By Joe Johnson
Local Precision dance troupe The Carolina Snowbelles gathered at the newly renovated Appalachian Theatre last weekend to debut their renowned holiday show with resounding success. Both the Friday evening and Saturday afternoon performances were sold out.
The Carolina Snowbelles aimed to create a new holiday tradition in downtown Boone with their debut production of A Carolina Snowbelle Christmas; the 22-member dance troupe has been rehearsing the 90 minute show since August – their most ambitious and comprehensive performance to date. A Carolina Snowbelle Christmas features precision tap and jazz, vocal performance, and ballet, as well as spoken word and audience interaction.
The Snowbelles are a precision dance troupe inspired by the Radio City Rockettes made up of dancers age 10 and up. Dancers are selected to participate in the scholarship program through an audition process to train in and perform the unique style of precision dance while learning important life lessons of teamwork and community involvement. Most Snowbelles are local to the Watauga County area, but dancers in the scholarship program are from all across the High Country and the state.
The Snowbelles were thrilled to have a successful debut weekend for their holiday show and hope to bring A Carolina Snowbelle Christmas to downtown Boone annually as a holiday tradition. This year, the precision dance troupe held their debut holiday show performances at the Appalachian Theatre, which has just recently been reopened to the public after a full renovation. The Snowbelles are the first community organization to utilize the newly revamped Appalachian Theatre space for a theatrical production since its reopening; not only that, but the holiday show is the first theatrical performance held in the theatre since the 1960s.
“The dancers had a blast! The first show was a great show even though they were a little nervous,” said Cheryl Cutlip, Director of the Carolina Snowbelles, “However, by Saturday’s performance, they were all loving it! Their favorite routine was “Like This” from the opening of the second act because the audience was giving off so much energy and they could feel it emanating. These kids have been to a lot of theatres through their experiences and they kept saying the Appalachian Theatre was exceptionally clean because everything is brand new; they’ve done such a great job renovating the theatre. People who have a history with the theatre and grew up going there were really happy to be back to see the Snowbelles!”
The Snowbelles appreciate all the support they have received from the community over the years; specifically from Karen Herterich, a founding patron of the Snowbelles, who consistently dedicates her time, energy, and resources toward the precision dance troupe and their endeavors. “The other big thank you is to the parents of the Snowbelles,” said Cutlip, “They are not only bringing their children to rehearsals, they go above and beyond,” said Cutlip, “For example, throughout the weekend they served as ushers during the holiday show and made sure the cast was fed and nourished. They’re constantly stepping in behind-the-scenes to make sure things run smoothly; they accomplish tasks that nobody really sees happen, so we want to acknowledge their hard work. We love our Snowbelle families, we couldn’t do it without them. It’s great to see all the community support for the Snowbelles because it gives life to the organization and allows it to keep going.”
However, the Snowbelles aren’t done with the 2019 winter season just yet. The dance troupe is hosting “Kick It Up” from January 2-4, a winter dance intensive designed for trained dancers with intermediate or advanced skill levels aged 13 and over. The professional faculty at Project Dance will feature Paige Chambers (Cats, The Producers, A Chorus Line, The Radio City Music Hall Rockettes), Amanda Edge (New York City Ballet, Phantom of the Opera, Come Fly Away) and Cheryl Cutlip (The Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, 42nd Street, Crazy For You). Dance styles will include original Broadway choreography, precision tap/jazz, ballet, and kick technique. RSVP for the “Kick It Up” winter dance intensive by sending an email to [email protected]
The Snowbelles will also be back at the Appalachian Theatre on June 6, 2020 for their annual Spring Showcase.
And of course, the Snowbelles will be returning next year to perform A Carolina Snowbelle Christmas throughout the second weekend of December 2020.
If you would like to give support The Carolina Snowbelles, tax deductible gifts can be placed in their donation basket, located in the lobby of Project Dance located at 276-H Watauga Village Drive, Suite 139, Boone, NC 28607. Checks can be made out to the Project Dance Foundation, a 501-c-3 arts and education organization founded in 2003.
Pictures from Friday night performance by Ken Ketchie