While the goal hasn’t changed for the Christmas performance by Heather’s Dance studio, the theme has, considerably.
This year marks the fifth straight for the show supporting the Raleigh Rescue Mission’s service to people battling homelessness and other life challenges. Instead of the usual dose of “The Nutcracker,” however, the three shows slated for Dec. 12-13 will incorporate a more modern theme – “The Adventures of Buddy the Elf.”
Studio owner Heather Davis Fitts has always tried new things to keep the show fresh from year to year. The popularity of the movie “Elf,” and the more recent Broadway play worked well with that objective.
The show will follow a similar plot line to the movie, but with its own interpretation mixing the movie and play, and still including the Christmas story.
“We had done ‘The Nutcracker’ for four years and I wanted to give the community and the kids something totally different – still have the art form of dance but make it more enjoyable for boys and girls while still not losing the message of the true meaning of Christmas,” Fitts said. “And ‘Elf’ is one of my favorite Christmas movies.”
The music plays a big role in making the show fun, Fitts said.
“It just draws more people to it – it’s not like the traditional music you hear all the time but it still brings that Christmas spirit with it,” she said. “The kids caught the Christmas spirit when we started this in August.”
Micah Geyer, Fitt’s college friend and a professional dancer with Philadelphia-based Koresh Dance Company, will take the lead role as Buddy the Elf. This will be Geyer’s third year participating in the local company’s Christmas show.
The production will feature about 85 young members of Heather’s Dance, who annually raise funds to cover the operational costs of the show. That makes it possible for all proceeds from ticket sales to be passed on to the Rescue Mission.
Effort pays off
Fitts has been an ardent supporter of the downtown Raleigh shelter ever since she was inspired by a book she read about helping those in need. She volunteers by offering dance instruction every two weeks for preschool kids at the Rescue Mission.
The performances typically raise in the range of $6,000 to $8,000 for the cause. Fitts has an unofficial goal of raising $10,000.
“However, I’m grateful for even one dollar,” she said. “That’s a dollar more that the Mission doesn’t have, so I’m grateful to give anything.”
The Raleigh Rescue Mission is also appreciative of donations of any amount. But Holly Cook, the director of the Mission’s volunteer ministry, says ongoing support from groups like Heather’s Dance goes a long way.
“Anybody who does a program like that – it’s not just donating financially but (Fitts) is also raising awareness for the Raleigh Rescue Mission, and that is so special,” Cook said.
The funds from the Christmas production are enough to affect thousands annually at the Mission, Cook said.
“We use for holiday meals $2.80 per meal, so if they raised $10,000, that’s a heck of a lot of meals,” she said.
One of the most rewarding aspects for Fitts is getting to see her students work together to help make a difference in the lives of others in need. She says doing so is rewarding for the students, too.
“Sometimes I think they are unaware of the huge influence they are having on someone else’s life by sacrificing their time and being in the show,” Fitts said. “The long rehearsals we have for this show create fun, good memories these kids will have for a lifetime.”
The show moves this year to Knightdale High School from its past location at East Wake High. It will be composed of two acts with an intermission, lasting about an hour and a half in all.
If you go
What: Heather’s Dance presents “The Adventures of Buddy the Elf”
Where: Knightdale High School Auditorium, 100 Bryan Chalk Lane, Knightdale
When: Saturday, Dec. 12 (two shows, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.); Sunday, Dec. 13 (one show, at 3 p.m.)
Tickets: $11 in advance (call 919-266-9900), $13 at the door