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Arts Association presents 'Nutcracker'
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The Arts Association in Newton County will host the sixth annual performance of the classic ballet "The Nutcracker" featuring Covington Regional Ballet Company this Saturday and Sunday.

"It has really grown in popularity in the past few years," said Buncie Lanners, executive director of the Arts Association "A lot of time is put into the production every year. I think it is quickly becoming a holiday tradition for families in the area to come and see."

The ballet will be held in Porter Hall at Newton High School with shows Saturday Dec. 1, at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday Dec. 2, at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $22 for general admission, $19 for seniors and $11 students. Lanners said the two performances sold out last year and that tickets were going fast again this year.

"It's really amazing for a town our size," Lanners said.

The Arts Association has hosted the ballet since 2001 using locals and the Covington Regional Ballet Company. Lanners said guest ballet companies had previously been hired to perform the traditional tale.

"The Nutcracker" ballet, which is based on the story "The Nutcracker and the King of Mice" written by E.T.A. Hoffman, tells the story of a young German girl who dreams about a Nutcracker Prince and a battle against a Mouse King.

The Newton County performance will again be overseen by Artistic Director Jaime Robtison, who previously preformed with the Atlanta Ballet Company.

"I just think that each year the performances get better and better as the company gets better," Robtison said. "We are getting closer to a professional quality product. That's my goal, for this town to sustain a professional ballet."

Each year the number of people involved with the Covington Regional Ballet Company has grown, Robtison said. This year the troupe has swelled to 40 people with the introduction of an apprenticeship program for ages 7 through 9.

"With the program, they can learn what it takes to be a professional ballerina and see if that is right for them," Robtison said.

Local adults and children will also join the Covington Regional Ballet Company for this year's performance. Robtison said the adults mostly worked as actors while the children had smaller dance roles.

"People will not be disappointed," Lanners said. "This is an opportunity right here in this community to experience a professional quality ballet."

The entire production is a community affair, Robtison said, with sets and many costumes made or donated by local citizens.

"This year we are going to have a lot of new costumes which were donated by parents," Robtison said.

Lanners said the Newton County performance of "The Nutcracker" will be on par with those in Atlanta which cost as much as $75 per ticket.

"But it is a lot closer to home," she said. "And ours costs at least half as much."

This year Robtison will be joined by new Assistant Director Harmony Clair to bring a new flavor to the performance. Clair, who previously worked with the Boston Ballet Company and the San Francisco Ballet Company, will be in charge of the ballet's first act the "Party Scene."

"It's nice to have someone else who has that kind of experience," Robtison said.

Tickets can be purchased at the Arts Association in Newton County office on 1106 Washington Street, by calling (770) 786-8188, by visiting the Web site or at the gate on the day of the shows.

The Arts Association in Newton County will next pair up with the Covington Regional Ballet Company for a performance of "Cinderella" on April 19 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.