Monterey County Dance Theatre kick-line performers dance between vehicles during a stop along Broadway Street at the July 4 parade in King City. The dancers will return to perform during "A Toast to Dance" on Saturday, July 31. (Sean Roney/Staff)

KING CITY — Monterey County Dance Foundation will host “A Toast to Dance” this Saturday at the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds in King City, celebrating the return of performing arts after the long pandemic shutdown of in-person learning and performances.

Proceeds from the July 31 event are planned to support youth dancers in South Monterey County. The fundraiser, from 5 to 7 p.m., will feature a dinner, raffle, dessert table, a no-host bar and live ballet performances.

The dances will begin with a kickoff from the Monterey County Dance Theatre (MCDT) kick line, followed by vignettes from ballets, such as “Paquita” and “Sleeping Beauty.”

Normally, the summer event for South Monterey County dancers would be the Summer Gala, hosted over two days from the dance studio itself. But the celebration of a re-emergence of performing arts left organizers wanting to use a larger space, where more people could be hosted with a venue big enough to accommodate social distancing.

“This time it has more intense meaning because it’s really coming off a hard Covid situation,” said Jan Harkness, director of MCDT. “We’re ecstatic to get these children back in a place they love.”

Harkness explained having the event inside the fairgrounds’ Pavilion Building would allow to have multiple genres featured in front of a larger audience, rather than breaking out groups over the course of days before a much more closed audience.

With a decision pending on the December 2021 performance of “The Nutcracker” by MCDT, Harkness said there is a chance organizers might be ready to announce which dancer has been chosen to perform the role of Clara for the winter production. She said that is normally something that happens during the Summer Gala.

Saturday’s fundraiser will be the first time MCDT students have had a performance since the December 2019 production of “Nutcracker.” Funds raised by the foundation go toward scholarships, production opportunities and cultural enrichment.

Tickets for “A Toast to Dance” have sold out as of Wednesday, MCDT announced.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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