The stage was a flurry of snowflakes, fairies and lights Dec. 10, when Miss Felicia’s Dance at Christ Church presented its annual performance of “The Nutcracker” in the Lazarra Theater at the University of North Florida.
Celebrating 21 years running, the show featured a selection of new holiday numbers in addition to the traditional ballet, whimsy and storytelling for which it is known. Dancers performed remixed renditions of classics such as “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” in addition to jazz, tap and contemporary dance numbers, the show added a spin to the time-honored story.
Dance instructor, producer and director Felicia Rhoden has continually cultivated the growth of the ministry, acting as both director of the dance ministry and director of Liturgical Dance at the Ponte Vedra based church. During her tenure, the production’s cast has grown from fewer than 20 to hundreds of dancers. With its performance, Rhoden said that many members of her dance ministry feel the holidays have officially begun.
“This show has grown so tremendously, it’s something the community looks forward to every year,” she said. “Most of these dancers have been with us for a very long time, so it’s like a big family. They’re dedicated to creating a wonderful show and they’re loyal to one another.”
The show has become a long-running tradition for the community, with many of the dancers returning year after year, Rhoden said, adding that several of the evening’s performers had been with her since the very start of their dance careers – some as young as 3 years old – and performed through high school before later returning as adults.
Most notably, however, the performance symbolized the nature of the season: one of giving.
As is tradition for the dance ministry, this year’s rendition of “The Nutcracker” benefited a number of charitable causes, with Community PedsCare, Dreams Come True and the Amistad Orphanage in Bolivia among the charities helped by the show.
“The performers are gathered here to raise money for children in need,” Rhoden said. “They dance for the children who cannot dance.
“There are some things about this show that change each year,” she continued. “A different dream comes true each time. But what stays the same is that this event is about giving, and we always have a crew of wonderful people working on this production who are willing to help make that happen.”