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The Nutcracker: Covington’s holiday tradition
Shelby Sharpe as Clara.jpeg
Shelby Sharp as Clara. - photo by Submitted Photo

COVINGTON, Ga. — The Christmas season is almost here, which means The Nutcracker ballet is coming soon. 

This seasonal treat for Newton County and surrounding areas is performed by the Arts Association’s esteemed Covington Regional Ballet at The Porter Performing Arts Center, located at 140 Ram Drive, Saturday, Dec. 14, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 15, at 3 p.m.

This classic tale of a young girl, Clara, whose nutcracker toy comes to life during her dream remains the same; however, the changing faces of the dancers portraying the various characters infuse their own distinct personalities to result in a delightful and different annual experience for the audience. 

This year, the leading role of Clara will be performed by the very talented Shelby Sharpe, a member of CRB’s Senior Company and an Eastside High School sophomore.  

Encouraged by her mother to begin dance lessons at an early age, Sharpe quickly developed a love of dancing. She not only dances ballet but also enjoys CRB’s other dance types including contemporary, jazz and tap. 

When asked what she likes most about dance, Sharpe said, “I like the people best. Dancing is how I’ve met some of my closest friends. For me, dancing is also an outlet. If I have a rough day, I know I can come to the studios and dance it out.” 

Unlike many activities, dancing has the dual role of being both an art and a sport. There is a certain athleticism in dance. 

Sharpe clarified, “Most people don’t realize how physically demanding dancing can be. It can take a lot of effort for it to look effortless.” 

The techniques of dancing have benefited her in school, especially in band practice. A young lady of many skills, Sharpe plays the trumpet and is learning to play the euphonium. 

She stated, “Dancing techniques have helped me in time management as well as in band practice with endurance, weight distribution, and marching on time.” 

Sharpe will use her 12 years of dance experience to fully encompass the character of Clara on the stage. 

She explained, “I’m excited about the role of Clara. It pushes me out of my comfort zone because of the acting element. I’m not used to showing outward emotion, and Clara’s character needs both dancing and facial expressions to tell the story.” 

Sharpe’s favorite scene of The Nutcracker is the “Waltz of the Flowers.” 

CRB’s artistic director, Liz Stillerman, is quite proud of her student, saying, “Shelby is very humble but has a lot to brag about. She is a true leader. She exhibits quiet grace and is a phenomenal dancer.” Sharpe’s dedication and skills are clearly evident in her dancing. 

CRB’s school director and ballet master, Josh Schadl, echoed Stillerman’s praise of Sharpe by saying, “Over the years, I’ve watched her grow as a dancer. She has really pushed herself technically and especially artistically with the dichotomy of roles she has played in many CRB performances.”

He further said, “It’s nice to have a Clara that’s diverse. It demonstrates to everyone that prominent roles are attainable, and that’s inspiring.” 

When asked if she hoped to inspire others as a dancer, Sharpe said, “My goal is always to dance my best, and if I inspire others, that’s a plus.” 

Sharpe’s advice to other girls and boys who are thinking about dancing at CRB is to definitely join if they truly want to dance and are really passionate about dancing. 

She noted that, as CRB members, “We share with our audience. We strive to give them the same experience even though they’re not physically dancing.” 

Through its many programs, the Arts Association enriches the lives of people in Newton County and beyond. There are classes, camps, activities and performances for all ages. 

In Sharpe’s words, “The Arts Association has so much to offer. They’re able to provide a variety of sources of good entertainment locally. Because of the Arts Association, you don’t have to go all the way to Atlanta to the Fox to see a good show.”

Sharpe’s favorite thing about the Arts Association is the wide selection of high-quality programs. 

She said about seeing her first musical theatre show, “I had never watched live musical theatre, but I went to see a friend who was acting in one. The play was really good, and I will definitely attend more shows in the future,” which is a sentiment echoed by many first-time Arts Association attendees. 

The Arts Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which is funded through the generous support of individuals and businesses. For 30 years, the Arts Association has worked tirelessly to encourage people of all ages to participate in the arts, both as audiences and as artists, and to present world-class artists to the community. 

Since the Arts Association includes students from eight counties and 50 different schools, it is quite evident that Newton County possesses a tremendous asset that other counties lack. 

Perhaps Sharpe said it best: “I think having a local Arts Association should mean a lot to people. It’s a good resource, and there are a lot of opportunities for kids as well as adults. There is something for everyone.”

For more information or to buy tickets for The Nutcracker and other performances, please visit the Arts Association’s website,, or call 770-786-8188.