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Young members of Kay Williams Prunty’s Dance Academy rehearse their tap number “Good Ship Lollipop” Tuesday night at Memorial Auditorium in Worthington. Brian Korthals/Daily Globe

Dance Academy’s 18th annual concert is Friday, Saturday

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WORTHINGTON — If anyone can bring order and grace from a chaotic cluster of adorable 4- to 6-year olds excitedly prancing about in red, white and blue tutus, it’s Kay Williams Prunty.

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“Do you see the red curtain?” asked Prunty pointedly at a dress rehearsal on the stage of the Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center for one of the numerous Dance Academy classes scheduled to perform there this weekend.

“You need to be straight across from the red curtain,” she coached. “Now, big arms up —then down. OK, let’s do it again from the very beginning.”

Prunty’s 18th annual spring dance concert will feature roughly 200 performers, ages 3 to adult, and this year’s show carries the theme “Stars and Stripes Forever” — made immediately evident by the enormous flag (courtesy of Perkins Restaurant) that serves as the stage backdrop.

“It’s been such a fun year,” said Prunty. “This is a patriotic concert dedicated to all past and present U.S. service people, as well as firefighters, police officers and other public servants who work to make our lives better.”

“God Bless the U.S.A.” will both open and close each of the three performances while tap numbers to “Yankee Doodle,” “American Girl” and the “Washington Post” march are interspersed with jazz routines set to “In the Navy” and “It’s America,” among many others.

There’s even a ballet number danced to “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” tossed in for good measure.

“Really, almost all of the songs are either patriotic or are representative of America in some way,” explained Prunty. “And the costumes are mostly red, white and blue, or a combination of those colors, or camouflage.”

Prunty said her brother, Chief Master Sgt. Scott Williams, who is currently stationed in Alaska with the U.S. Air Force, had much to do with the concert’s emphasis.

“Scott is always my inspiration for military things, and I tend to be pretty patriotic myself,” she said. “Scott just achieved his chief ranking last fall, and when I went to his awards ceremony, it reinforced for me how much these people give of their lives for us.

“And so many of our dance families have members who are either former military people or are still in active service.

“I’m just so thankful for all of them.”

Prunty is also glad to reflect on her graduating seniors, who have spent a combined 51 years under her tutelage.

“These are dancers who truly put their hearts and souls into dance, and each of them is a leader and a strong presence in the studio,” said Prunty of her Class of ’14 dancers — Rachel Drietz, Brooke Johnson, Paige Kinley, Tracy Prins and LaLissa Wiens.

“They will leave big shoes to fill, and it’s always hard to say goodbye to my dancers because I get so attached to these kids.”

Two highlights in this weekend’s shows will be the “Dads’ Dance,” with 25 fathers of young dancers filling the stage, and a ballet created by Prunty that involves elementary, intermediate and advanced ballet students titled “The Enchanted Forest.”

Additionally, audience members are invited to bring in pop tabs for donation to the Ronald McDonald House, in support of a student’s family.

“Alison Fest, 7, recently donated bone marrow for her younger brother Alex, and she and her family (Kimberly and Levi Fest of Heron Lake) are staying at the Ronald McDonald House near the Children’s Hospital in the Twin Cities,” shared Prunty.

“We’ll weigh the pop tabs that are brought in, and the person at each show who brings in the most pop tabs will get a prize.”

Prunty’s annual dance concerts — the first two include all her students, while the Saturday evening show primarily focuses on the talents of middle and high school level dancers — are the result of a year’s hard work on the part of her dancers, and they do not come to life without the involvement of many others, Prunty stresses.

“Certainly I need to thank my husband, Mark, and my entire family, as well as so many friends who give me a lot of support to make it all happen,” said Prunty.

“Also, Center Sports deserves acknowledgment, and Jaycox Implement, and my teaching assistants (Lauren Martin, Katherine Luke, Sam Becker and McKenna Prunty) have helped tremendously throughout the whole year.”

Prunty, who after nearly two decades as a dance instructor in Worthington is now teaching some children of her former students, is eager to share the fruits of her dancers’ efforts at this weekend’s performances — but not before a few more rehearsals take place.

“Let’s do that one more time to solidify it,” urged Prunty tirelessly to a group of youngsters earlier this week. “You made it even better — I’m so proud of you.”

The Dance Academy’s spring dance concerts are at 7 p.m. Friday and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, all at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center, 714 13th St., Worthington. Advance tickets are available for purchase at Center Sports, 316 10th St., Worthington, until noon Friday. Tickets may also be purchased at the door beginning one hour before each performance.

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