20th annual Christmas Celebration rings in the season


KATELYN BRITZMAN Exaltation! Dance and Choral Company performing at A Christmas Celebration.

Danielle Sons, Lifestyles Reporter

The magic of Christmas spirit is on the horizon with the coming of the production of the 20th Annual Year of a Christmas Celebration performed by Exaltation! dance and choral company. This event will be showcased from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 8 in Doner Auditorium.

There are many holiday traditions people keep up when winter weather and Christmas spirit hits. For those who participate in the annual Christmas Celebration production, it is a time to reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ and enjoy putting on a show that brings everyone together.

A Christmas Celebration includes different kinds of artistry to tell the story of Jesus Christ’s birth that everyone can participate in.

This includes dancers, choral musicians, actors and technicians, that consist of South Dakota State University’s faculty, alumni, students and Brookings community members. People with a love for the arts and Christmas are invited and encouraged to participate each year, even though some may have graduated or moved away.

“I am so lucky to be a part of this production. It has become one of the traditions that I look forward to each year near Christmas. Being a part of this professional production is always an inspirational experience,” said Tred Trooien, a member of the choral production since 2001 and a faculty member in the agricultural and biosystems engineering department.

Traditions bring about the full force of Christmas spirit, and that goes for all of the individuals participating in this production, as well as the audience who come to watch.  

A production cannot go on without rehearsals, though. Both the choral and dance ensemble practice for up to three to four weeks ahead of the actual performance date, though each of these groups practice separately. However, as the performance date creeps closer, all of the participants gather as a full company and run two complete practices then it’s showtime.

“There is something significantly special about this performance … The piece brings a sense of meaning, peace, and comfort to performers and audience members alike,”  said Melissa Mork, who organized this year’s production and has been a part of a Christmas Celebration for all 20 years. “The performance allows us to escape the commercialism that often permeates this holiday and contemplate the joy of anticipation and hope that the season brings to many of us.”

It just [wouldn’t] feel like Christmas for me without the Christmas Celebration.

— Linde Murray

As all things do, the production has evolved over time. New faces appear in the ranks of those participating, including some of the children who watched their parents perform in earlier years. New dance numbers are added to make everything more contemporary, and only last year, new songs were added to replace older pieces from previous performances.

By sharing the true spirit of the holiday season, a Christmas Celebration production is able to demonstrate how a tradition can bring people together from far and wide, to gather together and bask in the love brought about through the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Linde Murray, a graduate of SDSU who now works in the Wintrode Student Success Center said, “It just [wouldn’t] feel like Christmas for me without the Christmas Celebration.”

With all the SDSU connections, the production surely brings that home feeling before actually being home for the holidays. Another SDSU faculty member, Ross Abraham, a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, has been a part of the choir in a Christmas Celebration for the last 18 years.

“[A Christmas Celebration] puts me in a good frame of mind for the season, but unlike most other Christmas programs you get to see and hear the story in a very different way.” Abraham said, “The dancers and the dances are beautiful, powerful, and amazing and the music is so inspiring – I can’t get it out of my head for days afterward.”

Join in on the Christmas spirit at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 8 in Doner Auditorium while many community members past and present,  perform a Christmas Celebration for the 20th year in a row in hopes of continuing this yuletide tradition for years to come.