‘Go home dancing’

Allegro Dance Studio and Suzuki String Academy team up to create This Christmas Night

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

Entering the ornate ballroom of the Sandpoint Business and Events Center, it’s easy to feel like you weren’t just standing on the corner of Pine Street and Euclid Avenue — especially when the ballroom is dressed to the nines in holiday trappings. The people are also dressed to the nines: formal gowns and suits, children in their best party clothes. Mingling with the crowd are orchestra chamber members and dancers, soon to be center stage, working together to tell stories sure to delight people of all ages.

Local ballerina Katherine Mellander and violinist Jacinta Howard, who will both perform in This Christmas Night Saturday, Dec. 14. Photo by Kate Foster.

This was the vision of two local arts instructors, and it will come to life Saturday, Dec. 14 as This Christmas Night has its inaugural showing.

“We want to create an experience — that’s the word we keep coming back to,” said Ruth Klinginsmith, director of Suzuki String Academy and co-organizer of the event. “You walk in and you’re just engulfed in this otherworld experience.”

This Christmas Night combines the dancing talent of students from Allegro Dance Studio with the musical prowess of students at the Suzuki String Academy.

“It’s a gift from us to the community showing them how talented their kids truly are,” said Allegro Director Paige MacDonald.

The production was only an idea in the spring, but has since turned into a performance unlike anything Sandpoint has seen: local students of both music and dance working together to encompass the “essence of Christmas,” as MacDonald described it. Old and new compositions combine to capture that essence, including elements of classic Christmas tales, like the sugar plum fairies of The Nutcracker. However, This Christmas Night is not The Nutcracker — it’s a production all its own. 

“It is a great way to showcase our local students, to have them work toward something and polish something and have it at this level to share with others,” she said. “I just love the idea of having the live music and dance together. That excites me.”

The organizers named classically trained violinist and dancer Lindsey Stirling as a main point of inspiration for This Christmas Night. The way Stirling so innovatively combines music and dance influenced what MacDonald described as a “whimsical and interactive” production.

“The first rehearsal … was breathtaking,” MacDonald said. “To feel the music — not out of a stereo, but to feel the music, and to now have [dancers and musicians] play off each other, it’s even new for me and Ruth. We haven’t gotten that too often in our own environments.”

This Christmas Night will have two showings, the first being a matinee at 2 p.m. While the matinee will feature only the production, the evening installment begins with a pre-gala at 6 p.m., featuring wine from The Longshot and desserts from Trinity. For the kiddos, there will be a hot cocoa bar, an ornament decorating station and the chance to have their photo taken with characters from the performance. The event is formal — something Sandpoint doesn’t see too often, and something the organizers are excited to facilitate.

A hand-painted violin will be auctioned off, with all proceeds supporting scholarships for Allegro and Suzuki students.

MacDonald and Klinginsmith emphasized that there won’t be a bad seat in the house at This Christmas Night, especially for the children in attendance.

“That’s how I’m looking at it — from a little girl’s perspective, who is dreaming of ballerinas,” MacDonald said. “She gets to dress up, she gets to meet the sugar plum fairies, have a fancy hot cocoa, gets to make a craft, and then gets to see these dancers and musicians [perform]. [She’s] going to go home dancing for weeks.”

This Christmas Night • Saturday, Dec. 14; matinee showing at 2 p.m., pre-gala and evening show at 6 p.m.; matinee $20, evening showing $35. Sandpoint Business and Events Center, 102 S. Euclid Ave., 208-263-7770. Get tickets at the door and online at thischristmasnight.ticketleap.com. Attendees are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance online.

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