‘The Family Blessing’

ST. PETERSBURG – The producers of “The Chocolate Nutcracker” will unveil an exciting new dance theater production entitled “The Family Blessing” at the Mahaffey Theater this December!

This new production showcases the talents of local community youth along with professional choreographers and dancers. Together these artists combine colorful and dazzling styles of dance, music and theater to tell the story of how a young boy’s search for true happiness leads to a revelation that he had “the blessing” all along at home with family and community!

There will be two performances: Sat., Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 21 at 2 p.m.at The Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S., St. Petersburg.

Continuing a theatrical legacy that has been a bay area family tradition every December for the past 17 seasons, the producers have retained many of the dance elements that made “The Chocolate Nutcracker” so spectacular.

“The Family Blessing” weaves ballet, hip hop, jazz, tap, African, Salsa, Mexican Folklorico, Brazilian and Bollywood dance into an exotic tapestry of light, color, music and movement as we follow young Michael’s journey from Harlem streets to the island of Cuba, the mountains of Mexico, South American rainforests, Brazilian Carnival, West African villages and India’s Bollywood.

This extravaganza will be presented by ARTZ 4 Life Academy as part of their mission to enhance education, promote diversity and develop life skills through cultural and performing arts. Many former youth cast members have gone on to pursue professional careers in film, on Broadway, and in performance troupes throughout the world.

The principal character, Michael, is played by Marquis Floyd, former student in ARTZ 4 Life Academy’s afterschool and summer arts programs, long-time member of Dundu Dole Urban African Ballet, graduate of Pinellas County School for the Arts at Gibbs High School and current dance major at Boston Conservatory of Music, Dance and Theater.

The fact that his character’s journey in many ways mirrors his own metamorphosis as an artist means that perhaps Floyd was destined to dance in this role.

“At first, I was shy and timid onstage,” recalled Marquis, “I didn’t realize my self-worth. These programs gave me a foundation and continued to nurture me as my love for dance has grown into a passion for my art form. It’s been said that ‘from humble beginnings come great things’. From my humble beginnings, the diverse training I received has lit a fire in me that will never burn out.”

“Dance is Marquis’s passion,” Floyd’s mother LaShawn said.  Through dance he learned to express himself through different avenues. He began to embrace his gift and master his craft to become a better dancer and a better person. He was able to find his calling and purpose in life and he gives it his all at all times. He is our ‘Family Blessing.’”

Don’t miss this year’s production of “The Family Blessing.” Tickets are on sale now; prices: $17, $27, $37 each. To purchase tickets: call or visit Mahaffey Theater (727) 893-7832. Groups 30 or more: $3 off each ticket. To purchase group tickets call Ms. Barbara (813) 451-4410.

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