Danielle Labelle displays her handcrafted Nutcracker costume she's been working on ahead of Saturday's Labelle Dance Studio performance in the Fruitvale Memorial Hall

Crafted costumes add sparkle to classic show

The Nutcracker-inspired ballet will be performed by 42 young ballerinas in the Fruitvale Hall this weekend

Baby sugar plum fairies, tiny snowflakes and wee toys coming to life will take centre stage during a Nutcracker-inspired ballet performance in the Fruitvale Hall this weekend.

Young ballerinas ages two to 12 will be on pointe Saturday at 6 p.m. to display their pliés and pirouettes during a recital of the classic Christmas ballet story.

Danielle Labelle from Studio Labelle Dance has worked for months to teach balance, movement and dance techniques to the 42 young ballerinas, who live from Salmo to Trail.

The mother of two is passionate about ballet, having studied for 17 years with the Royal Academy of Dance under Trail instructor Carol Bonin.

This is the third year Labelle’s students have been highlighted in a Christmas show that features the teacher’s skill for creating magical stage sets and handcrafting costumes the little ballerinas dream of.

“I have a baby this year, so I’ve done a little less sewing and more embellishing,” said Labelle. “My husband would say I’ve been sewing forever,” she laughed. “It does take a big part of my schedule but it’s obsessive and it’s fun to do by hand.”

The costumes all have a little something special with glittery snowflakes, hand sewn roses, sequins for the “Spanish Dance,” handmade flower wreaths, and delicately trimmed crowns.

But there’s one detail Labelle is  still working on that she hopes will bring the audience to its feet during the finale.

“My obsession right now is how to make it snow on stage,” she explained. “I want the snow to gently float down, and I have to figure it out yet. But I will, and it’s going to be magical.”

Another classic feature on the Nutcracker stage is the elaborately decorated evergreens that are part of an enchanted forest wonderland during “The Land of Snow” scene.

Besides her toddler students becoming dancing snowflakes, Labelle has bought 10 large Christmas trees to set the mood for the performance. Now, she is looking for families who would like a real tree, to come forward and take one home the following day.

“I tend to insanely decorate the hall,” she said.

“So I have these great big trees to donate. Two are spoken for, but eight are left for families in the community.”

For information visit www.studiolabelledance.com.

Labelle turned her passion for dance into a business four years ago, offering classical ballet lessons from her home studio in Fruitvale.

The ballet studio is one way Labelle is bringing more arts to the village, as well as provide options for young girls or boys in need on an extracurricular activity close to home.

“When I first started I thought this would become a Fruitvale niche, but people are travelling which is really great. Teaching ballet, and performing arts in general, for children, is a passion for me because it is a confidence builder, and that’s so important.”

Her small classes offer structured sessions that focus on technique but are also fun, with an end of class dress up.

“Dance nourishes the child’s concentration, the ability to think and react fast and discipline for the future years,” explained Labelle. “It influences the child’s behaviour at school and at home. Dancing is a wonderful way to get physical activity, and it helps encourage the child’s unique individuality.”

Not only does ballet influence coordination and musical rhythm understanding, it helps kids develop social skills in a supportive environment, she said.

“Even if you don’t know the kids in the show, I do my best to make it fun and interesting for everyone to come and see,” added Labelle. “Because when dancers are on stage and applauded it’s so exciting and it does something for their confidence, even at three years old. All of a sudden they realize that they have something special that they want to share.”

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