The Louisville Ballet's performances of the Nutcracker start Saturday. It's the most popular time of the year for the ballet with a diverse audience of all ages. A new group is trying to keep that momentum year-round.

Relevé Society is trying to make sure you know the ballet is for everyone, not just the elite. This group is your ticket to not only watch a performance but get to know the performers.

Being part of the Louisville Ballet is a full-time job. Louisville Ballet Dancer Leighanne Albrechta is dancing as Marie this year. She says this is at least her 15th performance of the Nutcracker.

"Officially work starts at 9:30 every day and we work until six. Most of us get here an hour early because we need to warm up and be ready to start at 9:30," Albrechta said.

Louisville Ballet Dancer Brandon Ragland says ballet puts your body through a lot of work.

"It takes a lot of both physical and mental strength... Some people cross train, some people participate in Pilates, and yoga, and swim… I keep dancing because I am an artist," Ragland said.

Albrechta and Ragland are getting their final practices in before opening night of the Nutcracker.

Ariana Shah and Charles Buddeke are also getting ready for the first night of the Nutcracker but as fans.

"It's so nice to go to a performance and see basically your friends on stage and be able to talk to them afterwards," Shah said.

Ariana Shah is president of Relevé Society. She's danced ballet before but Buddeke hasn't. He just grew up going to performances.

"I really wanted a bunch of friends to go with," Buddeke said.

So he helped found Relevé Society.

"Really bare bones at the beginning. It was just a couple of us really actively recruiting everybody, and now it's just this organic group and I can kind of sit back and watch everybody else have a great time. It's awesome.," Buddeke said.

Now there are close to 50 members enjoying the opportunity to meet the dancers, get discounts to productions, and access to special events.

"It is designed to cultivate the next generation of ballet supporters and have a good time while you're at it," Buddeke said.

It's a goal Ragland and the other dancers are thankful for. They want people to know their performances cover a wide range of styles.

"We cover all bases. It's not this stuffy...not only for the elite. We cover everything in our repertoire in our season, from dancing in tennis shoes and bare feet, to being in pointe shoes and tights, to dancing to popular music, to collaborating with bands as well as classical music," Ragland said.

Their diverse set of performances in a season can show you ballet is not just for a certain group, but if you need a little nudge, there's Relevé Society.

"They've now become some of our best and closest friends and fans which is really fun to come out after a show and have those people there waiting for you,"Albrechta said.

Buddeke says he's happy about the growth, but he would like to see the group continue to be a welcoming place where you are really integrated into the friend group.

The next Relevé Society event is December 9th and anyone is welcome!

The group will meet at Mussel and Burger Bar downtown at 5:30 in the evening. From there, the group will head over to the opening night performance of the Nutcracker. View the Facebook event for more information here.

Membership in the Relevé Society Includes:
-1 ticket to Raise the Barre
-2 tickets to any main-stage production in Section A
-Discounts on all other tickets as well as a special subscription option available to only members
-Invitations to Open Rehearsal and Post Performance Receptions
The cost is a $250 annual donation of $21 a month.

You can also still buy tickets to The Brown-Forman Nutcracker. Performances run from Saturday, December 9th through Saturday, December 23rd at The Kentucky Center.

Location: The Kentucky Center, 501 W Main St
Price: Tickets start at $35.50
Running Time: Approximately 1 hour 50 minutes
Access Services: Accessible Seating, Assistive Listening System, Audio Description (12/15 @ 7:30PM)
Contact: 502-566-5111 (V) or 502-566-5140 (TTY)

For more information on the Louisville Ballet Relevé Society head to their website or find them on Facebook.