When I have a rough day managing 3 magazines and a team of 6, I think about Stephanie Burkhardt. She’s the Executive Artistic Director of The Dance Company and one of the creative geniuses behind their annual show, The St. Augustine Winter Spectacular coming up this weekend at Flagler College’s Lewis Auditorium. In addition to writing the storyline, she’s tasked with coordinating over 80 performers ranging in age between 6 to 18 during the 12 weeks of preparation it takes to put on such a production. If you’re not well versed in creativity and especially patience, that might sound more like herding bees to you. But for Stephanie, she’s been bred for this kind of work. A product of The Dance Company herself, she trained at the company for 11 years as a child and returned in 2011 as Director.
We visited The Dance Company one Saturday to get a sneak peek of the performance and see just what goes into the making of The Winter Spectacular.
Don’t be fooled, The Winter Spectacular is not a recital… it’s an as-real-as-it-gets production as legit as the kind you’d see on Broadway but the dancers are students. Auditions happen in August and once the final performers have been picked, 12 weeks of Saturday rehearsals ensue beginning in September. The dancers take the commitment very seriously and usually spend 5-6 hours at rehearsal perfecting their routines.
The performance is choreographed by a team of instructors. Stephanie tells us, “We brought in two former Radio City Music Hall Rockettes to teach different kick line pieces. I choreographed some numbers and other TDC instructors choreographed other parts. It usually takes some brainstorming to come up with the choreography but since we have such a short time frame to work in, we teach the dancers a complete dance sometimes in as little as a couple of hours.”
There are over 25 different costume themes in the show and about 200 individual costumes. “We order our costumes from a variety of vendors, usually online. Each dancer was measured so that costumes are appropriately sized. Costumes we already had are altered by parents and rhinestoned and handmade headpieces are usually made. We use a lot of different costume companies and add in different items to make them our own. Each costume is numbered and assigned to each dancer” explains Stephanie. Because several performers are a part of 2 or 3 dances, some kids only have a minute or two to change outfits and shoes. Just like the big leagues.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly way to ring in the Christmas Season, The St. Augustine Winter Spectacular by The Dance Company is the perfect way to get a little bit of Broadway, right here in St. Augustine. The show runs two times December 6th at 2pm and 7pm. Tickets can be purchased online in advance at www.staugustinewinterspectacular.com for $15-$20 or purchased at the door for $20-25 if the shows are not sold out.