TUPELO • The North Mississippi Dance Centre is doubling up on its support of St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

The dance studio has for the past six years hosted “Hope for the Holidays,” a benefit performance in November for the renowned pediatric center in Memphis. This year, audiences will have two opportunities to see the local dancers and show their support to children undergoing cancer treatments.

“Hope for the Holidays” will be presented twice this weekend – 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, both at the Tupelo High School Performing Arts Center.

The NMDC has raised almost $100,000 for St. Jude since starting the annual performance, said NMDC director Beth Richardson.

“We reached a little over $90,000 last year,” she said. “Any money that can be raised is helpful to the hospital. We’re able to help multiple children with our effort.”

Richardson also said having a second performance gives the studio’s students and members of the Civic Ballet, the dance company based out of the NMDC, an extra opportunity to be on stage.

“The girls want to perform as much as possible,” she said.

Civic Ballet began collaborating with the NMDC last year. Once again, “The Snow Queen” – inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale story – will be performed. Thom Yzaguirre, Civic Ballet’s artistic director, said the response was so good for last year’s Sunday performance, a second show on Saturday night was added.

“Last year, when I came on board, we decided to make it more of a collaboration,” he said. “From the Civic Ballet standpoint, we wanted to expand our winter show. In the past they’ve typically done the Showcase in the fall and a spring ballet. I thought it would be nice for us to have a winter offering as well.”

In addition to “Snow Queen,” the event will include a piece titled “Circular Ascent” – a tribute to the many children and families affected by cancer.

“It deals with the circle of life and how people have to deal with the grief of someone dying, but in the end the girl walks into the light and ascends into heaven,” he said. “It has a hopeful message as well.”

Richardson and Yzaguirre both said the NMDC and the Civic Ballet have increased their investment into the program by adding sets, backdrops and costumes. The dancers and their families have been active in raising money for the hospital.

“We have a lot of individual fund raisers going on,” Richardson said. “Some have made ornaments, some make hair bows. There are a lot of people with independent businesses who add to the overall fundraising total.”

Yzaguirre said, “It’s a great cause; we’re raising money and awareness. It’s good for our students to learn how to give back.”

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12, and they can be purchased at the door or reserved by emailing the NMDC at northmsdance@gmail.com. Tickets can be picked up at Will Call at the Performing Arts Center.

Donations to St. Jude can be made through northmsdance.com/hope-for-the-holidays.

bobby.pepper@journalinc.com

TWITTER: @bobbypepper30

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