Spreading good will and cheer | VailDaily.com

Spreading good will and cheer

Laura A. Ball
Vail Daily/Preston UtleyThe Vail Youth Ballet Company and friends perform a Radio City Rockettes-style "Sleigh Ride," the opening act of the Community Holiday Concert at the Vilar Center.

BEAVER CREEK – While the bustle of the holidays has people in a mad rush decorating trees, buying up-to-the-minute gifts and baking away, folks walked away from the Community Holiday Concert reminded of what the season is all about.”During the holidays, we reflect on peace and how fortunate we are,” said Chris Sabel, director of the Vilar Center. “You hope it brings the community together. It gives them a chance to see all the wonderful kids we have.” The Vail Youth Ballet Company, Sound Waves of the Eagle Valley Children’s Chorale, Mountain Harmony, Vail Performing Arts Academy and The Dickens Carolers gave Saturday’s audience at The Vilar Center in Beaver Creek a taste of just how much talent the Vail Valley has to offer, while spreading hope and cheer.The ballet company and guests tapped their hearts out like the Radio City Rockettes in “Sleigh Ride.” The girls, in darling red sequin costumes trimmed in fur, complete with matching wrist cuffs and Santa hats, kicked off the show with style. And, man, could they kick.Beth Swearingen, artistic director of the Vail Performing Arts Academy, and Don Watson, a local musician, followed with a class act performing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.””This just starts the season out for me, it really does,” Watson said.

Begging Christmas to hurry, Watson played acoustic guitar while he and Swearingen sang “The Chipmunks Christmas Song” in tiny chipmunk voices, which had the audience giggling all the way to the end.It was 10-year-old Kristine Perry’s of Edwards favorite number.”It gets me in the mood for the holidays,” said Kristine, who came to see some friends perform. The Sound Waves, the fourth- and fifth-graders of the children’s chorale, sang “Shout” and “Cantar.” The choreographed numbers really got the audience groovin’. Colby Wilson, 6, of Vail loved the performance of “Shout” by the children’s chorale.”I sang it,” Colby said. The first-grader is a member of the younger chorale, which didn’t perform, but practiced the song with the older kids. “I love to sing.”

The next ensemble, Mountain Harmony, an all-female barbershop, looked amazing in their ruby red skirts and white fur coats and hats, and had the talent to match. The nine women sang a beautiful “White Christmas,” and if their smiles didn’t warm hearts, their harmony did.The women pulled a man from the audience on stage, claiming they needed to practice telling Santa what they wanted, during “Santa Baby.” They gave him a wish list while they sang to him about a sable coat, a convertible and a ring. “Not a chance,” the man said, as he read down the handwritten scroll. It seemed staged, but it wasn’t.The performing arts academy stunned the audience with their talent in the next number, “Christmas Bells Are Ringing” and “Seasons of Love” from Rent. The songs were reinvented, touching on the hardships of the teen years. The pressure of college, having no money to buy gifts, love and braces garnered attention from the young performers, who sang and acted well beyond their years. The creative story line was resolved when the kids realized they had each other and that was what mattered most.Lauren Vickers, 16, of Edwards has been performing in the arts academy for three years. Her favorite number was its take on the “Rent” tunes.”It reflects bringing the city to Vail,” she said. “We have so many amazing performers. It’s just awesome.”The Sound Waves returned to the stage with the festive “Reindeer Jive!” and “Share your Good Will.”

Lauren’s sister Mindy Vickers, 8, sings in the children’s chorale.”I like performing,” she said. “I like making people happy and seeing smiles on their faces.”The kids surely made that happen, wearing reindeer hats, accompanied by the “cool” reindeer wearing 3D glasses jammed on toy instruments.In the next sketch, speaking of rocking out, while the winter’s cold influenced Scrooge, the “King of Pop” inspired the art academy’s “A Christmas Thriller.”Before the curtain, Scrooge was visited by a ghost who gave him a glimpse of what afterlife would be like for him if he continued on in his bitter and cold-hearted ways.The curtain opened revealing the dead rising from hell. Tattered clothes and chains wrapped their bodies, their faces white. Scrooge watched in horror as they danced to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” miming the infamous video, before the dead swarmed him.

Everything from the costumes to the synchronized moves was impressive. Let’s just hope old Scrooge learned his lesson: You don’t have to allow the cold to get to you, as the next act proved.The Dickens Carolers walked down the aisles singing “Joy to the World,” donned in period costumes. The group’s execution of what they call “Vail’s Battle Cry,” “Let it Snow,” filled the auditorium, provoking images of standing in a doorway sipping a mug of hot chocolate, watching the snow.And just when it seemed it couldn’t get better, the ballet company re-emerged on stage. The playful “Les Patineurs” showcased unbelievable costumes and graceful dancers on their way to much bigger stages. The spectacular finale talent surpassed any high school performance I’ve ever witnessed.It is easy to be consumed by the details during the busy holiday season, good thing we have kids to remind us of the bigger picture.”I liked the message and the acting,” said Lauren Kern, 11, of Edwards. Lauren, who was there watching a friend perform, said the holidays are a time of giving.Jillian Kiss, 11, of Vail, a member of the Vail Performing Arts Academy, said it’s important to perform all year long, not just during the holidays.

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“You’re just kind of giving back to the community, because you’re giving your talents,” she said.Proceeds from the third annual community concert went to The Buckman/Blount Community Performance Fund, which underwrites costs for the groups to perform at venues such as the Vilar Center.Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 619, or laball@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

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