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.
The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra's 17-piece big band—a medley of brass, bass, piano, and drums—aims to spread jazz like an infectious case of the cooties. Dozens of local concerts and festivals throughout the US and Europe have benefited from their playing, and four CDs have made it so fans can bring the magic home. To add zest to their stew of performances and bring new voices to the area, the ensemble also hosts regular guest artists, including world-renowned soloists. And the group further instills appreciation with a "Jazz in Schools" initiative and a free, annual "Jazz on the Square" concert that lets audiences take in the music in the open air.
Dance Tonight co-owner Jeremy Norris knows his students. "When it comes down to it, everyone really dances for one reason: to have fun," he states on his school?s website. Co-owner Emily Loyless and their staff of fellow NDCA-registered instructors share his sentiment. In addition to teaching salsa, west coast swing, and country dancing, their dance studio turns into a ballroom dance party on Friday nights where students practice moves from their lessons. Norris and company also schedule Zumba dance fitness classes, whose calorie burn far exceeds that of completing 100 Macarenas.
The Knoxville Opera sings most of its notes in a venue befitting the regality of its material: the Tennessee Theatre. The former movie-house and decades-old stage swathes performers in Spanish-Moorish design, a strikingly blue domed ceiling, burgundy velvet seats, and gold accents. But the opera singers don't keep their voices contained there. Education and outreach programs send them throughout the community, performing at schools, shaking the downtown streets during themed festivals, and aiding local construction companies by shattering old glass buildings.
Regal Cinemas Webster Place 11, part of Regal Entertainment Group's 6,653-screen family, enchants movie-goers of all ages with its wide selection of cinematic offerings. Films range from summer blockbusters and family films to special broadcasts from The Met, The Globe Theatre, and the White House’s crawlspace.
At Old City Entertainment Venue, revelers sip stylish libations, dine on gourmet snacks, and find time to dance amidst rustic brick walls and creative lighting. Patrons savor cocktails such as the Caribbean Bliss or 007 martini ($9) and absorb glasses of the signature sangria ($4). Bottles of wine ($16+), like lonely chefs, find their matches on a menu of sophisticated snacks such as the Four Cheese flat bread pizza with asiago, jack, feta, and mozzarella ($6.50). The roasted corn and feta salsa with blue corn tortilla chips or pita bread ($5) makes a colorful nosh, and the chocolate plate poses desserters with a threefold choice of blends, selected from dark, milk, strawberry-drenching, and sun-blotting chocolates ($14). Thursday through Saturday, the dance floor comes to life as kinetic lighting ricochets off brick archways and hanging curtains, sealing meals with bumping beats and good vibes.