For dancer Chelsea Preston, this Christmas will be a little different than usual.
“This will be the first time in, I think about eight years, that I will be home for the whole month of December,” Preston told the News Bulletin.
Preston, a former resident of Qualicum Beach, has returned home this month to prepare for her upcoming role as a dancer in the Yellowpoint Christmas Spectacular, which will kick off this weekend in Nanaimo at Cedar Community Hall.
“I am super thankful to have the opportunity to perform so close to home. That’s really special to me,” she said.
This year’s production has 14 professional musicians and dancers and will feature songs by popular artists such as the Bee Gees and Elton John.
“I’ve never actually done a Christmas-themed show before. It’s a lot of fun and it is the best way to get into the Christmas spirit,” Preston said.
Preston began dancing at the age of three and is a former Parksville Ballet School student.
As a teenager, Preston moved to the Lower Mainland to attend the Richmond Academy of Dance. She said the decision to move was a critical step in her career.
“This is what I needed to do to become a better dancer and performer,” Preston said. “It just seemed so clear to me.”
After graduating from MacEwan University for Theatre Arts, where she focused more on singing and acting, Preston spent two years living in London, England, and appeared in the Off West End production of One Touch of Venus.
Although Preston moved to the U.K. for personal reasons, living in one of the world’s biggest cities helped her grow as a dancer.
“It is a lot more competitive, which is really awesome because it pushes you in ways that a smaller pond doesn’t,” Preston said. “It was a good learning tool to be in such a big pond and sort of struggling. I learned a lot of things about myself and about this job.”
As as a dancer, singer and actor, Preston’s credits include Hairspray, Letters and Words, The Wedding Singer, Chicago, A Connecticut Yankee, Little Me and Grand Hotel.
In 2011, Preston choreographed The Hoof and Mouth Advantage. The production earned a Sterling Award nomination for Outstanding Choreography in 2012.
Preston explained that one of the more difficult things about being a dancer is learning the steps to each performance.
“That’s a huge process,” she said. “The whole learning process is about muscle memory, but then you also have to go over it mentality. Sometimes you can rely on just your muscle memory, but a lot of times you have to go over everything in your head.”
Costumes also play a huge role, as they can make things easier or tougher for a dancer.
“I’ve had ridiculous hats,” she said. “In Spamalot, I had a hat that was a foot tall and it throws off your whole centre of gravity.”
The Yellowpoint Christmas Spectacular runs from Dec. 5 to Dec. 7 and from Dec. 12 to Dec. 14 at Cedar Community Hall, 2388 Cedar Rd. The show will then run from Dec. 19 until Dec. 21 at the Port Theatre. For a detailed list of show times, ticket prices and to purchase tickets, please visit bit.ly/11UQMdh.
For more information on Preston, please visit www.girlinthehoundstoothcoat.blogspot.ca.