As the ballerinas took turns twirling across the floor, the next dancer in line hesitated. Her instructor said, “Clara, get on the music,” and she did. Except her name wasn’t Clara and her instructor wasn’t simply correcting her in a dance class. Mid way across the room it hit Olivia Miller that she’d just been told she would be playing the role of Clara in this year’s Appalachian Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker.”
“When it dawned on her she started squealing and crying and all the girls were cheering for her,” said Amy Moore Morton director of the Appalachian Ballet.
Four performances of the Nutcracker are scheduled for this year at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum. On November 29 and 30, the ballet company will perform the entire program for school children at 10 a.m. each day. Then on December 1 at 8 p.m. and December 2 at 2 p.m. they will perform along with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra for the general public.
Morton said Olivia was in the Nutcracker last year as one of many dancers. But in August she auditioned for the role of Clara. “At that time I was baffled about who would be my Clara and it was interesting. I thought about which child popped out and made me look at her and is capable of doing the steps. I had three or four I looked at strongly and Olivia was the top of my list,” said Morton. She knew the beautiful tiny blonde with great big eyes looked the part but felt confirmation when pictures covering the audition were printed. “There was a picture of Olivia. I just knew she was Clara. Even the photographer knew. She stood out to him,” Morton said.
Also new this year is Tyler Helton who will dance the part of Fritz. The 13-year-old is a trained ballet dancer who danced in the Joffrey Ballet School this past summer. He now trains and dances with Morton through the week. “He’s quite exceptional at what he’s able to do at this age and that’s afforded me another chance to make the Act 1 scene very ‘dancy.’ Clara and Fritz can do a lot together. For example there’s more sibling rivalry when Clara gets the nutcracker and Fritz doesn’t. It’s really nice to have both characters who can dance. They compliment each other,” said Morton.
Tickets for the Nutcracker are on sale now and are available by calling the Coliseum box office at 865-656-4444 or toll free at 877-995-9961 or at any Tickets Unlimited Outlet. Ticket prices range from $20 to $40 for advance purchase plus service charges.