Letters to the editor

This Nut seriously cracked

I wish to inform all of the hundreds of people who spent their hard-earned money on the Saturday [Nov. 29 Thomas Wolfe Auditorium] performance of The Great Russian Nutcracker ($39 for the orchestra seats) that they did not see The Nutcracker ballet. The original was choreographed by Marius Petipa, with music by Peter Tchaikovsky, and has been famous for nearly 100 years.

What we saw was a mockery of it. Asheville parents who thought that they were introducing their children to one of the world’s greatest ballets have been defrauded. Had our children lived in such famous arts centers as Columbus, Ga., or Myrtle Beach, S.C., they would have seen the real thing. But growing up here in the deprived mountains of Appalachia, they will forever think that Saturday’s mediocre music and middling performance of Moscow Ballet’s The Great Russian Nutcracker was the famous Nutcracker ballet performed to the music of the “Nutcracker Suite.” And they will always be poorer for it. I am enraged on their behalf.

The representative of the Asheville Center of Performing Arts, who not only allowed this travesty to be performed, but put her name on the program as the director, should resign in disgrace. The Civic Center should be ashamed. Everyone should have their ticket money refunded so that they can go out and buy a recording of the real Nutcracker and listen to that glorious music and see the genuine ballet, which, I believe some young people from The Fletcher School of Dance will be performing shortly [as part of the Asheville Ballet production of The Nutcracker on Dec. 11-14 at Diana Wortham Theatre].

I urge someone who has the interest in the education of our children to make a sincere effort to bring a professional company to town next year to perform the genuine article, lest Asheville become the Gatlinburg, [Tenn.], of the performing-arts world.

— Elizabeth Roebling
Asheville

[Ed. Note: The Moscow Ballet responds below.]

Well, nuts to that

As the company manager for Moscow Ballet, I wish to respond to … Elizabeth Roebling regarding Moscow Ballet’s performance of The Great Russian Nutcracker. Ms. Roebling’s letter suggests that the company did not perform to Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite.” We are confused by this assertion.

Moscow Ballet performs to Tchaikovsky’s classic Nutcracker score recorded by The Moscow Festival Orchestra [and] conducted by Alexsander Finashev at Mosfilms Studio in 2002. We are also confused by the reference to a female director: Our artistic director is Mr. Valery Lantratov, who is strongly committed to preserving the Russian classical tradition in ballet.

Unlike many American versions — which feature such modern inventions as The Land of the Sweets and Mother Ginger — Moscow Ballet’s Nutcracker remains true to the first successful Nutcracker production choreographed by Vasily Vainonen. This was the first production of The Nutcracker to be widely embraced by audiences and critics, and it is considered the classic, traditional version of the ballet by Russian choreographers and audiences. We are unclear on what music Ms. Roebling believed she heard in the theater when Moscow Ballet was performing.

On a separate note: We would like to thank all of the local performers in our children’s cast. They were a great pleasure to work with. The young people make each performance new for the Russian cast. It is a joy to see the production through their eyes.

We wish the Fletcher School of Dance success in their Nutcracker production, and urge your readers to support all local arts. Thank you to everyone who attended Moscow Ballet’s The Great Russian Nutcracker.

— Laura Lee
Company Manager, Moscow Ballet
Currently in Marion, Ohio

Pet owners: Learn from our sad story

He was never just a stray; Luke was an unexpected addition to our family. The very day I found him, every member of my family gave up a piece of their heart. Luke, an English setter, had the most loving personality I [have] ever encountered. As dutiful pet owners, we took Luke for an immediate physical. The report: heartworms.

When we agreed to begin heartworm treatment, we had no idea what we were getting Luke into. He experienced every type of complication possible — not because of the treatment, but from the severity of the worms. Luke fought for his life on a daily basis. As his lungs filled with fluid, he would cough up blood, and we rushed him to the hospital at least four times. Luke’s body eventually threw emboli to the brain and other parts of his body.

The resulting stroke caused imbalance, and my husband had to carry him outside and allow Luke to lean on him so Luke could relieve his bladder. When he threw an embolus to his testicles, it caused them to swell to the size of an orange. Luke has had multiple infections … with a white-blood count [measured at] 50,000 (normal is 10,000). At times, he was fed with a syringe. Even [after] the worms were gone, the damage to Luke’s quality of life was irreparable.

Not treating dogs and cats is irresponsible, and perpetuates the disease. The truth is, though, that I have had dogs in the past that didn’t get heartworm preventative. Without seeing the horror of heartworms, I didn’t take heartworm disease seriously. So I can’t throw blame on people for not spending the $5 a month on preventing heartworms for their family dog. All I can do is tell Luke’s story, and hope that you will tell it, too.

— Julia Gibson
Candler

You media: Cover elected officials’ decisions better

Last year, with no real, issue-based information, I mistakenly voted for Judge Patricia Kaufmann. I was mistaken because I have since heard from multiple sources that she has repeatedly denied parental-consent waivers to teenagers seeking abortions. This event has illustrated to me the glaring lack of issue-oriented coverage of local officials, especially in “nonpartisan” elections.

Aggravating this situation is the fact that most local officials have no voting records to look up, and most candidates will not voluntarily reveal positions on issues other than at the moment they vote. This is because [of] an old campaign-strategy rule: “Negatives add up while positives don’t.” Meaning the less is known about a candidate’s actual positions on issues, the better it is for that candidate.

What we voters desperately need to overcome this situation is better coverage of the decisions of local elected officials. Mountain Xpress does pretty well with City Council and passably with the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, but coverage of Buncombe County Board of Education votes, judicial decisions and even the rare split votes on the Buncombe County Soil and Water Conservation Board of Supervisors are sorely lacking.

There is virtually no way voters can make informed decisions without these voting records. If I can blow it after all the work I put in, the average voter doesn’t stand a chance.

— Alan Ditmore
Leicester

Your worst = my best

I was surprised at Worst Feature [in Xpress‘ Best of WNC 2003 being] Real World Astrology by Rob Breszny. That is the main — if not the only — reason I track down Xpress.

A little touch of genius resides in Rob, and I actually got the phone book out to look up his phone number and compliment him on his funny/serious writings and deductions. He is really on bulls-eye. His Sagittarius [entry] a couple of weeks ago was pure pipeline (not [for] me, [for] my son).

Thanks, Rob — and please don’t rearrange a word or planet.

— Iris Thirtle
Blowing Rock

[Ed. Note: Xpress readers were clearly mixed on Real World Astrology, also voting it our third-best feature. And while we’re thrilled you enjoy Rob’s column, and that it inspires you to pick up Xpress, we regret to inform you that its author is syndicated — Rob’s not local! (Visit his Web site: www.freewillastrology.com.)]

This is not America

What’s going on in this country when police are shooting unarmed protestors in the back? Nikki Hartman is plainly shown in a video of the event in Florida running from a line of riot police and [being] shot in the back, only to get up bleeding.

What’s happening to America? This is not how we behave here.

— Evelyn Johnson
Asheville

[Ed. Note: Nikki Hartman, 28, alleges she was shot several times with rubber bullets, once while retreating from police lines, during protests at the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit in Miami on Nov. 20. Letter writer Johnson includes a Web address (www.ftaaimc.org/en/2003/11/1997.shtml) with photos purporting to detail Hartman’s claims.]

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