Little March Girl

Abby Hammer will be playing the title role in "The Little Match Girl," a Siouxland Civic Dance Association ballet that will be performed at 2 p.m. Sunday at Morningside College's Klinger-Neal Theatre.

SIOUX CITY -- A dancer since the age of 3, Abby Hammer is accustomed to telling a story through the way she moves.

However, playing the titular lead in the Siouxland Civic Dance Association production of Ballet Sioux's "The Little Match Girl" requires as much acting as it does dancing.

"That's the challenging part," Abby, now 13 years old, said. "You're not acting through words. You're acting through the way you move." 

Based upon Hans Christian Andersen's Christmas fable, "The Little Match Girl" will be performed at 2 p.m. Sunday inside Klinger-Neal Theatre on the campus of Morningside College, 1501 Morningside Ave.

The show, a bittersweet tale set in the streets of London in the late 19th century, is very special to Shirley Dill, the co-founder (with husband Terry Dill) and director of the Siouxland Movement Arts Center.

"In 1973, the Iowa Fine Arts Grant commissioned Terry and myself to create an original ballet based upon 'The Little Match Girl,'" Dill explained. "Using the music of (composer Claude) Debussey, Terry and I choreographed the show while our daughter Tracy Bennett danced the title part."

Last performed in 1977, the show has been revived, this year, by both Dill and Bennett.

To reiterate, this version of "The Little Match Girl" is adapted by its original choreographer as well as its original star.

That's not intimidating. Right, Abby? 

"Actually, Shirley and Tracy have been very helpful to me," she said. "It's been a great experience."

Indeed, Dill is quick to praise her leading lady's versatility.

"Not only is Abby an excellent dancer but she plays the trumpet and runs track," Dill said, marveling at the multi-faceted West Middle School eighth grader.

As for Abby, she'd like to keep dancing as long as she can.

A recent trip to New York exposed her to the American Ballet Theatre production of Alexei Ratmansky's "Whipped Cream" and she's looking forward to participating when the Moscow Ballet comes to Sioux City's Orpheum Theatre for a Dec. 3 performance of "Nutcracker Ballet."

"I'd like to keep on dancing through college," Abby said. "I also wouldn't mind teaching dance some day."

So, does she aspire to have a career of a famous prima ballerina? Well, only if ballerinas are allowed to have some "Uptown Funk," that is.

"I do admire Bruno Mars," Abby said. "He can sing, dance, play music and do everything well."

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