East Henderson High’s Eagles Performing Arts Company and Hendersonville Ballet students are no strangers to the stage, but Tuesday night was the first time both groups shared the spotlight, during a dress rehearsal for a special Christmas collaboration.
Tuesday, Dec. 12 was the first dress rehearsal for “A Home for Christmas,” a collaborative performance about an orphan during the holidays, originating from a story written by local author Deanna Ray, and supported with a $500 grant from the Henderson County Arts Council.
Hendersonville Ballet’s artistic director and ballet instructor, Kevin Overbey, said his students performed some of the dances during the holiday season last year, but he reached out to East’s theatre director Clay Gaitskill to collaborate on this year’s production.
“We needed someone to develop the story to go along with the dances,” Overbey said. “It just seemed like a good fit.”
Gaitskill and his advanced theatre students – who are also starring in the drama pieces – have adapted the storyline for the stage, strategically writing scenes that would be complemented by the dances.
East sophomore Max M. said the ballet company provided the list of dances they’d be performing and, “We chose which songs we want to go after each scene.”
“It’s kind of mixed performing arts,” said East senior Eliana K.
Max M. said that when creating a holiday-themed production, “It’s really easy to fall into a cliché.” He said, “To set ourselves apart, we chose an emotional connection between the song and the scene.”
East sophomore Sydney J. said each scene sets the stage for the dancers’ artistic interpretation of the moment’s sentiment. “They (the dancers) bring the emotion,” she said.
In addition to four classical and neoclassical ballet pieces choreographed by Overbey, the Hendersonville Ballet company will perform two contemporary numbers, a Rockettes-style number, and a student-choreographed piece.
Esme, an 8th-grader with Hendersonville Ballet, said, “There’s two dances where we’re actually wearing point shoes.”
Josie, an 11th-grader, said the company has been practicing the dances since July.
On Tuesday when the two groups met for the first time, they were only a little nervous about bringing their work together.
Lucy, an 8th-grader with Hendersonville Ballet, said she was a little concerned about the transitions between numbers and quick changes.
“We have four or five costumes,” she said.
With another dress rehearsal scheduled for Thursday, the transitions, lighting, costume changes, and other details should all be perfected for the Friday and Saturday performances of “A Home for Christmas.”
Each performance is at 7 p.m. in the East Henderson High auditorium, and tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children. Tickets are available at hendersonvilleballet.org or at the box office.
Proceeds from the ticket sales will be split to benefit the arts through the Eagles Performing Arts Company and the Hendersonville Ballet.
– By Molly McGowan Gorsuch
Public Information Officer