Christmas ballet coming this weekend

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Allonge Dance Academy is preparing for its Christmas ballet that will remind viewers about the reason for the season.

Allonge Dance Academy will perform “The Least of These” at 1 and 5 p.m. on Dec. 4, at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts Birdsong Theater, 100 W. Finney Ave.

“The Least of These” is a reimagining of “Papa Panov’s Special Day” by Leo Tolstoy. Set in Victorian England, the story follows Papa on his first Christmas after his wife’s death. He wants to see Jesus but ends up demonstrating Jesus’ love as he does small acts of kindness throughout the day.

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“The theme focuses on how meeting the needs of others even in a small way that seems small and insignificant can bring about a change in them that can revolutionize their lives,” said Amanda Short, director at Allonge Dance Academy.

The staff worked for a year to rewrite the story with woven Biblical themes for this ballet as well as the music and choreography. Since August, the cast has spent more than 100 hours together, bringing the story and dancing to the stage.

“These young ladies and instructors are doing a phenomenal job,” said Nick Blount, a dance dad and husband playing Joseph in the production. “A lot of time and work went into this, and I want their work to be acknowledged.”

The Allonge Dance team putting on the production covers a range of skills. According to Short, the casting was open to local folks with talents or hidden talents to participate. Even though a show like this takes hours of hard work, the cast still has a fun time as they work together doing an activity they love.

“There is lots of giggling,” said Molly Brennan, a rehearsal assistant for young dancers, who plays Mary. “We have fun, and when you dance with your friends, it turns into lots of giggling.”

“I have enjoyed the opportunity to do what I love with adults, teens and children who are positive and encouraging,” said Julianne Tise, an instructor playing a townsperson.

As the audience watches the beautiful dancing, the main hope for this play is that those who watch will take away the meaning of the story during this holiday season, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“I really hope that people take away the meaning of the play,” said Marina Jernigan, a rehearsal assistant for young dancers who also plays the widow. “In the beginning, all Papa wants is to see Jesus, but then he ends up seeing Jesus in all the people he helped.”

Tickets are available at allongedanceacademy.com/least-of-these.