Blowing Rock Dance Troupe Lights Up the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center

Published Saturday, January 5, 2019 at 1:17 pm

Local dance troupe The Carolina Snowbelles entertained a standing room only audience at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Millennium Stage this Christmas. After working hard to present “A Carolina Snowbelle Christmas,” the ‘belles’ headed to New York City to experience performing arts masterpieces, imagining what it might be like to be on the stage with the likes of the Radio City Rockettes, or the New York City Ballet.  

Performing amid top national and international talent 

The Carolina Snowbelles primarily perform jazz and tap pieces in the precision dance style made famous by the Rockettes. However, this one-hour show features a little something for everyone. “A Carolina Snowbelle Christmas” features dancing reindeer, the Sugar Plum Fairy, confections from the Kingdom of the Sweets, and various costumes of red, green, and white. Musical theater powerhouse Lindsay Masland belts “Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer” while dancing reindeer fill the stage. Vocal trio Katie Mac Greene, Savannah Spencer, and Emma Pinnix, blend their belle-like voices to sing the classic, “White Christmas.” In the Western Carolina Youth Ballet feature “Kingdom of the Sweets,” Amanda Sherrin dances the Sugar Plum Fairy to Madi Greene’s Clara, while Katie Hanna, Isabel Holt, Ava Cutlip, and Raylee Cline dance the roles of Spanish Chocolate, French Merliton, Chinese Tea, and Russian Candy Cane, respectively. Each act is united with a poetry narration written by Brad Parquette and performed by Mamma Snowbelle played by Cheryl Cutlip, the troupe’s director.  

Cast members include Raylee Cline, Ada Cline, Ali Cook, Bailey Grace Cook, Ava Crisp, Josie Crisp, Michelle Crisp, Celeste Crowe, Ava Cutlip, Cheryl Cutlip, Haley Daniels, Ashlyn Edmisten, Hattie Rose Greene, Kati Mac Greene, Madi Greene, Ella Gregory, Katie Hanna, Isabel Holt, Grace Jones, Lily Jones, Lindsay Masland, Emma Pinnix, Grace Sears, Amanda Sherrin, Sophie Speckmann, Savannah Spencer, Madelyne Street, and Carly Watson.

The dancers’ time in Washington, D.C. was all business leading up to the show. Rehearsals started bright and early Saturday morning at the hotel and moved midday to the Millennium Stage space. 11-year-old Snowbelle Raylee Cline said, “This experience made me think about what it would be like to be a professional dancer because of all the long hours spent rehearsing and preparing for our show.” They were rewarded for their hard work when the packed house erupted in applause. 

For local audiences, The Carolina Snowbelles are looking ahead to presenting “A Carolina Snowbelle Christmas” throughout the High Country during the 2019 Christmas season. A schedule of upcoming events is available at thecarolinasnowbelles.com, and more will be continually added.  

From the nation’s Capital to to the Big Apple

With their performance behind them The Snowbelles traveled to the Big Apple, where they attended the “Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes” and “The Nutcracker” with the New York City Ballet. 

The troupe went backstage after the “Christmas Spectacular” to witness where the magic happens, walking among stacks of soldier hats, racks of sparkling costumes, and elaborate sets. The girls were able to ask questions to 4 Rockettes who generously provided the exclusive tour and get a glimpse into their lives on one of the most prestigious stages in America. 

While in New York, some dancers took classes at the iconic Steps on Broadway and Broadway Dance Center studios, while others took in a Broadway show. The troupe braved the freezing temperatures for a professional photo shoot on the city streets. 

Director, Cheryl Cutlip shares, “My vision for this trip was to give each Carolina Snowbelle Dance Company member a glimpse into the reality of life as a Rockette. We started with a vigorous rehearsal schedule that led into our onstage performance in DC. From there we traveled together as a company to New York City and witnessed the iconic Christmas Spectacular from the 5th row center orchestra. I wanted our dancers to see the work up close in order to identify with the unique style of precision dance at the highest level. The outdoor photo shoot was the icing on the cake. In the same way The Rockettes brave the outdoors for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in Rockefeller Center, it was important to me that our belles experienced an outdoor adventure in costume.” 

Armed with fantastic memories and a few newly acquired souvenirs, dancers and chaperones settled onto the bus for the 12-hour ride back to the High Country. This experience will be one they will not soon forget. And for many of The Carolina Snowbelles, it will inspire them to keep reaching for the stars as they pursue their dreams.  

What’s next for The Carolina Snowbelles?

In 2019, they will participate in Boone’s Joy Prom as well as the annual Kick It Up Precision Dance Summer Intensive June 25-29, which includes the annual audition for The Carolina Snowbelles on Saturday June 29. Trained dancers age 10 and up are encouraged to consider auditioning for the troupe.  Learn more about Kick It Up and The Carolina Snowbelles at http://www.projectdance.com/. 

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