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Utah Metropolitan Ballet puts on free, autism-friendly performance of the Nutcracker

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PROVO — Requests for tickets to a free, autism-friendly performance of the "Nutcracker" surpassed expectations.

The Utah Metropolitan Ballet hosted the one-night event for families with autistic children on Monday, giving them an opportunity to enjoy the ballet in a comfortable environment.

"How wonderful it is for these families to be somewhere where they don't have to worry about the behavior of their children. They can just enjoy and let those children enjoy something like this," said Ellen Christenson, president of the UMB board of trustees.

Through the organization's Autism Outreach program, they were able to cover the $17,000 cost of putting on this production. Christenson said people in the community made donations to make it all happen.

The event was so popular, they had requests for nearly 1,200 tickets, and were able to fulfill about half for the performance at the Covey Center in Provo.

"That just told us this is important and it is meaningful," Christenson said. "We are thrilled to do it. It is worth every bit."

The Geddes family attended the event with their son Jude, who has autism.

"There aren't a lot of opportunities we have to go and attend an event like this," Carolyn Geddes said. "We can't go to a movie because Jude wants to get up and run up and down the aisles. And he is actually enjoying the movie, he just can't sit still for it."

Geddes said she was grateful for the Utah Metropolitan Ballet's effort and hopes it expands to other performances.

They are really turning to our autistic children and saying, 'Hey, we see you, we accept you, and we have a place for you.'

–Carolyn Geddes

"They are really turning to our autistic children and saying, 'Hey, we see you, we accept you, and we have a place for you.' It really means the world to us," she said.

Utah Metropolitan Ballet puts on four to five productions each year. Because this event was so successful, they are hoping to expand their autism-friendly night to all of their productions.

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Ashley Moser
Ashley Moser joined KSL in January 2016. She co-anchors KSL 5 Live at 5 with Mike Headrick and reports for the KSL 5 News at 10.


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