Around town: Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre returns to indoor shows

DANCE LIKE SOMEONE IS WATCHING: Angela Gorman and other members of the Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre will perform at the BeBe Theatre for the first time since COVID-19 shut down performances in 2020. Photo courtesy of Jenbenmedia

For nearly a year and a half, members of the Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre couldn’t perform inside due to COVID-19 restrictions. So they headed outdoors. Members danced in creeks, parking decks, parks, factories, forests and numerous other places.

“We decided to start showing up in places all over town and just improvise, not necessarily for other people to watch, but for us to move and connect as a group and experiment,” says choreographer Sharon Cooper. “Some days we had live music, some we used the background noises, some days we made our own sound.”

The ACDT now is preparing to greet live audiences again. Its new show, Inside, Not Out, will mark the first performances at the BeBe Theatre since March 2020.

The show, which includes separate pieces choreographed by Cooper, Melissa Wilhoit and Susan Collard, will run Friday-Sunday, Aug. 27-29, at 7:30 p.m.

“During the shutdown, I had so many inspirations, ideas and thoughts for new work and felt like I needed to create a piece,” Cooper says. “When this opportunity came up, there was no way I could say no. The entire rehearsal process has been wonderful. I missed it so much.”

Each part of the show will address social issues, including Cooper’s piece, which expresses her feelings about the experience of living through a pandemic.

The theater is limiting seating to 27 people per performance, and it has put multiple high-quality air filters in place.

“I hope this return to the theater makes people appreciate the performing arts and how important they are to our community,” Cooper says.

The BeBe Theatre is at 20 Commerce St. For more information, visit

Living history 

For many older residents, the name Shiloh evokes two distinct Asheville communities. There is new Shiloh, located between Hendersonville and Sweeten Creek roads, bounded on the north by Interstate 40 and on the south by Rock Hill Road. Then there is old Shiloh, the community formed by newly freed slaves after the Civil War and later mostly displaced by construction of the Biltmore Estate and I-40.

Both communities will be discussed during Shiloh, Past and Present, a virtual panel presented by the Western North Carolina Historical Association and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute on Thursday, Aug. 12, 6:30-8 p.m.

“I think Shiloh, being one of the oldest historically Black communities in Asheville, has fostered a strong sense of place for many residents,” says Trevor Freeman, public programs director for the historical association. “Its status as a community for many African Americans after the Civil War to live and connect, its changes over time, its connection with the Vanderbilts and Biltmore, and its modern identity all reveal more about Asheville, and specifically the people who have contributed greatly to the city and region whose presence and stories have not always been widely documented.”

Panelists for the event include Anita White-Carter, who grew up in Shiloh and has spent most of her adult years in the community, and Maria “Ria” Young, a Shiloh native who is an activist, director, writer, author, screenwriter and playwright. The panelists represent different generations with unique insights and thoughts on Shiloh’s past and future, Freeman notes.

Jefferson Ellison of JAWBREAKING Creative will moderate the panel.

To register, visit

Fairy trails can come true 

If you believe in fairies, clap your hands. If you don’t, take a journey to Hendersonville’s Bullington Gardens — you may change your mind.

The Fairy Trail started about four years ago as a way to entice families to visit Bullington Gardens and cultivate an interest in gardening, says Annie Higgins, administrative director.

The whimsical trail winds along a wooded path for about 300 yards and includes the homes and villages of fairies and gnomes, all prepared by volunteers. It is open through the end of August, Monday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

“The smaller you are, the easier it is to peek into the windows of each house to see what is going on inside,” Higgins says. “Is dinner being prepared? Is someone taking a nap? Is that a vegetable garden next to the house?”

Visitors are sent through the trail in 10-minute intervals on a first-come, first-served basis, and short waits aren’t uncommon.

This year’s trail includes four new installations: the Fairy Queens Castle, Ivy Patch Fun Park, the International Church of Peace and the Sponsor’s Fairy Doors.

Bullington Gardens is at 95 Upper Red Oak Trail, Hendersonville. For more information, visit

Touch a Truck 

Last year, Hendersonville city officials had an idea: What if they gave people a chance to get a close-up look at the city’s fire engines, police motorcycles, recycling trucks and other vehicles? After all, kids love that kind of cool stuff. And some people who are, ahem, no longer kids do as well.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 put an end to plans to have such an event in 2020.

Fast-forward a year, and Touch a Truck is a go. It will be part of the city’s LoveHendo downtown event on Saturday, Aug. 14, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., on Main Street.

“Our HR coordinator, Lu Ann Welter, developed the idea for children to receive a passport and go on a scavenger hunt of sorts,” says Allison Justus, the city’s communications manager. “They will have the chance to visit and learn about each truck and receive a prize at the end of their journey.”

Kids also will get to meet the police officers, firefighters and technicians who use the equipment.

For additional details, visit

Sourwood Festival returns 

Black Mountain’s annual Sourwood Festival, which was canceled in 2020, is back this year but with a new feel and look.

“The focus is more on arts and crafts and less on manufactured products,” says Sharon Tabor, executive director of the Black Mountain-Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce. The downtown festival, which started in 1977, also has changed its vendor footprint and will have music on Black Mountain Avenue instead of Sutton Avenue.

Organizers have added an Appalachian heritage component, with craft demonstrations, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., and music, starting at 2 p.m., in Town Square on Saturday, Aug. 14.  Performers include Sorella Jack, Ashley Heath, The Circuit Rider and The Dashers.

And during the festival’s second and final day, musicians Christina Chandler and Madelyn Ilana will perform on Cherry Street at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively. This marks the first time the festival has featured music on Cherry Street.

About 100 craft and artisan vendors will be selling items on Sutton Avenue, Bank Drive, Black Mountain Avenue and SunTrust Bank, 200 N.C. 9, Black Mountain. Honey sellers will be prominently featured.

The Sourwood Festival runs 9 a.m.-8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 14, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 15. For more information, visit

WCU museum accredited 

The Western Carolina University Fine Art Museum at Bardo Arts Center has received a rare distinction. The museum has been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. “American Alliance of Museum accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies and to the museum-going public,” WCU states in a press release.

Only about 1,080 of the nation’s 33,000 museums are accredited, and out of that, only 16% are university museums, the press release continues. The WCU Fine Art Museum is one of only 28 museums accredited in North Carolina, and one of three accredited museums in the UNC system.


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About Justin McGuire
Justin McGuire is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate with more than 30 years of experience as a writer and editor. His work has appeared in The Sporting News, the (Rock Hill, SC) Herald and various other publications. Follow me @jmcguireMLB

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