New program allows students to see Nutcracker ballet free of charge

JACKSON, Tenn. — Hundreds of local kids enjoyed a famous holiday classic Friday free of charge. Ballet Arts of Jackson presented The Nutcracker.

About 2,000 kids from across West Tennessee packed the Carl Perkins Civic Center for the first performance this Christmas season.

“This is my first time coming here, so I’m really excited to actually see ballerinas for the first time because I used to want to be one when I was little,” Maya Snyder, a student, said.

Snyder, a sophomore at Jackson Central-Merry Early College High School, has never been to the ballet before. “When they first opened the curtain it was amazing,” Snyder said.

Representatives with Ballet Arts of Jackson said a new program called “ticket buddies” helped pay admission for over half of the kids at Friday morning’s performance.

“We have corporate and personal sponsors from all over West Tennessee who have donated money, so that many of the children who are sitting in these seats today got to come here at no charge to them,” Ballet Arts of Jackson Grant Writer Carol Ann Williams said.

Special needs students and their helpers get some of the best seats. “They get the front row center right in front of the stage seat,” Williams said. “No one is in front of them. They get to see it first hand.”

Williams said grants from the Jackson Arts Council and Tennessee Arts Commission help make the show possible.

“I can’t dance, but I’d love to,” Snyder said. “It’s amazing to see people who are actually talented in it.”

Friday night’s public Nutcracker performance starts at 7 p.m. You can also see the show Saturday at 7 p.m. and again Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets at the door cost anywhere from $20 to $35 depending on the seat.