By Natasha Anderson
Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre (ACDT) and New Studio of Dance present their annual performance of The Nutcracker and The Mouse King at Wortham Center for the Performing Arts’ Diana Wortham Theatre Friday, December 1, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, December 2, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. for the general public. A performance for school groups takes place December 1 at 10 a.m. Though The Nutcracker is one of the world’s most famous ballets, the ACDT production is something altogether different. Unlike Tchaikovsky’s familiar version, this one is true to the original story written by German author E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816.
“It’s like no Nutcracker you’ve ever seen before,” says Amy Brown, whose family attends the show annually. “It is a surreal and magical adventure, that is, in turns, laugh-out-loud funny, grippingly dark and always visually spellbinding.”
Though darker than Tchaikovsky’s ballet, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King is an entertaining and educational show appropriate for all ages.
“ACDT takes a deep dive into all of the characters,” says Angela Gorman, who will perform in the show for the third time this year, playing the roles of Marie and a Snowflake. “Being a part of this production has made me think about the story of The Nutcracker in a whole new way.”
Gorman and other seasoned professional dancers and aerialists share the stage with youth of all ages, achieving a mix of playfulness and professional ambition that is an ACDT trademark.
“The students work so hard all fall, and seeing their excitement when it all comes together as they perform live on the big stage adds to the magic,” says Gorman.
Original contemporary choreography and colorful, imaginative costumes and set design add to the immersive experience. According to Susan Collard, ACDT’s founder and director, while this year’s version of the story is essentially the same as last year’s, the choreography has been tightened, the costumes improved and the set enhanced.
Wortham Center for the Performing Arts is located at 18 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville. Tickets to The Nutcracker and the Mouse King are $23–$37. Learn more or purchase tickets at WorthamArts.org.