It's Time to Dance

Photos by Steve Holmes Photography

Each year, MoCo Arts’ School of Dance presents a unique and awe-inspiring performance that showcases the exceptional talents of both teachers and students. 

An annual gem, “Time to Dance” is a true celebration of dance, featuring a variety of original pieces choreographed by the talented MoCo Arts teaching artists. These pieces are then interpreted and brought to life on stage by MoCo’s advanced dancers.

This year, MoCo Arts is returning to the Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College for its 16th annual performance of “Time to Dance” with two performances on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 2 and 7 p.m. More than 70 students will take the stage to perform 13 different pieces they’ve been working on throughout the entire fall semester.

“All of the pieces challenge the students in some way,” said Reagan Messer, executive director and artistic director of the dance program at MoCo Arts. “Sometimes it is with the technique, sometimes the characterization. Each piece really stands on its own, which allows the choreographers to push students within their vision of the piece without having to tie it to a storyline.”

“Time to Dance” incorporates several different styles of dance, including ballet, tap, hip-hop, modern and jazz, and takes audiences on an emotional journey they won’t soon forget. What began as an opportunity for MoCo’s upper-level and repertory students to showcase their talents has become an annual tradition that is revered by students, teachers and audience members alike.

“I always love performing in “Time to Dance” because the pieces are so creative,” said Eliza Holmes, a senior at Keene High School who has been dancing at MoCo Arts since she was 7 years old. “Because no storyline has to be followed, the teachers are able to develop unique pieces that highlight the abilities of the dancers. 

It's Time to Dance

“My favorite piece this year is with the ballet class. We’re dancing to a medley of songs by Queen. The piece is 15 minutes long! It’s a very tiring piece, but there is so much energy and emotion that makes it beautiful.”

The show is performed at the Redfern every other year — the years when MoCo doesn’t perform its rendition of the classic holiday tale, “The Nutcracker.” During their 2018-2019 performance season MoCo Arts students performed “The Nutcracker” at the Redfern in December, and “Time to Dance” in its own black box, The Founder’s Theatre, in March.

MoCo Arts offers dance and theater students several performance opportunities throughout the year. The performance is part of the educational process, the culmination of the semester’s work. It is something that sets MoCo apart from most other dance studios where the focus is on preparing for a recital rather than on interpreting a story through dance. 

Dance students in grades 2 through 12 are invited to participate in MoCo’s Annual Spring Dance Show each year. This year’s spring dance show is “The Little Mermaid,” which will be performed at the Redfern Arts Center in May. Every other year, students are invited to perform in MoCo’s production of “The Nutcracker,” in addition to the upper-level students performing in “Time to Dance.”

Theater students at MoCo Arts have even more opportunities to showcase what they’ve learned. There are musical and straight play classes for three different age groups and each class concludes with a fully produced performance in The Founder’s Theatre.

MoCo’s Young Arts Program provides both dance and theater instruction for the youngest performers. Children ages 18 months through first grade can participate in the Creative Dance or Storytime Theatre classes and enjoy their own performance experience, supported by a dedicated team of arts educators focused on encouraging students to embrace their creativity.

It's Time to Dance

MoCo welcomes all students, wherever they are in their movement and creative arts journey. To support its culture of “arts for all,” MoCo has developed a tuition assistance program that helps ensure that every child who wants to learn and grow in the arts has the opportunity to do so.

“Time to Dance” will be performed Saturday, Jan. 18 at 2 and 7 p.m. at the Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College. This year’s performance is sponsored in part by Connection. Tickets are $20 for adults or $14 for youth and seniors, and are available at the Redfern Arts Center box office, open Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m., or online at keene.universitytickets.com with no processing fees. For more information about MoCo and its mission to “transform lives through movement and creative expression” visit moco.org, call 357-2100 or email

info@moco.org.