While shoppers expect to see animatronic holiday displays in storefront windows this time of year, they probably don't expect to see flesh and blood ballerinas performing pirouettes and plies.
But that is exactly what folks strolling along in downtown Lombard experienced Saturday afternoon courtesy of students from the Dance Center, who performed snippets of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" at six downtown businesses as part of the village's annual Jinglebell Jubilee sponsored by Lombard Town Centre.
The performances mark the first time the dancers have participated in this way, says studio owner Penny Bovelli, whose dance school has been a Lombard fixture for 28 years. And it likely won't be the last judging from the response of passers-by, which included toddlers seemingly enchanted by the exotically costumed dancers who smiled and waved at the people congregating outside the shops along St. Charles Road and Park Avenue.
The dancers, who ranged from 9 to 19, were very eager to participate, Bovelli said.
"It's a lot of fun," said Sugar Plum Fairy Emma Hainy, 18, who says she wants to return next year if her college schedule allows.
"I was very excited to do it," said 13-year-old snow dancer Zoe Meadows who danced in the window of the Nolan Agency. The audience response has " been very encouraging," she said.
"The little kids love it," said 18-year-old Kathy Baldyga, a 15-year Dance Center student currently enrolled at College of DuPage who performed the Spanish dance.
They weren't the only ones. Business owners also embraced the idea, said Bovelli, adding that several have approached her about hosting a dancer next year.
Mice and snow plums are about all Night and Day Salon owner Amy Madsen knows of "The Nutcracker," but she welcomed the chance to host Lauren Estes, an 18-year-old Glenbard West High School senior, who performed the Arabian dance.
"People walking by have been stopping and taking pictures," said Madsen, whose 1-year-old son thoroughly enjoyed the show.
Julia Suriano, a 19-year-old College of DuPage student who played the Chinese dancer, said she performed her dance three times for one delighted little girl who refused to leave.
"It's nice to see I brought joy to someone else," said Suriano, a 17-year veteran of the Dance Center.
Zoe Meadows' father Zach Meadows praised Lombard Town Center for the jubilee efforts.
"They are working hard to make Lombard a place where people want to come," he said.