a gift back to the community, area children will be able to enjoy “The Nutcracker” at two special school performances at no charge. Sponsorship support by BTES, Anne Neese, and Mr. and Mrs. Mitch Walters, Mr. and Mrs. Kaye Crutchfield, Eastman Credit Union, Mr. Frank Goodpasture, III,The Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the Tennessee Arts Commission have helped make “The Nutcracker” production and celebration possible,alsoenabling many children to see it for the first time and perhaps even making it their first attendance at a ballet. Additional sponsors will be announced upon finalization of their sponsorships.

The Ballet school and company were founded in 1948 by Constance Hardinge. She opened the school after falling in love with the area, having been drawn to Bristol on a temporary teaching contract with Sullins College. Hardinge eventually settled the ballet school in the Masonic Temple Lodge on Cumberland Street, where it remained for more than 50 years. In 2012, Bristol Ballet moved a few blocks to 519 State Street, the heart of downtown, benefiting from more studio, office, and storage space, as well as street presence, where Hardinge’s vision now carries on.