Food for thought

Despite all its German names, The Nutcracker contains all the necessary ingredients of an American holiday classic: a little violence, a little drama, lots of overindulgence and a fairy-tale ending to boot. The beloved ballet is often performed several times during the holiday season by local dance companies. It’s a chance for young dancers to […]

The end of an era

Before the sprawling, red-brick Merrimon House was leveled this past summer, I managed to sneak a peek in the window of the funky former boarding house across from Deal Motor Cars. The front room was paneled in dark wood. There was an art-deco fireplace and a wide, elegant stairway with a carved banister. The dining […]

Playing dirty

Sex. Now that I have your attention … this piece is actually about, well, sex. It’s also about seduction, betrayal and scandal among the elite — and yes, there is nudity involved. I know, you’re thinking reruns of Dallas, or maybe Melrose Place — but what I’m talking about is the unparalleled predecessor to all […]

Flying lessons

“I realized that one day my home was full of clutter, my sink was overrun with dirty dishes, and I looked like a truck had just run over me.” — anti-clutter guru Marla Cilley Western N.C. native Marla Cilley, a.k.a. the FlyLady, just spent the whole day talking to People magazine. She’s also appeared on […]

Toy story

If a funny classical ballet sounds like a contradiction in terms, remember that opposites will attract. It’s a point the Shanghai Ballet gracefully demonstrates in its latest production, the playful caper Coppelia. So how did a Chinese dance company end up performing a resurrected French production? That, too, is a story of opposites attracting — […]

Special delivery

Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you I’m no great wit. Yet somehow I ended up playing Abbott to funny man Killer Beaz’s Costello. Our long-distance shtick went something like this: “Alli? Killer Beaz here, world-famous comedian.” “Really? World famous?” “Yep. And part-time swimsuit model.” “Huh?” “Well, you know. For those real long […]

Shirt tales

“Sex was never something to be shushed up,” announces Calliope Porter. The actress is half of the mother-daughter duo behind Girls Wear Shirts, a movement-theater play that takes its cue from the conversations mothers and daughters have (or don’t have) about sexuality. “Of course,” she adds, “we didn’t talk about it at the dinner table.” […]

From the front porch to the world

Despite her obvious proficiency at yarn-spinning, Western North Carolina native Sheila Kay Adams didn’t consider herself a storyteller until recently. “I was a ballad singer,” she explains. Adams was born into a family of traditional singers in Madison County. She’s able to trace the family penchant for balladry back to the 1830s, when the local […]

Every gyro tells a story

The 16th Annual Asheville Greek Festival is more than a nod at Asheville’s melting pot — it’s a celebration of the Greek community that, this November, will celebrate 80 years feeling at home in Western North Carolina. “Most of the families who originally settled here are from a place in Greece that’s very similar to […]

Finding the pulse in avant-garde

Painter/assemblagist Allan Kaprow didn’t coin the art term “happening” until 1959 — but, according to some schools of thought, the first “happening” happened at Black Mountain College back in 1952. That year, composer John Cage presented his “Theatre Piece No. 1″ with a little help from his BMC artist friends, among them modern-dance pioneer Merce […]

Turning memories into movements

“This is the transitional season,” announces Deborah Scott with a dab of trepidation. Asheville Playback Theatre is changing its successful format this year, and Scott, the group’s artistic director, admits she isn’t completely sure how the new shows will play out. “Our overriding concern is [still] to honor each person’s experience,” says Scott. The company, […]

Growth vs. grace

“Everyone moved here and destroyed what they moved here for. … We’re loving it to death.” — developer Greg Phillips of Mayfair Partners It’s a Catch-22 of sorts. The Asheville area’s natural beauty is one of the reasons people love it here. So they move to the mountains in droves to be close to said […]

Toward good vibrations

On August 16, 1987, the prophecy of Quetzalcoatl known as the 13 heavens and nine hells was fulfilled. Hell ended and the Harmonic Convergence began the following day. For those who were too busy watching the Mets beat the Cubs, celebrating Madonna’s 29th birthday or catching “Miami Vice” to notice, the Harmonic Convergence was the […]

A face in the crowd

“We all pretty much dance the cosmos — for me, it’s more of an intuitive process.” — Anni Paisley You know the feeling. You’re walking downtown and you see a familiar face — someone you don’t know but recognize because he or she is a local fixture. Downtown Asheville’s streets and shops are buzzing with […]

Big-hearted business

“There’s more to this place than meets the eye,” promises Stephanie Coleman, owner of Issues International News Stand (32 Biltmore Ave.). Walk in the door and you’ll find yourself surrounded by books, CDs, artwork and gutsy stickers. It’s cozy, comfortable and inviting. “People come in here and think it’s pretty, which is great,” concedes Coleman, […]

Their roots are showing

“Part of the reason for the tour is to prove that Celtic rock is a huge genre,” says Keith Roberts, front man for the Young Dubliners. And why must something already huge be proven to be so? It’s all in how you choose to define the sound, according to Roberts. “It’s any blending of rock […]

Man-sized contradict­ions

“By the time Eustace Conway was seven years old, he could throw a knife accurately enough to nail a chipmunk to a tree,” begins The Last American Man, Elizabeth Gilbert’s tour de force about a controversial local citizen. “When he turned seventeen he moved out of his family’s home altogether and headed into the mountains, […]

The intentiona­l tourist

Going green means more than buying organic produce at the Co-op. It’s about minimizing environmental impact, supporting local economies, and keeping an open mind. Green travel, or eco-travel, is becoming an increasingly popular way to see the world — or even just the next town. In fact, the United Nations designated 2002 as the “International […]

Taking mime out of the box

“It’s not been easy to describe our work to people,” admits Silent Partners founder and Artistic Director Hilarie Burke. Maybe that’s because “mime” still brings to mind the old-school brand of that art form — the guy in white face trying to escape the invisible box, or maybe Charlie Chaplin tottering across a grainy screen. […]

The gospel according to Michelle Shocked

“My approach to music has always been about the live experience,” Michelle Shocked asserted in a recent interview. She’s on the road in support of her new release, the gospel-inspired Deep Natural (Mighty Sound, 2002). “I went to church for the singing,” she says, “but stayed for the message.” The gospel, any kind of gospel, […]

The frontiers of form

Ceramic work doesn’t have to be a bowl or a mug to serve a purpose. Consider the landscape-inspired wall treatments of ceramic artist Don Penny, a retired art teacher from Hahira, Ga., who smudges the boundary between the aesthetic and the functional. “Some of my work serves as markers or signs, though I’m not quite […]