"Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum" is a Denver holiday tradition, developed and performed by Cleo Parker Robinson Dance.
"It's 32 years later, and it's still as important to me as the first day we did it," said Cleo Parker Robinson, founder of the dance company.
From the very first West African Fanga (Welcome) dance, "Granny Dances a Holiday Drum" is an exploration of cultural dance from around the world.
"There's a lot of history there because we're telling the story of all the places we've been around the world, so it's really our journey," Parker Robinson explained.
The journey follows Granny who is trying to pass her stories on to her grandchildren. Melvin Sutton dances the role of TiSean.
"He is the grandson of Granny, and he has a little sister, Nakia, and so his role and Nakia's role is to pretty much help Granny remember all of the dances," Sutton told CBS News Colorado.
Parker Robinson dances the part of Shakti.
"There are three angels of the rainbow, and I'm the guardian angel of Granny, so I just help her remember," she said.
As Granny remembers, the story transitions to a magical island.
"And now, we're actually on this journey with Granny, and we're going to Africa where we start," Sutton added.
"It was based upon the drum and the spirit of the drum, and the drum that is our heart beat that connects us all," Parker Robinson said.
The choreography is a mix of hip hop, tap, jazz, modern, ballet with a little bit of salsa. It's a showcase of the entire Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Company.
"I get to see the kids in the academy dance and see them live their best life on stage," Sutton described as one of his joys with the show.
Sutton also gets to stretch his skills, and bring a message of unity to audiences.
"I really hope that the audience takes away that one that within the holidays we're all surrounded with love, joy, peace, and happiness. And, secondly, I want them to leave Cleo's with the Cleo spirit – we're dancing," Sutton said.
That same "Cleo spirit" that has been woven into "Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum" over the course of decades.
"Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum" runs through December 17, 2023 at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre.
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