After months of rehearsals, some of the central peninsula’s finest youth dancers are ready to take to the stage for the “Forever Christmas” annual holiday variety show.
Presented by Forever Dance Alaska, the show is returning to the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium at Kenai Central High School after a slimmed-down event was held last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re thrilled to be back in here,” Darcy Swanson, the owner of Forever Dance Alaska in Kenai said. “We’re excited and excited for our community to be able to come out and watch the show as well.”
Last year the group held a small-scale dance at the studio, but it’s not the same as performing in an auditorium, she said.
The 55 dancers — ages 3 to 18 — will perform in styles ranging from hip-hop, contemporary and acrobatic to ballet, tap and jazz. Swanson said the show will feature numbers performed with traditional Christmas songs, as well as a couple unique interpretations.
The group has been practicing for the showcase since the end of summer, Swanson said.
“We start with Christmas songs all the way in September,” she said. “We celebrate Christmas all-year-round in our studio.”
Marquece “Queezy” Blanks, a hip-hop teacher at Forever Dance, moved to the peninsula from Anchorage, where he was involved with the dance community.
He said he was pleasantly surprised by how many kids were passionate about dancing on the peninsula.
“These kids have definitely taught me a lot,” Blanks said. “To be able to work with the big numbers is really fun. For me, (it) really pushes my creativity and my abilities.”
Blanks has choreographed the hip-hop numbers for next weekend’s showcase, and instructs kids of all ages.
“Everyone’s really excited to be back on stage, so that hypes up the energy a lot,” Blanks said. “The kids are just loving the stage so (that) just makes everything better and the smile bigger for sure.”
He said he hopes to see a good turnout for the Christmas recital.
“It’s more about coming together and just remembering that we’re all in this together,” he said. “I would just love it if it was a full house.”
Swanson’s daughter, Chloee Swanson, is one of the graduating seniors of the program. Next weekend’s performance will be one of her last.
“This is my last Christmas show, so I’m super sad about that,” she said. “But it is like a full-circle moment, especially since we didn’t have our show in the theater last year.”
Chloee said she started dancing when she was 7 years old, and has been passionate about the art ever since. She has been able to teach a few classes at the studio, and intends on pursuing a degree in dance to become an instructor after college.
“I started assisting around 14, and I’ve been assisting classes for the past two years. And then last year, I actually taught my own ballet class,” Chloee said. “I got a huge connection with all of my students, which was super fun, and it really helped me realize that this is what I want to do in my future.”
The senior said she wanted to thank all of her Forever Dance teachers over the years for helping her grow.
“So much of their passion … really reflects onto all of their students,” Chloee said. “And if it weren’t for them there’s no way I would be at a point where I am now.”
Swanson said the showcase will be a great way for the community to kick off the holiday season.
“It’s a wonderful night of entertainment for your family, and we’re just excited for the community to be able to come out and celebrate the season together,” she said.
The show headlines at 7 p.m. at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium at Kenai Central High School on Dec. 3 and continues for a 1 p.m. matinee and a 7 p.m. evening show on Dec. 4. Tickets are $6 at the door or at the Forever Dance studio Nov. 30 through Dec. 2.