Dancing with the (almost) Stars: CCU has a new dance companyby Corrie Lee Lacey
A toy soldier and ballerina doll floated across the Black Box Theatre, while two foolish elves were busy tapping their way around Santa’s Workshop. Raggedy Ann circled the stage singing “Where are you Christmas?” and tapdancers worked up steam to a 1940s USO dance.
“Show us some of that fancy footwork!” a dancer shouted.
It was a “Christmas to Remember,” a variety holiday show performed by Coastal Carolina University’s Department of Theatre’s brand new dance company called, appropriately enough, Dance Company.
The show, open to the public for two sold-out evenings of solid entertainment in the 90-seat Edwards Black Box, was a final exam of sorts for the seven students enrolled in the class. They are Townsend Pass, Adrienne Griffiths, Meghan Perry, Rachel Swindler, Jenna Tummino and Joseph Rosko, all senior musical theatre majors; and James Well, a junior musical theatre major.
The group of seven attempted their own rendition of the “Twelve Days of Christmas”: five gold rings were sparkling hula-hoops, and two French hens were chain-smoking Frenchmen. The audience appreciated the group’s comedic twist on the classic Christmas carol, as each dancer collapsed to the floor from mock exhaustion before the number was finished.
The toys of Santa’s workshop came to life, sending the message to children that “All you have to do is believe.” Raggedy Ann’s Andy played the mischievous role of Alvin as the group performed Alvin and the Chipmunk’s “Christmas Don’t Be Late.”
The group also performed a remix to The B-52’s rock hit, “Love Shack,” called “Toy Sack.” And Andy warned audience members that Santa was making a list and checking it twice when he performed an upbeat version of “Santa Claus is coming to Town.”
The production was a chunk of the musical theatre students’ grade this semester. And, judging from the looks of it, everyone should get an A!
The class/company, taught by Barbara Hartwig, a highly-credentialed and talented instructor, covers different styles of dance - ballet, tap, lyrical jazz, standard jazz, clogging, hip hop, about anything you might need in musical theatre. She also covers several weeks to choreography.
The students - three guys and four girls - were selected out of 16 who auditioned. They’re all musical theatre majors, so they all sing and act as well as dance.
The class is offered every fall. “The students are having a good time, and it’s building their skills and their stamina,” says Hartwig.
— Mona Prufer contributed to this article.