LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - Cancelled events and performances have taken a toll on many Americans’ mental health, especially children. But some young dancers in Lexington County are going to be able to get back on stage this weekend for this first time in nearly a year.
The thirty children who are part of the Columbia City Jazz Conservatory are perfecting every motion and step for the performance of The Two Claras. “It’s been long rehearsals and long evenings,” youth director Shannon Manning said.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit South Carolina in March, Columbia City Jazz had to cancel dance class for three months. “It was really hard because we use dance as an emotional thing to let our emotions out, all of our built-up emotions from the day,” explained 17-year-old dancer, Shaeleigh Person, who’s playing the nutcracker in The Two Claras. “Without dance, it kind of stays there, and you don’t really know what to do with it.”
Even as youth sports and other activities resumed, these young dancers still couldn’t perform because most venues remained closed. “It was hard, and I was sort of sad that we couldn’t do it, but everyone else could,” said third-grader Genevieve Stitely, who watched her brothers resume sporting events, while she was still dancing from home.
Director Manning set a goal to get her dancers back on stage for The Two Claras because it’s been a 13-year Christmas tradition for the group. “This is their World Series; this is their Super Bowl,” she explained. “When kids get on stage, their endorphins just release, and you have that euphoric feeling; There’s nothing like it.”
Just a few weeks ago, the performance didn’t look like it was going to happen, as the original venue is still closed. The nonprofit and dancers’ parents pulled together to raise money to book the Koger Center. “I’m just over the moon, absolutely over the moon that we have run over the obstacles in our way to make it happen,” said Manning.
With just a few days until showtime, the countdown is on for these young performers, who are eager to showcase the activity they love. “Even if there’s not many people in the audience, I’m just glad I get to be up there,” said Person.
The number of people in the audience for this weekend’s performance will be limited to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Everyone will have to wear a mask, and the Koger Center is increasing cleaning to help keep everyone safe. You can find the venue’s full list of guidelines here.
You can find ticket information here.