Concord Dance Academy 40th anniversary recital brings the Capitol Center back to life

View Photo Gallery
  • Derek Taylor (center) leads the dance number “Life is like a Train’ at the dress rehearsal of the 40th Concord Dance Academy event at the Capitol Center for the Arts live presentation on Saturday afternoon. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Derek Taylor (center) leads the dance number “Life is like a Train’ at the dress rehearsal of the 40th Concord Dance Academy event at the Capitol Center for the Arts live presentation on Saturday afternoon. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Derek Taylor gets ready to perform at the start of the dress rehearsal at the 40th Concord Dance Academy recital at the Capitol Center for the Arts on Thursday evening, June 3, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Ballet dancers rehearse at for the 40th Concord Dance Academy recital at the Capitol Center for the Arts on Thursday evening.

  • Dancers line up for their performance during the dress rehearsal for the 40th Concord Dance Academy event at Capitol Center for the Arts that will be live on Saturday afternoon. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Karliegh Walsh, 3, takes a bow at the dress rehearsal for the 40th Concord Dance Academy recital.

  • Derek Taylor belts out the opening number, “Life is Like a Train” during dress rehearsal for the 40th Concord Dance Academy celebration at the Capitol Center for the Arts on Thursday. The show will be the first live performance at the CCA since the pandemic hit. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Dancers rehearse at for the 40th Concord Dance Academy recital at the Capitol Center for the Arts on Thursday evening, June 3, 2021 for the live Saturday performance. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Cindy Flanagan back in 1989 at the Concord Dance Academy. This year is the 40th year of the dance school. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The opening number ‘Life is like a Train’ at the 40th Concord Dance Academy recital at the Capitol Center for the Arts on Thursday evening, June 3, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Dancers watch others at the Concord Dance Academy in this 1990 file photo. The academy is celebrating its 40th recital today at the Capitol Center for the Arts. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • A ballet dance watches from behind the side curtain as the dress rehearsal continues at the 40th Concord Dance Academy recital on Thursday evening, June 3, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Part of the 40th Concord Dance Academy dress rehearsal for Saturday's recital at the Capitol Center for the Arts on Thursday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Dancers get their photographs taken by their parents after the dress rehearsal at the 40th Concord Dance Academy recital.

  • Ballet dancers rehearse at for the 40th Concord Dance Academy recital at the Capitol Center for the Arts on Thursday evening, June 3, 2021 for the live Saturday performance. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/4/2021 11:53:26 AM

Bringing the city’s biggest dance event back into the Capitol Center for the Arts after that building was shuttered for a year was never going to be easy. Then, came the sound system.

“We hadn’t been in there before, and when we were doing it for the first time we had a problem: All the (audio) settings are for a full house. People absorb sound, you know … because we don’t have a full house, we are social distancing, we have to adjust all the audio down so it doesn’t echo,” said Cindy Flanagan, founder of the Concord Dance Academy.

The Academy is celebrating its 40th anniversary Saturday with a recital of 225 students, the first large event inside the Chubb Theater since COVID-19 shut everything down. Its theme, appropriately enough, is “The show must go on.”

While the theater isn’t completely back to normal – attendance is limited to 450 out of 1,350 seats and the show’s finale was canceled because it would put too many dancers on the stage at once – it’s a sign that Concord’s biggest performing arts venue is waking up.

A couple other rental events are scheduled, including a beauty pageant, and then as of Aug. 1, touring acts will start appearing to a full house, unless there’s a COVID-19 resurgence and New Hampshire has to clamp down again.

Other live performance venues around the state are slowly opening. The Palace Theater in Manchester, for example, planned to open its smaller Rex Theater on Friday, with comedy shows, although its main stage is currently not slated to open until September.

It’s appropriate that Flanagan is such a part of the Capitol Center’s reopening, because she was on the steering committee that brought it to life in its current form back in 1995.

The academy held last year’s recital via Zoom, which was difficult. It began holding classes and rehearsing last fall in the Page Belting Building, which Flanagan owns. Funds from the Main Street and Paycheck Protection programs helped keep it going.

The former factory has plenty of wide-open spaces to keep students separate and allowed a host of precautions, such as keeping parents outside and classes small.

“We did everything we could to make it as normal for the children as possible. We had mothers come in and say, ‘this is the only normal thing in our child’s life; we live in a small apartment, do Zoom all year, we’re so glad for this,’ ” Flanagan said.

Despite all the complications, classes went well. “We had no instances (of disease) the whole year. We began talking to the theater, ‘maybe we can get back on stage,’ ” said Flanagan.

One difficulty to returning now was an air shaft that had begun to buckle. The Capitol Center took the shutdown as an opportunity to fix it but work kept the school out of the building until the last minute. Many dance teachers had not seen their classes perform on stage until this week, Flanagan said.

Even with all the problems, however, returning to the big stage is a thrill.

“People were emotional to be physically back in that building,” said Carl Smith, the group’s sound manager.

The recital is a major fundraiser for the academy, which is taking a hit limiting the audience size. They’re trying an experiment: Each dancer can buy at most two family tickets; other family members or friends who watch to watch can do it online via live stream at $20 per ticket.

“That way everybody who wants to see it, can see it in some way,” said Flanagan. “Normally we do two shows, sell 2,400 tickets. This year we’re only able to sell 400. We pray that people will buy the live stream, and we’ll have to do a few fundraisers.”

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)


Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301
603-224-5301

 

© 2020 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy