There’s no better way to capture the spirit of the season than adding children to the mix.
The Holiday Mix.
That’s the title of the Cangelosi Dance Project’s eighth annual holiday production, which is set for Friday and Saturday, Dec. 21 and 22, in the Manship Theatre.
And for the first time, the dance company will be adding members of its Student Company to the program. These are the children who take classes with the company.
“They’re 7 and 8 years old,” Hannah Willson said. “This will be the first time some of them will be on stage, and they’re pretty excited.”
Willson is a member of the Cangelosi Professional Dance Company. She also instructs the Student Company classes.
“We’ll be dancing with them,” she said. ‘“They’re going to have a lot of fun.”
Willson is joined by her fellow professional company dancers on this particular Sunday afternoon, the women dancers wearing the red dresses in which they will perform in the Holiday Mix. They focus on a dance choreographed to Luther Vandross’ version of “Impossible Dream.”
The song is both inspiring and emotional, two natural components of the holiday season, especially Christmas, which will be honored by several contemporary and traditional Christian songs in the Holiday Mix.
“We’ll be performing 15 works,” Kris Cangelosi said.
She is the company’s founder and artistic director, as well as director and choreographer of this production.
“The show will be longer this year, running at about two hours with an intermission,” she continued. “We scheduled the show later than usual, but I think it works out great for us, because it won’t conflict with other programs scheduled earlier in the month.”
Meanwhile, dancers take in deep breaths after rehearsing “Impossible Dream.”
“That one is definitely emotional,” company member Courtney David said. “This entire show is special to me. I love the holiday season. It’s joyous.”
Fellow company member Millenique Brown readily agrees.
This is her seventh year as a Cangelosi Dance Project member, having joined the company after being displaced from her New Orleans home by Hurricane Katrina. Brown’s story becomes even more interesting when considering the fact that she wasn’t a dancer.
“I was a gymnast,” Brown said.
“Her mother dropped Millenique off at the studio, and she wasn’t exactly sure what she was getting herself into,” Cangelosi said. “Now she’s dancing.”
And she’s using her talent to celebrate the holidays.
“This show means a lot to me,” Brown said. “It’s different from all the other shows, because it brings everyone together just like the holidays.”
It’s true. The Holiday Mix brings together traditional, classical and contemporary dance through such numbers as “Joyful Joyful” and “Noel.” The Children’s Dance Company will perform excerpts from The Nutcracker Suite, as well as a liturgical dance to “Go Tell it on the Mountain.”
“This show has a festive feel,” company member Marianne Alford said. “And performing it in the Manship Theatre, which is downtown where all the lights are, there’s a magic to it.”
After experiencing the Holiday Mix, audience members can sustain the festive feeling with which they’ll surely leave the theater by taking in the downtown holiday lights.
It’s all a part of the mix, after all.
Student Company: Amelia Johnson, Jemma Wood, Angelique Francois, Annabelle Chenevert , Vivian Dille, Juliana Smith, Carrington Lizzard, Hannah Kimbrough, Jessica Martins, Zahra Adams, Jaden Melilli, Carl’eigh Helouin, Elle Ellwood and Ava Ventress
ADVANCED DANCE IV COMPANY: Lindyn Kim, Rayne Daniel, Regan Phelps , Teddy Helouin, Elise Marchand, Lucy Jean Church, Ava Martin, Clare Toups, Allison Waguespack, Kelsey Mire, Khiem Truong and Lindyn Kim
Advanced Dance V Company: Caroline Marchand, Jamie Gaudet, Chandler Beaman, Hannah Willson, Sophie Davis, Chelsea Sparrow, Donayln Norris, Aaron Lafitte, Zoe Parker and Madeline Woolverton
Professional Dance Company: Marianne Alford, Nicole Judson, Robyn Oguinye, Courtney David, Jessica Kennedy, Hannah Willson, Aaron Lafitte, Maria McCain, Millenique Brown, Ashley Jeanette McCullough, Teresa Fardella and Le’Brian Patrick