"Christmas Dreams" celebrates season through dance

sbirkenmeyer@vagazette.com

A young girl accidentally breaks the snowglobe her mother received from Santa as a child. She suddenly finds herself trapped in a snowy world where she must begin a journey to find Santa and obtain a replacement.

The Institute for Dance relays this story through motion with "Christmas Dreams," its holiday show returning to the Kimball Theatre for a 10th year Saturday and Sunday.

“It is really unique to the holiday offerings we have in Williamsburg,” said Kathy Palmo, the institute’s studio director and co-creator of the Christmas program.

Throughout the story, the heroine meets up with dancing flowers, toys that come to life and the spirit of Christmas itself. Roughly 60 dancers, ranging from 7-year-olds to high school seniors, take the stage to showcase the culmination of training 10-plus hours a week.

“Every year, I think these dancers can’t work any harder and they surprise me,” Palmo said. “They are amazing. Their experience is very vast.”

The performance features a myriad of dances styles, from jazz to tap and hip-hop to ballet. Palmo said it’s a good complement to “The Nutcracker,” a more traditional holiday production that focuses solely on ballet dancing.

“I’m so impressed with the students,” said Mike Maddocks, the performance’s narrator. “There’s a lot of discipline in this and a lot of athleticism.”

“Christmas Dreams” runs roughly 90 minutes and includes a prelude performance featuring the Stairwells, an a capella group from the College of William and Mary.

“They’re very good and kind of edgy,” Maddocks said, adding that the event aims for a hip, modern feel in the midst of some of the more traditional dance styles featured.

The show began without much of a story and evolved to include more plot, more characters and more complex dance routines as the community offered feedback and the institute itself grew. Palmo hopes “Christmas Dreams” highlights the talent within the nonprofit organization while encouraging others to seek out dance lessons.

She emphasized the family-friendly nature of the performance, as it provides a break from the busy period leading up to Christmas.

“It is a nice thing to just take a break from the hustle and bustle. As an adult, it’s so hard to do that, ever,” Palmo said.

But once the children take the stage and it becomes clear to the audience that they’re having fun with the act, she hopes that joy will translate to those in the crowd.

“Everything is happy and everything is mysterious and it’s fun — the show is just fun.”

Want to go?

“Christmas Dreams” dances into the Kimball Theatre 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for William and Mary students or $10 for seniors and children 12 and younger, available at institutefordance.org.

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

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