Audie Clark pulled on her toe shoes last Friday night to dance the role of Clara in the “Nutcracker” ballet at the Grand Opera House just as her mother, Jenny Clark, had done 30 years ago, the first year Jean Weaver saw her dream of producing Tchaikovsky’s classic become a reality.
Weaver, founder and artistic director of the Nutcracker of Middle Georgia Inc., has watched the ballet rise from its infancy to the ambitious production it is today, one with visiting artists and lavish set designs. Barely in a position to afford even one outstanding guest dancer in the early years, this year’s spectacular performance included six professional dancers to accompany a cast of nearly 150 ballet students.
Watching the quality of the dancing, it is hard to believe they are amateurs, for Weaver is a legendary taskmaster, urging her students to perfect their art. Those efforts were not lost on Marian and Hank Clark or Jean Thomas, who were there to watch the Clarks’ granddaughter in her starring role.
This popular annual holiday tradition is one more reason Macon can boast a schedule of entertainment throughout the year which rivals that of our urban neighbors to the north. Weaver is generous in giving credit to the dedicated volunteers, sponsors and parents who spend months preparing for the “Nutcracker” and raising the funds to support a favorite event for years to come.
FIRST TREE AT THE FORT
According to Marty Willett, project coordinator at historic Fort Hawkins, research indicates the fort celebrated Christmas with one of the first decorated trees in the country. Although trees are documented in American homes beginning in the 1850s, a cedar tree was decorated at the fort, with biblical scripture, by Moravian missionaries from North Carolina in 1805, according to Willett.
The scene was re-created in the Visitors Center to take visitors back to the earliest days of the fort’s holiday history when he and a band of volunteers decorated a freshly cut cedar tree with small disks of wood inscribed with scriptural passages.
The fort is open on weekends, so this is your last Sunday before Christmas to give your family a peek into the past and find unique presents such as Native American art and silver jewelry for the good little (and big) boys and girls on your list.
JAMMIN’ AND JAZZIN’ AT HAY HOUSE
Little Eddie (aka Edward Clark) and the Winter Wonder Band, sponsored by the Jazz Association of Macon (JAM), entertained about 50 fans of one of the oldest music genres, New Orleans’ gift to a nation of immigrants, on Dec. 14, for a champagne brunch at Hay House.
With his band of brothers, Clark entertained with old holiday favorites as interpreted by a jazz ensemble, encouraging the guests to join in the scat singing while lifting a toast to a merry season, wrapped in the sybaritic holiday décor of Hay House.
Freda and Larry Hoff, who have followed Clark’s careers as a pediatrician, his day job, and as a jazz man, were on hand, enthusiastically supporting one of their favorite musicians and JAM, which plans events throughout the year to cultivate an interest in jazz. If you are interested in joining JAM, visit www.maconjazz.org.
EXPLORING THE FORCES OF NATURE
When a local museum was cleaning out storage closets, Dot Brown was there to pick up a couple of display iguanas, which had seen better days, and fell in love. Brown, a Macon native, holds a master’s degree in painting and has taught art throughout her professional life, always finding time to work in her studio.
We are fortunate she chose to abandon portraits years ago, because her exploration of the forces of nature produces canvases that are literally and figuratively larger than life. The Lamar Arts Gallery in Barnesville is the ideal venue for Brown’s triptychs, diptychs and individual paintings, for the walls are as expansive as her imagination.
A repetitive theme in many of the paintings is the familiar, which becomes mystical and mysterious when portrayed as nature’s constant energy. The whorl of a nest, the audacious leaves of tropical plants and, of course, an iguana, are seen as graphic symbolism of the ebb and flow of life.
“Edge of Knowing,” a triptych, is the largest of the paintings, measuring 16 feet wide and depicts the eternal curve, which, in nature, repeats itself in replenishing resources on the planet. The exhibition closed this week, but keep in touch because Brown is planning to take her show on the road. Lamar Arts Gallery is a hidden gem just a scenic country drive away. For a schedule of events, visit www.lamararts.org.
Katherine Walden is a freelance writer and interior designer in Macon. Contact her at 478-742-2224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.