Dancers in the Holiday Concert from Pacific Ballroom Dance.  Photo by Garrett Gibbons.

Dancers in the Holiday Concert from Pacific Ballroom Dance. Photo by Garrett Gibbons.

Through the On-Site Review program, 4Culture evaluates arts and heritage organizations who receive Sustained Support funding. On-Site Reviewers attend events produced or presented by recipients and write up short reviews, which give the adjudicating Sustained Support panelists a patron’s-eye-view of each organization.  Each month, the 4Culture blog presents excerpts from these reviews.  This month’s review is by Mary Sherhart.

What Pacific Ballroom Dance presented on stage reflected their mission perfectly:  to build character, instill good values and provide youth with a positive artistic, social, and athletic experience. The quality of the performance reflected attention to detail and professionalism.  The costumes were colorful and neat, ranging from gingham to sequined satin gowns.  The girls’ hair and make-up was perfect.  The boys’ shoes shined and shirts ironed.  Lines were straight and full stops were held perfectly.  The final tableaus that ended almost every piece were flawless and well thought out; picture perfect.  Their teachers obviously gave them great instruction on staying in character throughout a piece.  Their smiles looked mostly natural, chests lifted, eyes focused, and backs straight.  Carriage is so important for ballroom, however, who knows how many of these kids will actually go into ballroom.  Even if they don’t, they will have wonderful posture their entire lives thanks to PBD.

This was the matinee performance of PBD’s annual holiday concert.  This 70-minute performance featured 14 separate pieces performed by various teams in costume (youth premier team, junior show, junior premier, kids & ballet classes, youth show, preteen, and an all-company finale).   The finale included 135 performers.  The music was mostly jolly pop holiday classics like Jingle Bells, Santa Baby, etc.  The choreographers considered the audience in the overall flow of the show and the separate pieces.  Each piece was short and the pieces quite varied, which kept the audience engaged from start to finish.   They used lifts and stunts to good effect.  Nice breadth of emotion from humor to pathos.

I appreciated the attention to stagecraft.  Lighting was used to mostly good effect, though there was a gold wash that, rather than looking warm, made the stage a little somber for my tastes.  The lit Christmas tree placed upstage off center for the entire concert was a perfect touch as was the smoke, snow, occasional spot and various props placed by the performers.  No one, and I mean no one, peeked from the wings.  That was amazing for a children’s performance.  Kudos to the instructors!

The audience was filled with enthusiastic and loving family members rooting on their young performer(s).  There were babes in arms to grandparents with walkers and all ages in between.  It was lovely to hear siblings and friends calling out names of various performers.  One particularly charming moment happened after a number in which the snow machine was used.  As a young man quickly swept the snow off the darkened stage with a wide broom, some kid in the audience yelled, “BROOM!”  Everyone laughed and applauded wildly.  Very fun.

The opening choreography was a fabulous romp and got the concert started with a bang.  The music was uncomfortably loud, but by the second number it was at a comfortable level.  The ending bow was one of the best I’ve seen – so exciting and energetic, and obviously well-rehearsed.

Pacific Ballroom Dance’s next Spring Concert is on May 30-31 at Auburn Performing Arts Center .