Dancing Through the Holidays

The soft snow piles on the ground, reflecting the sunlight as the smell of cinnamon swirls around homes and stores. The beginning notes of the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” can we be heard everywhere. It is Christmas time.
Passions, sports and hobbies are important parts to high schoolers and how they find their way through the four years.
Through their passions, students can find their closest friends and find a community that they identify with and feel safe with.
Junior Kelsey O’Neill found her community and friends through dancing. O’Neill has danced at her studio, Denise’s Dance Academy (DDA), for the past 13 years of her life. In addition to dancing with a company, O’Neill is a member of the BV West Crimson Cats Varsity Dance Team.
“I’ve made a lot of really close friends, my very best friends come from dance,” O’Neill said.
This year O’Neill and her studio are putting on an annual holiday show, similar to many different studios around the area. The preparation for the show starts in October with one and a half to three hour practices every Sunday.    The dancers spend their time learning all of the dances, running them and then doing the final dress rehearsal.
The show continues through December with the dancers performing at different locations throughout the month.
“My studio does put on a little holiday show and it is with our company en pointe,” O’Neill said. “[It’s] group of girls that our ballet teachers pick and we put together a number of dances, most of them have a holiday theme, then we go perform the show at multiple venues throughout the holiday season.”
This year for DDA’s holiday show, there is a collection of different, smaller routines.
Every routine has its own specific costume and there is no shortage of sparkles, glitter and tutus in different shades of red and green. Santa Claus hats also make an appearance to bring out the holiday excitement .
“My favorite part about putting on a holiday show is that it really gets me in the holiday mood and I really like being in pointe shoes, I think it’s really fun,” O’Neill said.
As the time ticks down and each day moves one step closer to the performances, each element of the show adds on to O’Neill’s holiday cheer and gets her ready for the season.
“Doing these shows really get me in the holiday spirit, with our costumes combined with the music we dance to and being with my friends all of those really get me excited,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill has been dancing for many years and knows what to expect each time she steps out on the stage, but she still experiences jitters and butterflies before each show. However, when she gets on the stage and hears the music, all those emotions disappear
“My favorite part about dancing is how I feel when I perform,” O’Neill said. “When I’m on stage I don’t think about anything else except what my body’s doing and I think that’s really fun because I get this rush I’m in this other world for two minutes and it makes me feel really happy and excited.”
Senior Alexa Montenen is another dancer at BV West. She joined Jody Phillips Dance Company (JPDC) for four years ago and also is a member of the school dance team.
Her studio is performing Winter Wonderland and a ballet production of the Nutcracker, which are both annual shows for JPDC. In Winter Wonderland, Montenen is a company member and in the Nutcracker, she performs plays a flower as a seventh level ballerina.
“My favorite part about putting on a Winter Show is performing. The thing that I love to do the most,” Montenen said.
This year Winter Wonderland, is also a toy fundraiser for Operation Breakthrough, an organization in Kansas City, Missouri.
Operation Breakthrough is charity that collects toys and give them out to families who can’t afford presents for their children over the holiday season.
O’Neill and Denise’s Dance Academy also collect and donate toys to children who need them during the holiday times.
“We’re going to go to an orphanage and do a fundraiser and give them gifts that our studio collected for them. There are people dressed up in Santa and elves costumes,”
Through dancing, Montenen found herself and a community she enjoys being a part of.
“My favorite part about dancing is having found my identity by being able to express myself without words and being able to break the boundaries by creating movement in a judge free zone,” Montenen said.
With dance and their companies, both girls are helping to spread holiday cheer to anyone and everyone. As well as helping people who are in need, and isn’t that what the Christmas spirit is all about.

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