With poise and finesse, a group of young performers from the Jefferson City Dance Academy spread holiday cheer at a Thursday evening recital at the Adams Street Place.
From four-year-olds just starting out to older, more experienced dancers, girls in colorful leotards and dresses twirled and spun on the wooden floor, smiling broadly at the audience of around 40 residents and family members who had gathered to watch them perform.
The performance showcased several styles of dance, from ballet to hip-hop, set to a variety of Christmas music. Dancers of different age groups and skill levels had the chance to display their talents; younger girls swayed to "Jingle Bell Rock," while their more experienced counterparts performed a series of intricate ballet steps.
Performing at the Adams Street Place has been an academy tradition for more than three decades, said dance instructor Jan Dunning.
Dunning said the group began dancing at Heisinger Bluffs & St. Joseph's Bluffs around 30 years earlier and started giving recitals at other assisted living facilities shortly thereafter.
"Whoever calls us first gets us first," she said.
In preparation for their winter performances, the dancers begin listening to Christmas music and rehearsing in October to allow them plenty of time to practice. Thursday's recital marks the end of the academy's fall semester, Dunning said, but the dancers will return in the spring to participate in competitions.
Dunning takes pride in watching her students enjoy themselves on the dance floor and gain new skills. The best part of putting on recitals at places like the Adams Street Place, she said, is that each performance brings a special joy to the residents.
"So many of them come up and just can't believe we do this," she said.
Abbigail Doggett, 13, has been involved with the dance academy for about ten years. Her favorite dance of the evening, she said, was the Romeo and Juliet-themed ballet.
"I just really like ballet," Doggett said after the performance. "I like getting to wear the tutus."
The efforts of performers like Doggett were not lost on members of the audience, who smiled and clapped appreciatively after each group curtsied and left the dance floor.
Clara Haudrich, an Adams Street Place resident, said she had a wonderful time watching the young performers.
"I thought they were very, very great," she said. "I liked them all."