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ART BEAT: Gwinnett Ballet Theatre invites community to 'Backstage Pass'

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Special Photo The public is invited to celebrate the grand opening of Gwinnett Ballet Theatre's new studios at "Backstage Pass" on Nov. 17.

This year has been a busy year for the dancers, staff and parents at Gwinnett Ballet Theatre. The nonprofit school and company -- Gwinnett's oldest performing nonprofit organization -- has brought on a new artistic director, a new school director and moved to a new location.

Finally, it is time to stop for one special evening and take a breath. GBT will be presenting an evening to celebrate the newness and embrace its new community with "Backstage Pass." This event will happen from 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 17 in GBT's new facility at 1800 Macleod Drive. The new studios are directly across Sugarloaf Parkway from Gwinnett Technical College.

"The event will begin with a grand ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the new facility," said Backstage Pass Chairperson Teresa Snyder. "We have Lawrenceville Mayor Judy Johnson, ArtWorks! Gwinnett's Sally Corbett and representatives from the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce to briefly speak and cut an enormous ribbon. After that, there will be plenty of fun and opportunities to enjoy great food (and) drink, and vie for fabulous auction items."

There is no admission charge to this event and everyone is welcomed. However, organizers would appreciate a call at 770-237-0046 to put your name on the list for planning purposes.

GBT parents and staff have gathered an array of items to auction off. Among them are a citron and diamond ring from Barron's Fine Jewelry, tickets to the LPGA's Champions Tour in April 2013 and a weekend at the Hilton Atlanta Northeast. Tickets to a wide variety of sporting events and arts presentations, plus classes for all types of subjects are also available.

Baskets of gifts are being organized to reflect the theme of GBT's upcoming production of "The Nutcracker." This family-favorite ballet will be performed from Dec. 1-16 on weekends. To reflect the Nutcracker season, patrons at the event can bid on baskets that convey the themes of many of the ballet's favorite dances. There will be a basket with "Spanish," "Arabian," "Russian" and "Sugarplum" themes among others. Goodies inside the baskets run the gamut from belly-dancing classes to exotic jewelry to dinners at local restaurants and much more.

One special basket will be donated from the city of Lawrenceville, GBT's new home. Titled "Waltz Through Lawrenceville" to coincide with Nutcracker's "Waltz of the Flowers," this basket will contain offerings from many of Lawrenceville's merchants and restaurants.

The food will be another reflection of Nutcracker themes. A champagne fountain will be available, allowing those who purchase a glass of bubbly to win a prize.

Partygoers will also be able to catch a glimpse at GBT dancers as they rehearse for "The Nutcracker" in one of the spacious new studios. Any patrons concerned about missing the big game that evening will not have to worry. A special "Football Room" with television hook-up will be available for die-hard fans.

For more information, visit www.gwinnettballet.org or call 770-237-0046.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.