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The 12 Days of Christmas, Ballet Spartanburg Style!

December 05, 2018 | Features

By Teresa Hough, Executive Director, Ballet Spartanburg


There really aren’t 12 days of Ballet Spartanburg. There are more like 300 days, give or take 52 Sundays and a few holidays that we are serving you and your community. I just thought the reference to the 12 Days of Christmas would be a bit catchy for the season. It is, of course, Nutcracker season for us: crazy, fun, exciting, bright and beautiful for all the right reasons. It is a glorious time for all of our dancers and our audience members who begin their Holiday Season with The Nutcracker. 


The Nutcracker is a gift to the community and beyond. What you may not know are a few fun facts you are about to read about Ballet Spartanburg and our Holiday ballet, The Nutcracker..  Ere go, the catchy phrase, the 12 Days of Christmas, Ballet Spartanburg style. 

I hope “Our 12 Days of Christmas” below will give you pause: pause to reflect on our mission and what we have accomplished and pause to ask the questions, “Have I seen a Ballet Spartanburg production this year?”, “Why have I not joined as a member?”,” Have I supported Ballet Spartanburg this year or in the past” and maybe even pause to ask yourself, “Why am I not taking the time for myself to take dance lessons at Ballet Spartanburg and dance like no one cares but me?”

So here we go. Our version of the 12 Days of Christmas-Ballet Spartanburg style. Forget about the partridge in a pear tree, but remember the 11 ladies dancing part of the song. It’s our favorite.


Day 1: Did you know that Ballet Spartanburg was the recipient of 2 prestigious State awards this year? In May 2018, Ballet Spartanburg was recognized by the SC Arts Commission as an exemplary arts organization and was the recipient of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award, the Highest Arts Award given in the State. In November 2018, we were told we had been chosen as 1 of the 10 Angels in the State of SC by the Secretary for the State, Mark Hammond, as an exemplary non-profit in the state. We have been incredibly blessed as the recipient of these two awards. It is because of your support that we continue to work and reach deeper into our community. Read about the awards!

Day 2:  Between Carlos Agudelo and Lona Gomez’s years of service to Ballet Spartanburg, they have devoted 52 years in dance training for our students of Ballet Spartanburg


Day 3: We have our own office therapy dog named Oxford who has been with us since he was a puppy. He is actually Lona Gomez’s dog, but we all claim him as a family. It is true what they say that a dog can help with stress in an office. Oxford brings us toys when he knows when are crazy in the office preparing for The Nutcracker and gives us the much needed, “stop and love Oxford” moments to help in a busy day. Oh, you will see Oxford on the stage in The Nutcracker. Make sure you get his autograph. He thinks he is famous.


Day 4: This year we served over 23,000 children through classes at the Center for Dance Education, productions, rehearsals, dance demonstrations, class visitations, Muse Machine in schools, after school with the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Upstate, our STEAM program to 10 Title One Schools, residences, summer camps, and programs. That’s right. 23,000 students exposed to excellent training and professional ballet. Not bad, right?

Day 5: We began a new program this year called Mindful Movement for individuals with early onset of Alzheimer’s in partnership with the JM Foundation. This program meets 2 times a month and on the last Wednesday of the month, we partner with the Charles Lea Center Adults to offer a class for their adults who can attend. Anyone can attend with their caregivers or spouses on Wednesday in our studios at 10 am free of charge. This is a new program designed specifically to connect mind and body with music to support the connection of neurotransmitters and to aid with positive socialization and interaction in a stress-free environment. The information is on our website. Come move with us!


Day 6: Well we are on Day 6 and I hope you are still reading because this is ONE SWEET FACT! The two dancers playing Clara and Fritz in The Nutcracker this year are actually brother and sister. They both began ballet lessons about 4 years ago and are both passionate about dancing. In 28 years of The  Nutcracker, this is a first for a brother and sister to dance these roles. Oh, and did I mention the entire family hangs out each day to help with selling snacks, coffee, or just taking walks around the campus while waiting on their dancers? Incredible love happens each day at Ballet Spartanburg.

Day 7: We now have a Parents’ Guild this year which so incredible. These hardworking parents work to create fun and creative ways to raise funds for the Center for Dance Education. They run a Healthy Snack table each day and they came up with the brilliant idea of partnering with Little River Roasting to present a Nutcracker Blend coffee to sell at Christmas-the perfect teacher, friend and family gifts. To date, this hard-working group has raised almost $1000 in profit and they are just getting started! It’s like they are the Energizer Bunnies. They never stop working! Thank you, Parents’ Guild!


Day 8: Did you know that the sets of The Nutcracker were designed by a French artist named Francois Cloutier and were hand painted by Grosh Studios in Hollywood, California?  The sets were created 14 years ago and back then the cost was $100,000! We are so grateful to the late Mr. Milliken and Milliken and Company for their generosity of the gift of the backdrops.

Day 9: We have a new website due to a grant we were awarded from the Spartanburg County Foundation. With their generous help in January, we now have a quality website to match our quality programming. Thank you Spartanburg County Foundation and to your 75th-year celebration this year, we thank you for your service to Spartanburg!


Day 10: We teach in our Center for Dance Education 7 days a week from 3:30-8:30. We registered 100 new students this year and we have a big surprise for the City of Spartanburg in May from our Center for Dance Education. You TUTU will see what all will be happening. Look for the color pink!

Day 11: Hang in there. We are almost to Day 12!

Day 12: So here is where you come in, that is, if you are still with me. So here is our 12th Day appeal to you. We are proud to serve Spartanburg for 52 years and we hope to be here for 52 more. For now, we would love for you to consider an end of the year gift to Ballet Spartanburg: in honor or memory of someone, to one of our programs you will find on this link, or just to support all of our general programming. Your gift is valued. Your gift is precious to us. Your gift is very, very much appreciated. Your gift, no matter how large or small, supports the quality of our programming. Click on the link below to help us to continue to serve you. And thank you for considering us on this 12th Day of Christmas.


So, we hope to see you December 7-9* at Twichell Auditorium for The Nutcracker. Oh, and don’t forget to wave at Oxford. Remember, he’s famous!

Merry Christmas to you and your family from Ballet Spartanburg!

*Ballet Spartanburg’s Sunday 3pm matinee has been rescheduled to Saturday morning at 11am due to the weather forecast of a snow and sleet mix starting Sunday morning. All Sunday matinee tickets will be transferred to the 11 am production. If needed, Sunday matinee ticket holders may exchange tickets for available seats at the Friday7:00pm or Saturday 3:00pm performance. TICKET EXCHANGES must be handled no later than Friday by 5pm. We apologize for the change in productions but feel the safety of all ticket holders as well as the opportunity to enjoy the magic of The Nutcracker this weekend is most important. Happy Holidays and we hope to see you all this weekend for Spartanburg’s Most Beloved Holiday Tradition- The Nutcracker. Please contact Twichell if needed at 596-9724.

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