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22nd annual TDA dance concert is this weekend

Kay Williams Prumty submitted the following dress rehearsal photos Tuesday as dancers prepared for their weekend performance at Worthington's Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center.1 / 5
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WORTHINGTON — Once upon a time, a young woman who loved to groove and tumble as a child founded a dance studio in a small town situated on the southwestern prairies of Minnesota.

Twenty-two years later, Kay Williams Prunty’s The Dance Academy (TDA) is still going strong in Worthington, and TDA’s 22nd annual dance concert, displaying the talents of 200-plus students, is set to take place this Friday and Saturday at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center.

A 2018 theme of “Once Upon a Time” indicates that a majority of the concert’s musical selections to which Prunty’s dancers will pirouette, tap and twirl stem from literature.

“Personally, I love to read, and so many of the books, stories and fables represented in the music we’re using are also favorites of mine,” said Prunty. “It’s been great to see the kids get excited about reading, and to use some of their reading material as the inspiration for our dances.”

For the younger ones, fairy tales and Little Golden Books provided source material, while older dancers chose music used in film adaptations of popular series such as “The Hunger Games,” “Twilight” and J.K. Rowling’s renowned Harry Potter.

“I asked each class to suggest books they loved, and we ended up with everything from ‘My Little Pony’ to ‘Star Wars,’” she said.

“And of course we have some worship dances, with music drawn from the Holy Bible.”

Costuming, Prunty assures, has been extra fun to plan. For instance, the Harry Potter-aligned class, largely comprised of fourth- and fifth-grade dancers, will channel Harry’s famous spectacles and Hogwarts apparel.

“It’s not just the traditional pink tutus,” Prunty mentioned, “although there will be some of those, too.”

A Cinderella mini-ballet will highlight the TDA dancers who have taken additional ballet instruction from Prunty (beginning and elementary ballet) and Molly Bishop (intermediate and advanced ballet instructor).

Other TDA teaching assistants in 2017-18 are Sam Becker, Taylor Hastings and Laura Koepsell.  

In a move some parents and grandparents in particular may appreciate, Prunty has made a few changes to her typical concert format in a bid to slightly shorten the overall performance time — although the performance schedule itself remains largely the same as in past years, with a 6:30 p.m. Friday show, a 1 p.m. Saturday performance and a 6:30 p.m. gala program.

“Each of the first two concerts will be a little shorter than those of past years,” said Prunty, “because each class will be performing only two dances at each show.”

Nevertheless, each class will dance all of their choreographed numbers (jazz, tap and ballet) over the course of the two days.

“As our program has grown, we’ve added dances and classes and outgrown our ability to do it all in every show,” said Prunty.

“And really, the dance concert represents just a glimpse of what we work on and do every year — and this has been an amazing season of dance with all the students.”

TDA bids farewell to five graduating seniors this weekend: Cheyanne Bos, Taylor Hastings, Gina Huber, Alyssa Johnson and Alizaye Prins. Those students, along with other upper-middle school and high school dancers, as well as a select few other classes, will be featured at the Saturday night gala performance.

“What’s really fun about the gala is that we can showcase our competition routines — duets, trios and small groups — as well as student choreography from those dancers who have gone above and beyond,” said Prunty, who teaches the art of choreography in her upper level courses as well as basic dance skills.

Prunty expresses gratitude for the assistance and skill of Memorial Auditorium staff Mark Brodin and Tammy Makram, as well as for the “dance families” who make her work possible.

“I’m completely thrilled to have such amazing, ongoing support from parents and the entire community of Worthington,” said Prunty.

“It’s such a delight to share what we’ve been working on, and after 22 years I still feel so honored and blessed to pass on the love of dance and movement to students.”

The Dance Academy’s spring dance concerts take place at 6:30 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Saturday (gala performance) at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center, 714 13th St., Worthington. Tickets (reserved seating) for all shows may be purchased at the box office from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays, by calling 376-9101 or by visiting; tickets are also available at the door prior to each show time.