A Broadway dance

Blue Jeans and Ballet welcomes record crowd to annual event

Olivia Miller, left, and Grace Brown perform during Blue Jeans and Ballet Meet Broadway in the recital hall at the Clayton Center for the Arts.

Photo by Leslie Karnowski

Olivia Miller, left, and Grace Brown perform during Blue Jeans and Ballet Meet Broadway in the recital hall at the Clayton Center for the Arts.

Being able to pirouette made a difference in this year’s production of Blue Jeans and Ballet, both for the dancers and the audience.

Appalachian Ballet artistic director Amy Moore Morton said the crowd of 220 who came to the Clayton Center for the Arts recital hall saw and enjoyed an intimate ballet in a fabulous setting that showcased the dancers and the choreography.

“We truly got so many great comments from the patrons regarding the recital hall because they got to see the dancers faces up-close, and they loved the fact they could hear the dancers breathing and see how hard they worked. A couple of the men said that, while men don’t cry, they were so very moved by some of the pieces in the performance, they cried,” Morton said.

The opening ballet in the company’s season is always a “casual, fun” ballet, and, for the past four years, has been danced outside on the grass. Moving the dance back inside made a big difference in the production, said Morton.

The choreography turned out well, she said, and added that it was the best ever for a Blue Jeans and Ballet, in part because when the dancers performed outside on the grass at McArthur Pavilion, they were limited because they couldn’t turn.

“To add that movement back into choreography made it more exciting and interesting,” Morton said. “I think the audience appreciated and recognized the level of choreography was more difficult, and we could do it because we had a proper stage to dance on.”

Morton said the 220 on hand for the seventh annual Blue Jeans and Ballet, which was themed Blue Jeans and Ballet Meets Broadway, was the biggest one in four years. “I was really pleased with the number of patrons we had. We had a wonderful meal and to sit outside on that plaza was very special and nice. The weather cooperated and was wonderful,” she said.

Broadway tunes with a “blue jeans” feel -- “Oklahoma,” “West Side Story,” “Moving On,” for example -- were sung by Kathy Moore McDougal and Bruce Moore as the dancers performed.

The artistic director said the recital hall acoustics were fabulous. “It was nice to have the vocalists in that space with acoustics being wonderful. It made for an intimate setting,” she said.

Morton said now dancers will begin preparing for their next challenge. “Our main focus is on ‘The Nutcracker,’ our holiday classic,” she said.

“The Nutcracker” is set for 8 p.m. Dec. 4 and 2 p.m. Dec. 5 at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium with school matinees at 10 a.m. on Dec. 2 and 3. The production will move to the Clayton Center for the Arts with two performances on Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

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