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Muppets to take over NACC

Ally Curtis, left, and Colleen Nagel pose for a photo with Kermit the Frog during a break in their technical rehearsals at the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre on May 30. The two dancers are also teachers at Bella Dance Academy, both are teaching and dancing in this weekend's The Muppets performance at NACC. The Muppets, with dancers aged seven to 18, runs from Friday to Sunday. A Mini Muppets performance, for dancers aged two to six, takes place next Saturday and Sunday. Emelie Peacock/NNSL Photo

Jim Henson's Muppets are taking over Northern Arts and Cultural Centre this weekend.

Bella Dance Academy will be showcasing two year-end recitals featuring roughly 180 students ages seven to 18.

Ally Curtis, 15, has been dancing since she was four-years old and for the past year she has been teaching some of the youngest dancers at Bella Dance Academy.

For her, the show is all about smiles, energy and great characters.

“There's so much energy through the entire show and everyone's really excited to be here and it's going to be funny,” she said.

Costumes and musical numbers take inspiration from The Muppet Show. Kermit the Frog makes an appearance as do a few other lovable characters such as Statley and Waldorf - perhaps more well-known as the two grumpy-man puppets.

Performance styles including tap dance, musical theatre, ballet and jazz dance will be showcased.

Bella Dance Academy studio director Phoenix Smith called the show family friendly, and adding they will appeal to both children and children at heart.

“The Muppets, especially in the last couple of years, have kind of made a comeback,” she said. “So they appeal to both the parents, who will recognize all of the characters from their childhood, and then it appeals to the younger kids through Sesame Street and the movies that have come out.”

The thrill of seeing her students learn, improve and enjoy themselves on stage is what is most rewarding for 16-year-old Colleen Nagel, who has been a teacher at Bella Dance Academy for four years.

“We have all ages, all shapes and sizes, everyone can dance,” she said. “If you have a body you can dance. Even if you think you can't dance, you can dance.”

In terms of participants, choreography and timing, the two shows are massive but for Nagel this is nothing new. Both she and Curtis have been involved in previous large-scale productions including The Nutcracker.

Preparations for the show began in January, with weekly practices for all of the students involved in the production.

“All these girls are really hard workers, they have really strong work ethics,” she said. “We're all just really focused, really dedicated to what we do.”

Four performances of The Muppets will be shown from Friday to Sunday this week, and next weekend The Mini Muppets, featuring 120 students from the ages of two to six, will take the stage for three shows.