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Dancers create a little Christmas magic at annual program


NATCHEZ — Tonight, Ann Gaudé knows she will have to resist the urge to dance.

It happens every December when the director of the Middleton School of Dance watches her students perform “T’was the Night Before Christmas” at the City Auditorium.

“It is so much fun,” Gaudé said about the annual holiday program. “I personally have to tie myself in a knot to not run out there and perform with them.”

This year, more than 100 of Gaudé´s students ranging in ages from 3 years old to 17 years old, will perform at 7 p.m. Thursday at the City Auditorium on the corner of Canal and Jefferson streets.

Cost of admission is $10 per person.

Taking inspiration from the classic holiday tale, the show features everything from candy canes and toys to Santa Claus and his dancing reindeer. Rudolph — played by Lizzie Doan in her first solo — will make an appearance, as well.

“It gets us excited about Christmas,” dancer Sarah Saxon Falkenheiner said. “Especially when you see the little kids get excited about seeing Santa. It’s a great way to start off the Christmas season.”

Falkenheiner will play in the role of the Grinch.

Faith Anne Johnson and Ava Walker will perform the role of two mischevious children who help bring the toys, candy and other holiday characters to life.

“They weave the show together,” Guadé said.

Walker said she enjoys her role because she gets to interact with the audience.

“We are always on stage and get to see the crowd,” Walker said.

Like many of the dancers, Caitlin Walker will be playing many roles, but it is the role of the Spanish dancer that she likes the most.

“I like the red skirt with ruffles. I feel good when I am performing in front of the crowd,” Caitlin Walker said.

For the first time since Gaudé started the holiday production more than 10 years ago, the evening will feature the Elf on the Shelf, inspired by the popular holiday tale.

“The three and four-year-olds will go looking for the elf hidden in the auditorium,” Gaudé said.

Gaudé said the best way to describe the evening is “magical.”

And for many of the students who dance each year, the opportunity to dance is magic in itself.

Older students who have been performing since they were very young say dancing helps instill confidence on and off the dance floor.

“It builds character,” Reagan Rabb said.

Rabb will play several characters in the production, including one of Santa’s reindeers.

“It builds confidence because it is hard to push through. Some days you just want to fall on the floor,” Rabb said.

Gaudé said dancing is so much more than going through the steps.

“It is about feeling more confident and good about yourself,” Gaudé said. “Sometimes we struggle in school and struggle in other life things, but we come to ballet and we excel.”


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