It takes a lot of pirouettes to fill a half-century. And since 1963, Asheville Ballet has staged seasons full of fluid choreography, dazzling costumes, and French vocabulary. As the area's only professional adult resident company?and one of western North Carolina's oldest non-profit organizations?the ballet has become a creative pillar of the community. An average of 23,000 audience members flock to see their productions each year, marveling at masterworks such as The Nutcracker, Cinderella, and Swan Lake. In addition to their classical credentials, the company also gracefully tackles contemporary, full-length pieces featuring multi-media elements.
Nearly a century ago, the Hippodrome opened as a combination movie palace and vaudeville theater, spending more than 70 years hosting big names such as Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra. Following a double-decade period of slow business and bad hairstyles, the Hippodrome closed down in 1990. Now, however, after an exhaustive restoration project that reanimated the theater’s chandelier-lit arches, the mural above the proscenium stage, and the grand-theater boxes that hearken back to opera’s heyday, the Hippodrome reopens to the delight of Baltimore’s cultural landscape.
Train dancers with the best instruction possible. Give audiences professional work to watch. Inspire a love of ballet in the community at large. This is the three-part mission at Appalachian Ballet Company, and it hasn't changed since its founding in 1972. That aim to both educate and entertain informs every production the company performs, which includes classic stories such as Peter Pan, Cinderella, and an annual Nutcracker, complete with lavish sets and costumes.
Appalachian Ballet Company's artistic prowess has won it more than truckloads of roses. The organization was accepted into Regional Dance America's Southeast Regional Ballet Association in 1989, and became an Honor Company three years later. Artistic Director Amy Morton Vaughn has earned plenty of acclaim herself, including an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Tennessee Arts Commission, and a 2009 Teacher of the Year award from the Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts.