The Lake Charles Civic Ballet will pirouette and grand jeté from the 1800s when the area was first settled to the hip swiveling Elvis of the '70s in "Christmas in Louisiana: Once Upon a Time." Performance dates are Dec. 12, 13 and 14 at the Rosa Hart Theatre.
This marks the LCCB's 51st season. The choreography/story line is the collaboration between Lady Holly Hathaway Kaough, LCCB artistic director and the late Lady Leah Hathaway.
"It was performed for the first time 20 years ago," said Kaough, "and a couple of times since then. It was the last Christmas production my mother and I worked on together."
Lady is not a title. It is the first name of these women. Hathaway died in April this year after teaching dance for the past 65 years here.
"We were trying to come up with a Christmas theme and thought it would be interesting if we could tie in some of the history of the Lake Area," Kaough said.
The result was letting Santa tell the story of how Lake Charles has changed during his many trips here, beginning with Charles Sallier's discovery of the lake.
Around 175 children from the ages of three to 18 will perform, just one example of the "moving" parts in this undertaking. LCCB will be sharing the stage with a group of children from St. Nicholas Center for the 11 a.m. matinee.
"It's a testament to these children," Kaough said, "to their training, to their parents."
Fred Stark, LCCB technical director is set designer of this time hop that includes pirate ships and trolley cars.
"It's a sweet way to educate children, and even some adults about this area," Kaough said. "For instance, we've got third and fourth grade lumberjacks that represent our sawmill town history. We'll tell how Ryan Street got its name."
Kaough has added new material. Adding a scene that features the Cal Cam Fair is her "way of blowing a little kiss" to her mother's family and Kaough's great grandfather Dr. Alvan Henry LaFargue. He founded the bi-parish fair. Another scene will highlight Elvis' visit to the Civic Center in 1975.
"A five-person youth band will bring it home for us, Kaough said. "This show has something for everyone."
Grandparents and parents will, of course, make up a goodly portion of the audience. Some of those parents and grandparents have memories of their own holiday dance performances.
Michelle Durand Elliott started lessons with Lady Leah Hathaway when she was 11. She is now in her 30s. Her fondest memories include going with the dance group to Lafayette for performances of Rudolph.
"All the parents have really come together," Elliott said. "Some are juggling work schedules and lately we're basically living up there for rehearsals."
Some of the performers will be wearing costumes from the original production. Parents and other volunteers help maintain these costumes.
"I love the stage," Lila, age 5. said.
Elliott says, in a wry way and followed by a chuckle that Lila will appear as an angel. Seven-year-old Caleigh is an elf who would have chosen the pirate role, if she could have.
"They get to tap dance to the bottle of rum song," Caleigh said.
"I think this performance will be enjoyable for children and for older adults who will remember some of the things covered in the show," Elliott said.
"It really does have something for everyone," Kaough said. "You'll definitely leave with the Christmas spirit."
For show times and other info, call (337) 912-4672 or go to www.lakecharlescivicballet.com.