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Courtesy photo - Bruce Davis, Denton City Contemporary Ballet

‘Emma’ in wonderland

Company stages local holiday dance tradition

This weekend marks the 15th year Denton City Dance Conservatory will stage A Gift for Emma, a holiday fantasia in dance.

Created by artistic director Lisa Racina, Emma borrows the spirit and tradition of Christmas and replaces a ho-hum winter recital with a story about Emma, a street urchin who sneaks into a dance studio, falls asleep under a Christmas tree and takes a journey. Curious creatures from earth and sea as well as childhood visions usher Emma through a dreamscape and, ultimately, give her the gift of dance.

Racina drafted dancers from among her students at Denton City Contemporary Ballet and its home studio, Denton Dance Conservatory. A Gift for Emma pairs emerging dancers with professional performers.

Professional guest artists return. Yulia Ilina, an alumna of the Kiev Ballet, brings touches of The Nutcracker to the production in her classical grand pas de deux. Chris Koehl, a former faculty member of the Denton conservatory and a contender on the eighth season of So You Think You Can Dance, reprises his popular performance of the robot doll in the show.

Racina’s heart might beat for ballet, but her busy conservatory teaches tap, jazz, hip-hop and modern dance, and Emma still showcases the forms with its G.I. Joe dancers, graceful jellyfish and tap-dancing elves. More than 200 performers appear in the holiday tradition.

— Lucinda Breeding


What: Denton City Contemporary Ballet presents a holiday fantasia in dance by Lisa Racina and guest choreographers

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Krum High School Performance Centre, 700 Bobcat Lane

Details: Tickets cost $12-$18 in advance, $20 at the door. Visit or or call 940-383-2623.