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Statesboro's Averitt Center presents Christmas Around the World
Averitt Center logo

The Averitt Center for the Arts will kick off the holiday season with "Christmas Around the World" performances this weekend.

They are scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

"The program was designed to involve our performing arts students in a collaborative holiday program," said Tim Chapman, the Averitt Center's executive director.

The directors and instructors from the Averitt Center's ballet, choral, strings and theater programs have created an original holiday production that will premiere in Statesboro and travel to Glennville, at that community's invitation, in early December.

Each youth performance program will present international holiday traditions in their performance discipline. Some of the countries represented include Norway, China, Russia, Italy, Germany, Taiwan and Ireland.

"One of the great things about working outside one's own discipline is learning the value of other art forms," said Jackie Gordon, head instructor in the Statesboro Youth Theatre. "I can see my students are developing an appreciation of the other performance disciplines, and working together to create a collaborative performance has been a great experience for all involved."

Jurijs Safonovs, the artistic director of the Statesboro Youth Ballet, uses his international background and recent cultural exchange with Taiwanese dancers to bring several newly choreographed works to the production. In fact, a dance in honor of the traditional Taiwanese fan dance uses authentic silk fans signed and given to him by the Taiwanese exchange students who spent time in Statesboro last year.

"Being able to use their gift in a performance featuring the holiday traditions of other cultures is very special," Safonovs said. "I'm taking what I learned during our exchange and passing that information on to my students. It's a time-honored way of passing down tradition and culture. This is how dance has been taught for generations."

Gordon's theater students have enjoyed learning about traditions closer to home — how most familiar Christmas traditions are based in folk tales and traditions of European countries and have since developed into something uniquely American. The best-known example is probably how the American Santa Claus is derived from a compilation of Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas and Kris Kringle.

Gordon's students will bring to life the story behind the tradition of Christmas tinsel. Their version of "The Spider's Gift" is especially charming.

The Statesboro Youth Chorale, under the artistic direction of Sarah Hancock, will present music from various countries in native languages.

"One of the many benefits of learning classical vocal repertoire is learning to sing in other languages," said Hancock. "Not only is this musically challenging and fun, but it introduces young children to thinking about children in other cultures, to be more globally aware."

The final number of the production is a reinterpretation of the familiar English carol "Twelve Days of Christmas" with a new musical arrangement by Dr. Michael Braz. The carol will be sung by members of the youth chorale, accompanied by members of the Statesboro Youth Strings and Braz. Meanwhile, members of the youth ballet and theater programs will visually interpret the song.

"I predict this number will become an annual Statesboro tradition," said Gordon, with a laugh. "It's just that good!"

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youth under 12. You can get your ticket in advance by calling (912) 212-2787 or stopping by to purchase online. Box office hours are noon to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.


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