Ballet dancers to perform scenes from the Nutcracker in storefronts of Hurontario St. before Santa Claus Parade Nov. 22
Fleet-Wood Dancers show off the large amount of medals they won at last month's Muskoka Ballet Gala & Competition. The dancers all look forward to performing November 22nd at 4 p.m. as the "Christmas Living Windows" in Downtown Collingwood one hour prior to the start of the Santa Claus Parade. SUBMITTED PHOTO.
Every year for the past 20 years Collingwood has enjoyed a special holiday tradition.
In the Christmas Living Windows event, dancers from the Fleet-Wood Dance Centre perform ballet in storefronts along Hurontario Street prior to the Santa Claus Parade, miming out scenes from the Nutcracker as cold crowds warm themselves with some Christmas cheer.
“We put three to four dancers in each window, all different sizes and they all wear the Nutcracker costumes and do little mini-ballets from the Nutcracker,” explained Sharron Williams Fleet, director and co-founder of the Fleet-Wood Dance Centre.
And it’s certainly a well-choreographed and fun show each year. The Fleet-Wood Centre dancers are some of the most talented in the region, and they have the medals to prove it.
At last month’s Muskoka Ballet Gala and Competition Oct. 23-26, the girls came home with eight “First Places,” six “Second Places, and two “Thirds,” as well as being recognized with four trophies including “ High Junior Ballet: Large Group Award,” “Best Junior Technique Award,” “High Senior Modern Group,” and “Best Use of Humour.”
The dance centre’s teachers Williams Fleet, Colin Eccles, Paula Schryver and Sierra Hanna-Maraj are proud of their dancers and look forward to letting them brighten up the time before the Santa Claus Parade. It also gives the children a chance to perform, which is one of the mandates of the Fleet-Wood Dance Centre.
In addition to drawing large crowds in Collingwood each holiday season, the Christmas Living Windows event has even spread to other towns.
“The idea has picked up through my colleagues and now they’re also doing it in their hometowns,” Fleet said. “We kind of invented it and now it’s spread to Bracebridge and Huntsville and they do it there, too. It’s great for people and it’s a lovely opportunity for the dancers.”
The Christmas Living Windows show begins Nov. 22 at 4 p.m. and features storefront ballet along Hurontario Street from Elaine Dickinson’s Fashions all the way to the intersection of Hurontario and First Street. It is followed one hour later by the Santa Claus Parade.
“We do it the hour before the Santa Claus Parade so we entertain people while they’re standing there in the cold waiting for Santa to come down,” Fleet said, noting there will be more than 40 dancers taking part in Christmas Living Windows. “We’ve been rehearsing for the past four weeks. This is something we’ve done now for 20 years, it’s kind of a tradition in Collingwood. We’re a little bit famous for it, and people really enjoy it. All year long I bump into people who go ‘I saw your kids in the window, was that ever nice.’ Because the windows are all dressed up at night, the lights are on and it’s really spreading some Christmas cheer.”