Mary Jo Pembrook, PhD, Performing Arts piano and chimes instructor, (right) practices “Jingle Bell Rock” with Gabby Mitchell. EAST ST. LOUIS - With measured concentration and deliberate moves, fingers poise over piano keys, eyes follow sheet notes and feet keep step to rhythmic beats – all to musical tunes of Christmastime favorites.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Center for the Performing Arts students will present their free annual holiday performance, which will be a mini-presentation, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 16 in the Multipurpose Room in Building D at the East St. Louis Higher Education Campus, 601 James R. Thompson Blvd. in East St. Louis.

Get The Latest News!

Don't miss our top stories and need-to-know news everyday in your inbox.

“Our students and staff have been fervently practicing to present a wonderful, exciting and joyous performance,” said Performing Arts Program Director Homer Simmons. “Our annual holiday performance promises to be entertaining and uplifting.

“We will follow federal and SIUE COVID-19 guidelines during the concert, and students will be masked while performing.”

Students rehearse a dance number under the supervision of Jay’Kayla Winford, Performing Arts Dunham Technique, hip-hop and modern dance instructor and choreographer. Shown from left to right are: Kayona Brown, Danae Tyus, Olivia Bell, Nia Barnes and Imani Barnes. Performances will range from musical numbers on the piano, chimes, and drums to dance numbers that include jazz, ballet, hip-hop, and Dunham Technique.

Article continues after sponsor message

Some of what the audience can expect to hear includes “Jingle Bells” on the piano and “Sleigh Ride” on the chimes. Such dance numbers as “A Christmas Dream” and “Frecube” will be performed.

“The students’ ability to display a wide variety of talent is commendable,” said Jack Williams, Performing Arts coordinator.

Performing Arts teachers include: Mary Jo Pembrook, PhD, piano and chimes instructor, Gerald Babatunde Williams, African drum and dance choreographer; and Jay’Kayla Winford, Dunham Technique, hip-hop, and modern dance choreographer.

Students practice “Sleigh Ride” on the chimes under the direction of Pembrook. Shown from left to right are: Pembrook, Mitchell, D.J. Lee, Aunya King, Kacien Fields, Greyson Coates and Meadow Coates. Stretching in the background is Karenza Cox.The SIUE East St. Louis Center for the Performing Arts has a long, rich history. The legendary dancer, anthropologist, and social activist Katherine Dunham founded the Center for Performing Arts at the SIUE East St. Louis Center in 1964. At its peak in the 1990s, the East St. Louis Center for the Performing Arts provided year-round instruction to more than 1,000 youth and became a training ground for professional artists of all disciplines. For decades, the East St. Louis Center for the Performing Arts provided performing arts classes to students and community members to develop local talent and to cultivate a love of the arts. Classes often culminated in musical and theatrical productions.

With a focus on empowering people and strengthening communities, the SIUE East St. Louis Center is dedicated to improving the lives of families and individuals - from pre-school through adult - in the Metro East. Head Start/Early Head Start and a charter high school are among the programs that offer the community renewed hope and an opportunity to reach educational, career, and life goals. The Center also assigns first priority to encouraging, supporting, and improving the educational success of the residents of East St. Louis and surrounding urban communities. The Center provides comprehensive programs, services, and training in the areas of education, health, social services, and the arts.

More like this:

Sep 22, 2023 - Edwardsville Art Fair Features Artists All Weekend

Sep 26, 2023 - Edwardsville Unity Fest Is Free Day Of Activities, Performances And Food

Sep 18, 2023 - Harriss, Elik, Visit Granite City High As Part Of Constitution Day

Jul 20, 2023 - Jerseyville Theatre Student Camden Schroeder To Attend Renowned Interlochen Arts Academy

Jul 25, 2023 - EHS Drama Club Recognized for "SpongBob the Musical" Awards