Kauai Dance Theatre students prepare for winter showcase

KALAHEO — Walking into Janie Crane’s dance studio is like walking into a new world.

As dancers move to the beat of the music, ballet moves such as grand jete, plie and degage can be heard across the studio.

In the middle of it all stands Crane, a 50-year veteran in the world of dance, as she coaches her students by correcting their posture and finessing their technique.

On Dec. 10, dancers with the Kauai Dance Theatre will debute their winter showcase, “Dances in December,” at the Lihue Parish Hall next to Lihue United Church. The audience will be taken on a trip down memory lane as performers dance to timeless Christmas hits like “Carol of the Bells,” “Frosty the Snowman,” and “Sleigh Ride.”

Saturday’s performance will start at 4 p.m. Tickets are $5, and proceeds will go to The Garden Island/Zonta Club Christmas Fund.

“The most rewarding part is watching the excitement that the students feel about their performance after their hard work spent preparing in class,” Crane said. “Practice makes perfect, and when students are serious about improving their dance technique, their progress is apparent in their performance quality.”

Kauai Dance Theatre has been presenting its winter performance every year since 1987. For the show, dancers wear previously used costumes and a parent volunteer is in charge of changing the music.

While it’s a little more “low tech” than the spring showcase, it delivers on its promise to bring the Christmas spirit to its audience.

Dancers in the Ballet IV/V level, which is made up of eighth and ninth graders, will also be dancing jazz routines to songs like “Bella’s Waltz” from the “Twilight” movies and “Dance Like Yo Daddy” by Meghan Trainor.

Those routines presented a challenge because jazz doesn’t have a clear vocabulary like ballet does, Crane said.

“Original choreography for the Ballet IV/V level is the most challenging as the work must stretch the students abilities while highlighting their strengths as a group,” she said.

Another issue Crane faced was overcoming staging obstacles.

“Small groups of three and four students are performing the classical variation ‘Esmeralda,’ which presented a staging challenge as the original choreography is designed for a solo dancer,” she said.

While she danced for a semi-professional ballet company in her 20s, Crane also enjoys tap, contemporary and jazz dance. She teaches those three genres, including ballet, at her studio.

Crane moved to Kauai in the 1980s. She describes herself as a perpetual dance studio student and teacher. While she received a degree in medical technology and worked in the medical field for over a decade, her heart has always been in the dance studio.

“When a Kauai ballet teacher retired in 1986 and asked if I would take over for her, I decided it was a good time to switch careers and begin sharing my passion for dance,” she said.

More info: www.KauaiDanceTheatre.com

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