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Appalachian Ballet Co. celebrates 50 years with documentary

The documentary will air on Saturday, Dec. 18 on East Tennessee PBS at 9:00 p.m.

BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — The Nutcracker has been a holiday tradition for the Appalachian Ballet Co. for several years, 50 years to be exact. 

"I've been involved with the company for 48 years. I'm teaching grandchildren of dancers who I was with years and years ago," Artistic Director Amy Vaughn said. 

While the Christmas classic is traditionally performed in December, dancers took to the stage in March 2021 with a film crew from Beyond Media replacing the usual audience members. 

To commemorate the company's 50th anniversary, Vaughn said they're creating a documentary that traces The Nutcracker back to their first performance. 

 "Doing the movie really puts a magnifying glass on our sets, our scenery, our costumes. Our costumes are so lavish and beautiful that you really miss a lot of the details out in the audience. You see it sparkle, but you don't see all of the beautiful handwork and jewels, so we really looked at everything closely," Vaughn said about some of the differences in directing a ballet for video instead of a live audience. 

She said she hopes the documentary puts the performance in a new perspective, even for people who attend the ballet every year. 

"From a director's standpoint, I was really able to guide the cameraman. When you're in a theater with an audience, they can pick and choose what they are seeing on the stage, but I was able to really hone in and say, 'I want this little pink mouse in your vision during this part of the music,' So, that was fun," Vaughn said. 

Vaughn said they're optimistic they'll be able to host some form of red carpet event when the documentary premieres in the fall, and she hopes her dancers can once again perform live on stage in time for the next season of The Nutcracker. 

The documentary will air on Saturday, Dec. 18 on East Tennessee PBS at 9:00 p.m.