- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday revelers bundled against the December wind enjoyed the dancing and twirling of young performers who performed as part of a month-long celebration near the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse Sunday.

This was the fifth year the Children of the Light Dancers performed on the prominent stage, but each time is “a very big deal,” said Jeannine Lacquement, the group’s executive director.

“What’s really cool about it is we don’t have to audition,” Ms. Lacquement said. “It’s more of a hometown feel, like in the old days of pageants. And we really appreciate that they take the time to make the stage.”

The Fairfax-based dance troupe — whose members range from kindergartners to high school seniors — is one of dozens of acts invited to the Ellipse to entertain holiday celebrants.

Dance groups, bands, singers and even cloggers are scheduled for this year’s music program, which runs through Friday.

Christine Hays (kneeling) directs the Children of the Light Dancers from a spot in front of the audience while performing near the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse. (T.J. Kirkpatrick/The Washington Times)
Christine Hays (kneeling) directs the Children of the Light Dancers from a ... more >

Some of the performers scheduled for this week include the Lee High School Madrigals, on Tuesday; the Potonacs, from the District, on Wednesday; the Singing Angels, from Cleveland, on Thursday; and the Boyle School of Irish Dance, from Manassas, on Friday.

Children of the Light Dancers incorporate spiritual lyrics and choreography into their dances, many of which are designed by the older dancers who are encouraged to give back to the troupe.

Sharon Lee, 17, was one such student-choreographer. After the show, she said choreographing a dance is much different than being in one.

“But it’s so much fun,”Ms. Lee said. “And the girls are so great.”

The stage is close to the national tree and along the Pathway of Peace, a collection of 56 smaller trees that are decorated to represent the 50 states, U.S. territories and the District.

The national tree remains lit through Jan. 1, but the pathway exhibits stays up only through Friday.

This year’s national tree is a new Colorado blue spruce from New Jersey and stands 26 feet 4 inches. It was planted in the spring after the spruce that occupied the spot for 33 years blew down during strong February winds.

Washington has had a National Christmas Tree every year since 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lit a “Community Christmas Tree.”

The tree was not lit from 1942 to 1944, when a blackout was in place during World War II.