Ryland Mettee went to her first dance class when she was three years old. This December, the Asheville School senior is set to dance the part of the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Ballet Conservatory of Asheville (BCA) performances of The Nutcracker at the Diana Wortham Theatre in Asheville, North Carolina.
Mettee says she fell in love with ballet when she was around 11 years old. "I like the performing aspect of it," she said. "I love putting on a show for people, and I love how movement can evoke emotions in the audience."
While Mettee danced the part of the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Diana Wortham Theatre for the first time last year, this season she will take on the role in every BCA production.
She says she is excited to be part of such a time-honored Christmas tradition, and she loves the reactions from audience members. "Last year a little girl came up to me after the show to ask if I would take a picture with her," she said. "I just love how much joy this show brings."
Now that Mettee is a senior, she is also thinking about her future in dancing. She is applying to colleges with strong classical dance programs – which often involves a rigorous application process.
"My goal is to one day dance in a professional company," Mettee said. "To dance in college, I first apply for colleges' academic programs and then I apply separately to their dance or music school. Many of the applications include interviews, classes, auditions and other steps."
Mettee practices six days a week in order to hone her technique and rehearse for shows. She says that it may be a lot of work, but the opportunity to work towards becoming a professional dancer makes the investment of time and energy worth it.
"Ballet is magical if you get into it," she said. "In my experience, watching ballet is a moving experience – the emotions that the dances and stories bring out are really special. The work may be hard to juggle at times, but I love it and I can see the end goal."
The BCA will perform The Nutcracker at the Diana Wortham Theatre on December 13 and 14, 2018, at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. and on December 15 at 10 a.m. To get tickets and for more information on the shows, check out the event on the Diana Wortham Theatre's website.