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The 12 Days of Christmas, Part Deux

December 11, 2019 | Features

By Teresa Hough, Executive Director, Ballet Spartanburg


We are asked each year as a partner organization for the Chapman Cultural Center to write a blog about our organization. I always wonder if anyone actually reads a blog. I am not a blog reader. Really, I am not a blog writer. What I am right now is Nutcracker crazy. That’s right. It is our crazy, fun, exciting, bright and beautiful time of the year. It is a time of blessings and family and a glorious time for all of our dancers and audience members who begin their Holiday Season with The Nutcracker. 


The Nutcracker is a gift to our community and beyond. What you may not know are a few fun and funny facts about Ballet Spartanburg. I’ll give you 12 of them. Ergo, the catchy phrase, the 12 Days of Christmas, Nutcracker style. Part Deux. We are fancy with our French here since ballet spread throughout France as a genre of concert dance and has evolved to what we present on stage today.


Day 1: Did you know that Carlos Agudelo has been with Ballet Spartanburg for 29 years? Carlos created the first professional production of the Nutcracker presented by Ballet Spartanburg. The first production was on the Twichell stage. Right where are today. Don’t you think Carlos still looks like he is 38 years old? Carlos just does not age! Neither does The Nutcracker. Every season Carlos adds new choreography, new costumes, new characters. Always beautiful. Always full of love. Yep, that’s The Nutcracker. 

Day 2: Between Carlos Agudelo and Lona Gomez’s years of service to Ballet Spartanburg, they have devoted 54 years in dance training for our students of Ballet Spartanburg.


Day 3: Did you know that Lona Gomez was a professional ballet dancer for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and the Boston Ballet? Well, she was. Now she shares her core of knowledge about ballet with all of our teachers and ballet students. And to that pointe, did you know that Miss Lona performed in over 500 performances of The Nutcracker? Miss Lona danced over 14 roles in The Nutcracker. She was even a mouse as a young dancer.

Day 4: This year we served over 24,000 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 15 Title One Schools, residences, summer camps and programs. That’s right. 24,000 students exposed to excellent training and professional ballet. Not bad, right?


Day 5: I sometimes wonder if people really read these blogs. So, if you are hanging in there, email the following, “I just read Day 5 and I would like 4 free Nutcracker tickets.” The first to email by Thursday by 5 PM wins! 

Day 6: For the past two seasons at Twichell, we have had SNOW (oh, that dreaded word!)  before our Nutcracker performances. Two years ago, we had to reschedule our Friday performance. Last year, we had to reschedule the Sunday performance. SNOW WAY! YES WAY! Despite all of the craziness, each year we have increased our audience by 200 new attendees. However, this year if anyone mentions the white stuff my answer is, “Snow thank you.”

Day 7: Our Parents’ Guild is simply the best. Not only do they sell coffee, T-shirts, and healthy snacks each week, this year they decided to donate homemade soup during long Friday night rehearsals for The Nutcracker. Not only thoughtful for all of our students and parents, the soup dinners were a fundraiser as they donated all of the soup and charge a mere $5. Did I mention they also made cornbread and muffins as well to go with the soup? Did I say they are the best? They are and we are blessed with their energy and talent.

Day 8: For the past 5 years, Ballet Spartanburg has offered a sensory sensitive performance of The Nutcracker for our community’s multi-sensory challenged children. Over the past five years, we have offered this opportunity to over 3000 children. We are the only organization in the state to offer a professional ballet with accommodations. It is a special time for these children, their teachers, caregivers and parents. We are able to offer this beautiful holiday tradition due to the kindness of businesses and individual sponsors. It is so heartwarming time at for everyone on Friday morning.


Day 9: Our Board of Trustees is in the middle of working on a new strategic plan for the next three years for Ballet Spartanburg. Strategic plans are imperative to forward an organization into financial security and create a positive trajectory to enhance the services we provide for our community. We received a fall grant from the Spartanburg County Foundation to support this year long process with the Board of Trustees and our strategic consultant. We are so fortunate to have the Spartanburg County Foundation in our community. Thank you!

Day 10: We teach in our Center for Dance Education 7 days a week from 3:30 - 8:30 PM. We registered 112 new students this year and in August we covered the Chapman Cultural Center in pink tutus! We had a great time taking pictures of our business advertisers wearing tutus or tutu pins and sharing them on Instagram. We had so many kind gentlemen who wore a tutu for the pictures. Shall I mention Johnny at White’s Exxon, Johnny and Andrew at Bolton James Alignment, Todd and Harry at Clayton Construction, Chris at Horace Mann Insurance and Frank Manello for Manello Construction? As we told them, “Real Men Wear TUTUs”. Thanks guys!


Day 11: Hang in there. We are almost to Day 12! Only the real blog readers are still with me, right?

Day 12: So here is where you come in, that is, if you are still with me. We are proud to serve Spartanburg for 54 years and we hope to be here for 54 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 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 here to help us to continue to serve you. And thank you for considering us on this 12th Day of Christmas.

Merry Christmas to you and your family from Ballet Spartanburg!


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