The return of “Mistletoe” as an in-person production this weekend marks the start of a new Alabama Dance Theater tradition in honor of “Miss Kitty’s Favorite Christmas Dances.”
“It’s our 35th anniversary season, and we’re honoring Mom by doing a lot of the original pieces she choreographed,” said Kate Seale Smith, artistic director of ADT. Smith is the daughter of ADT founder Kitty Seale, who passed away in 2019.
“I wish she could see these dancers and how they grew up, and the new pieces because she would be thrilled,” Smith said.
Public performances are Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Davis Theater for the Performing Arts at Troy University in downtown Montgomery. Tickets range from $ 20 to $ 30 for adults and $ 15 for children 12 and under. They are available online at alabamadancetheater.com.
Known from afar as Miss Kitty, Seale has taught generations of young dancers in Montgomery.
“Miss Kitty started this tradition in 1986 with six favorite Christmas dances,” said ADT choreographer Sara Sanford. “Today we have more than 55 with original dances, choreographies.”
This year they will perform 12 of those classic pieces, plus four new ones: “Greensleeves”, “Coventry Carol” and “With Boughs of Holly” choreographed by Sanford, and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” choreographed by Janie Alford.
“We love Miss Kitty here. We can’t go a day without talking about her,” Sanford said. “She’s here with us. Creating new pieces is like giving Miss Kitty a present.
Guest artist Rorey Fraser last danced with ADT three years ago at a riverside show.
“I got to work with Miss Kitty,” said Fraser, a 16-year-old veteran dancer from Buffalo, New York. “It’s the first time I’ve been back since.”
He is in several pieces for Gui, dances he must have learned in a very short time. His favorite is the snow scene from “The Nutcracker”.
“I’ve been doing this since I started ballet,” Fraser said. “I have all the ballet notes in my brain. It’s always great to be a part of any snow scene, anywhere. It’s always a little different.
For “I’ll be home for Christmas,” Lilla Kate Parkman, a 16-year-old junior at Trinity Presbyterian, will team up with Frazer. She has been with ADT for five years and is a senior member of the company, dancing in several rooms. Parkman was also part of Mistletoe’s virtual performance last year.
“A live audience really helps a performance because it really gets your adrenaline pumping and prepares you for the show,” Parkman said.
Fraser described the ADT dancers as passionate and hard working.
“I think the audience will walk away with a sense of accomplishment after watching these performances,” Fraser said. “There are so many different types of dance that they will see throughout the performances. The energy will go through the roof.
There will be 39 dancers in this year’s production: 35 company members, Frazer, plus three grandchildren in the production. Smith said it’s a bit small compared to most years. Due to the pandemic, they did not open it to children’s hearings.
“We’re going to do ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in the spring, and we’re going to be doing auditions for the kids for that,” Smith said.
At 7 p.m. in Davis on Friday, military, first responders and healthcare workers will be honored with free mistletoe performance. The show is open to all active duty military personnel, retirees, reservists and National Guard, active and retired responders, and health care providers and their families who present a valid ID card at the Davis box office.
“I think this performance really showcases all of the unique dance styles that we have,” Sanford said. “There is something for everyone. There is ballet. There is jazz. There is lyrical. There is something contemporary. And it just goes on and on. “
“It’s a family-friendly and very diverse show,” Smith said. “There is incredible music, costumes, dancing. It’s just a great show.
Contact reporter Shannon Heupel of Montgomery Advertiser at [email protected]