Dec. 19 would have been the premiere of the 25th annual production of “The Nutcracker” from the Southwest Washington Dance Center.
Instead, gatherings and live performances are restricted because of COVID-19. So, the dance center decided to find a new way to bring the same joy of the annual Christmas performance to the community on that very special date, just in a different package.
Southwest Washington Dance Center will present “Home for the Holidays: The Joy of Social Distance Dancing” starting 7 p.m. Dec. 19. The streaming performance of original holiday-themed dance numbers featuring local dancers will be available for viewing through Dec. 27.
“It’s something new and different,” said Marcia Greenfield, administrative director for the non-profit dance center in downtown Chehalis. “And it’s local so for people who knew these kids it’s pretty cool. We’re excited about the prospect of kind of widening the audience and bringing some joy and fun to this very different year.”
As with many creative endeavors, it has been a very different year for Southwest Washington Dance Center because of COVID-19. The center had been shut down in the spring because of COVID-19 restrictions and was able to reopen in September with limited class sizes and many new protocols. Even though they were able to meet in person, Greenfield said they knew quite early on that “The Nutcracker” would not be possible this year. And it ended up being the right decision because the dance center was once again closed until at least Dec. 14 with the most recent state COVID-19 restrictions.
“Our kids, everything has been taken away from them,” Greenfield said. “We were just fortunate we could open back up for a while and do things. Their excitement to be there was just palpable. When the closure came, it was like ‘oh my gosh. Not again.’”
“Home for the Holidays” will feature performances by 37 dancers from the ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical and modern disciplines at Southwest Washington Dance Center. The production was directed by Danielle Brosco and five choreographers worked with the dancers. The story is told through two narrators who weave a holiday tale that brings together the several dance numbers into a heartwarming Christmas story.
The production was filmed by James Waugh, owner of Notion Pictures of Olympia. He is the videographer who usually films the dance center’s annual production of “The Nutcracker.” Greenfield explained the dance center was able to hire Waugh to create a professional-quality production because sponsors who usually give to “The Nutcracker” signed on to support this year’s production, even though it was different than in years past. Those sponsors were: Shelton Structures, Inc.; Hillier, Scheibmeir, Kelly & Satterfield, PS; McGregor Auto & Muffler; Dr. Joe Dolezal/Innovations in Eye Care; Moerke & Sons Pump & Drilling; Security State Bank; Advocate Printing; and MDK Construction. To keep production costs lower, she explained they mostly used costumes and backdrops from previous performances and used their studio as the set.
“I’m sure it will look different than a staged production but I’m excited to see it,” Greenfield said.
Tickets for “Home for the Holidays” are $20 per device and will get you as many viewings as you like until Dec. 27. Though creating dance during the restrictions of COVID-19 may have been a challenge, Greenfield said they have also found new opportunities. For instance, she said while performances are often limited to the seating capacity of one theater, this production can be viewed any time and from anywhere.
The premiere of “Home for the Holidays” on Dec. 19 was specifically chosen because it would have been the opening night for the 25th annual production of “The Nutcracker.” For those at Southwest Washington Ballet, the occasion will not be lost, just on intermission for a bit longer.
“We’re going to hold onto that for next year,” Greenfield said of the 25th anniversary celebration.
Want to Watch?
What: Southwest Washington Dance Center presents “Home for the Holidays”
When: Stream premiere 7 p.m. Dec. 19. Ticket good for viewing through Dec. 27
Where: Virtual platform, viewing directions are sent after ticket purchase
Tickets: $20 per device can be purchased at swwdance.org
Info: (360) 748-4789