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The Pepperbox

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Leaping Into The Holidays

Winter Dance Performances in Humboldt
Scurfield Photography
Amara Rex, a junior at Arcata High school as Silverbella in Trillium’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

The rickety sound of the curtains swinging open, the warm lights against the black stage, the whispers of the audience as the lights in the house dim, backstage dancers are anxiously waiting for their music to start…

The holiday entertainment season has officially begun, but for dancers around the globe, it’s been “fa la la” time since everyone was still fixating on Halloween plans. 

Junior Miah Wagar, a dancer at Trillium Dance Studios, said, “Christmas music is on repeat in my head starting in mid-November. I’m a pro November Christmas music advocate.” 

Dance studios have been putting on winter productions for centuries. The famous Nutcracker first went to the stage in 1892, in Russia. Since then, the classic ballet has popped up in theaters all over the world. Alongside the beautiful Nutcracker, studios have taken it upon themselves to create their own winter productions. 

Dancers have been working hard, day in and day out,  for months now to bring these performances to life. If you’ve ever been curious with the art form that is dance, now is the time to witness these productions in person. Humboldt’s dancers are buzzing with excitement to bring the holiday magic to you. 

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas—Trillium Dance Studios

Trillium Dance Studios has been putting on their ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ piece since 2007. Their studio director, Erin Mckeever, is also the woman who is credited for establishing the studio 17 years ago. The idea for ‘Twas’ originated from the popular book also named, “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas,” by Clement C. Moore, which the entirety of the show’s first half follows. 

For the second half of the performance, McKeever put her own spin on what she said, “What really happened the night before Christmas”. 

The dancers have been working on this performance for 3 months almost every day of the week. Older dancers sometimes work up to 4 hours everyday between ballet classes, contemporary, jazz, tap, and solo roles. Their piece will come to the Cal Poly Humboldt Van Duzer Theater on December 16th and 17th, with a Saturday evening performance and a Sunday matinee. 

The studio manager, Chloe Schmidt, said, “Our production is special for many reasons, but the one that sticks out for me the most is all the kids from [who] have been growing up doing ‘Twas every year. They see the same characters–pirates, gingerbread, cookies, teddy bears, and soloists come to life. As a teddy bear you might look up to the ornament soloists and hope to wear that costume one day, and it happens! When I was a gingerbread cookie at age 12, I was in awe of the Ballerina Doll, and now I get to be her and dance with the Pirate King. Erin has created a whole world and community within Trillium and within Twas, and ‘special’ is the very word I would use to describe it.”


Nutcracker—Dance Scene/Sundance Ballet Company

Dance Scene has a performance dance company, Sundance, which will be bringing another Nutcracker to the stage at Cal Poly Humboldt’s Van Duzer Theater. Their three performances will take place on the 19th and 20th of December. Studio director Carrie Badeaux has been working there for 11 years now, although the studio was actually established in the 1940s, making it the oldest dance studio in Humboldt County. The studio has many instructors who teach various styles of dance. The rehearsals have been ongoing over four months, with the dancers putting hours of dedication into making this performance memorable.


Badeaux believes that the magic of the Nutcracker is very special to many people, including herself. “The choreography, props, and dancers change a bit every year, but the magic that Nutcracker creates on stage has only grown. The excitement backstage carries over to the stage from the minute the Party Scene begins. It is a whimsical journey that the dancers have rehearsed hard to perfect. I love when former dancers attend Nutcracker and tell me what parts they cried at. Nutcracker really stays with you. It is what I grew up with and now produce for my students. For many people it is a major part of experiencing the holidays and that is really special.”

Annika Avcollie-Young, a sophomore at Arcata High, said, “I am very excited to be a part of my 2nd nutcracker with The Dance Scene! I have been dancing for 6 years.”


Candy Cane Lane—No Limits Dance Academy 

No Limits Dance has been in Humboldt since 1999. This December, as always, they will be performing their original holiday piece known as Candy Cane Lane. 

This performance started out as an in-studio performance where parents were invited into the last class of the semester. Over the years, those small performances have turned into full on two-day showcases, fully costumes and lit, in a professional theater. And this is now their 13th annual production of Candy Cane Lane! 

This year, their performances will take place on December 22nd and 23rd in the Arkley Center. 

The classes start rehearsing in October and continue to do so up until the performance. It’s a lot of hard work, dedication, and organization, but is also so fun at the same time. A lot of that behind the scenes work is credited to the studio owner and director, Stacy Atkins-Salazar, and assistant director, Amethyst Sinn.

Part of what makes our shows unique is the storyline. The story of Candy Cane Lane is unique to the No Limits Dance Academy and has been developed over time. Each year there are parts that stay the same and others that change. It is a fun, upbeat performance with a range of styles including tap, jazz, ballet, and hip hop. From the three year olds following along with their teacher on stage, to the advanced dancers and special roles, there is something for everyone to enjoy! Although our goal is to have the most professional production possible, it is also our goal for our dancers to have a fun and positive experience, so we continue to strive for both.” said Atkins-Salazar.

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About the Contributor
Malea Melendrez
Malea Melendrez, Reporter
Malea is a 16-year-old junior at Arcata High School who is just joining The Pepperbox team this fall. Ever since she came to this school two years ago, Malea has read every issue of The Pepperbox cover to cover and has been waiting for this chance to be a part of this journalism process. When she can, Malea enjoys adding an opinionated flare to all of her pieces. She plans to pursue her journalism career past high school. Malea hopes to continue being a part of such an interesting piece of Arcata High history for the next two years. She can be reached at the email linked below.
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