By Benjamin Cohn
Flat Creek – Second graders at North Buncombe Elementary School put on, for the 25th year in a row, a production of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker ballet for parents and students. Cyndi Gentry, a parent volunteer, gave her insight on the process of wrangling up hundreds of children, assembling them in costume and having them learn their parts.
“We start rehearsing in early November, like the end of October, the beginning of November,” Gentry said. “They start rehearsing, learning dances, learning their lines. Then we have rehearsals, obviously, nearly every day towards the end of November. Then performance is usually at the beginning of December.”
Last week’s sudden and dramatic snowfall pushed back the second graders’ performance, Gentry said. “Our performance was scheduled to be last Thursday and Friday, but we had snow. There was no school and kids didn’t get to rehearse, so they moved it to Monday and Tuesday.”
All told, nearly two months of constant training and rehearsals were consumed readying the kids, and staff, for the performances, according to Gentry. “Six to seven weeks of rehearsal,” she said, which took place “during school, during their music time. Every class has specials (auxiliary classes in the arts meant to supplement normal courses) and every day is a different special,” Gentry said.
“During music they would do the rehearsal in the music specials, until the end. When we get closer to performance, then we would maybe skip P.E. today and rehearse, or we might skip art today and rehearse.”
Gentry described herself as “simply a volunteer. My daughter was Clara, when she was in The Nutcracker in second grade. I volunteered then and I just go back every year. She’s in seventh grade now, so this is my sixth year volunteering.”
The instructor who spearheaded this year’s 25th anniversary performance is the school’s music teacher, Brandy Minnix. According to Gentry, Minnix “is the mastermind, she’s the person [to talk to].”
Gentry concluded her time with the Tribune by mentioning a fact she found interesting.
“This year we actually had a teacher that was in The Nutcracker when she was in second grade (25 years ago) and she performed. We had a scene called Mother Gigone and her crown, so she did a 25-year cameo appearance. She’s grown up, now she’s a teacher at the school.”
Editor’s note: All pictures are courtesy of the school’s Facebook page.