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A Holly Jolly Recital

By: Jan Morgan-Swegle

I have heard Disney commercials proclaiming that Disneyland is the “happiest place on earth.” Obviously, the Disney marketing team have never been to the Leland Cultural Arts Center (LCAC)—the happiest place I know. No matter what you do there, you will leave with a smile on your face.

I’m sure I’ll leave with a smile on my face after attending the Holly Jolly Recital at the Center on Wednesday, Dec. 14. The Recital will showcase holiday themed performances in Children’s Dance, Violin, Tap, Piano and Belly Dancing. The program is free to the public and starts at 6 pm at the center, 1212 Magnolia Village Way.

Kirsti Armstrong, the LCAC Program Coordinator and Stage Manager, said that this is the second Holly Jolly Holiday Recital the LCAC instructors have put together. “Just like last year, the children will perform first,” she said. “They’ve been practicing for the past few months and they are really excited to show what they have learned.”

“This is a family-friendly holiday event. You get to enjoy a sense of community celebrating the performing arts. These performers are your friends and neighbors and it means a lot to them to have the support of the community to cheer them on. It’s not easy performing in front of people,” she said.

In her role as Coordinator and Stage Manager, Kirsti organizes everything — from getting the performers on stage at the right time to ensuring that the performances appeal to the audience and showcase the holiday spirit. “That’s the hard part,” she said. “The fun part is finally getting to the evening of the event and seeing it all come together; seeing the kids be so proud of themselves when they come off stage. They are so excited about what they just did and they did it in front of their parents and extended family.”

Working with the children this year in dance is Youth Dance Instructor, Tracie Rabalais. Tracie has been teaching dance for more than 20 years and has been at LCAC for the past eight years. Her group has been practicing since the fall and will be performing ballet and tap routines. Tracie will have three classes performing at the Recital in the age 3 to 8 category.

“I really enjoy doing this,” Tracie said. “It’s challenging but fun for me. Seeing the kids perform puts everyone in the holiday spirit. I enjoy seeing the children find their love for dance and have fun working on their art. It’s a joy for me to share my love of dance with the community. I also enjoy getting to know the students and their families.”

Piano Instructor Larry McLendon has been teaching at LCAC for five years, although he has been teaching piano for the past 35 years in his own studio and at the college level.

Having spent that many years sharing his skills and knowledge of music and piano, I asked Larry what he enjoys most about teaching. “I enjoy the satisfaction of seeing children and adults learn the language of music; going from a beginner and over time, moving to the advanced level,” he said.

One of Larry’s students, 10-year Adelia Luttmer, will be performing. Her mother, Brooke, said that Adelia “is nervous but excited to be performing. This is her second recital.” Brooke continued, “I enjoy watching Adelia perform. She does well under pressure and it’s a beautiful thing to watch her and all of the kids try and do their best.” Brooke also had high praise for the center. “I love LCAC. The teachers are friendly and really know their subjects well. They are great with the kids.”

Adelia grew up listening to the Beatles and likes to tackle the guitar every once in a while. She actually started studying in 2019, but stopped due to COVID and resumed her lessons in 2021. Her father, Justin, got a digital piano for Christmas a few years ago and intended to teach himself to play. Adelia took an interest in learning the piano, so her parents enrolled her in classes. “She’s a very creative person and as such, we do whatever we can to nurture her curiosity and develop her skills in all manner of art forms,” Justin said. She has taken a number of clay classes and a sewing class at LCAC.”

The Holly Jolly Holiday Recital promises to be a wonderful, family event, full of music, talent and smiles.

I asked Kirsti what is in store for the viewing audience in 2023. “Oh, we have plenty of things in the works,” she said. “Possibly including theatre classes, maybe vocals, anything that is related to the performing arts or art in general. We want to offer what interests our community.”

We won’t have to wait until 2023 for another LCAC event that is sure to be of interest. The “Ugly Sweater” Party on Dec. 9 from 7-9 pm. Kirsti and Zoey LeTendre are co-coordinators of the event. “This is truly for everyone to get out and have a good time,” Kirsti said. “Forget about the stress of the parties or events; let us take care of entertaining you.”

The event will be in the multi-purpose room at LCAC with Holy Heat performing seasonal music and original rock songs. Winners will be judged by the old fashioned, “applause meter” during the intermission. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners will get to choose a prize from Island Beverage, Good Hops, Bridgewater, Flytrap or Wilmington Brewery.

Tickets are $15 at the door or, if you want to get tickets early, you can go online at, or stop in at the LCAC before the event.

If ugly sweaters aren’t your thing, Leland is also offering the Holiday Art Market on Dec. 3 from 10 am to 3 pm as well as the Grand Illumination with Santa on that same date from 6-8 pm at Founders Park, Town Hall Drive in Leland. There will also be a showing of the movie “Polar Express” on Dec. 10, starting at 6 pm, also at Founders Park.

Finally, you can jump on the Leland Express for a train ride at Founders Park on Dec. 3, 9, 10,16, and 17.

So, “all aboard, Leland,” and have a great holiday season.


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