Apple Tree Arts brings 8&1 Dance Company East to the Grafton Great Hall


Apple Tree Arts brings 8&1 Dance Company East to the Grafton Great Hall
Jill S. Rucci

Grafton – Apple Tree Arts presents 8&1 Dance Company East’s magical holiday show “In the Spirit: A Holiday Celebration” Friday, Dec. 13, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 14, at 1:30 and 7 p.m. in the Great Hall, One Grafton Common.

“The show is a warm-hearted, entertaining production about the magic of Christmas and the holidays seen through the eyes of a child as she experiences the joys of the season,” choreographer and director

Jill S. Rucci explained. “The holidays are a very busy time and sometimes we forget the true importance of Christmas, family, friends and loved ones.”

With a little help from the young girl’s kindred spirit, Santa’s magic helpers and the elf on the shelf and other fantasy moments the child finds herself in the spirit and is thankful for all she has.

“There’s an overture of different Christmas songs but no spoken word. The dancing is mostly jazz, very upbeat and passionate, all of my choreography is genuine and sincere,” Rucci said.

Rucci is the founder, choreographer and director of 8&1 Dance Company Dallas, a professional dance company she started in 2011. A chance meeting this summer at One Grafton Common led her to Donna Blanchard, executive director of Apple Tree Arts. They soon learned the two had a lot in common. Rucci’s brother, a graphic designer, had created the logo for the community music and theatre arts school many years ago. Rucci grew up in the nearby town of Sutton and recently moved back east to southern Rhode Island. Now, her focus is 8&1 Dance Company East, a professional troupe.

“It was a pleasure to meet Jill and learn about her successful dynamic dance company in Dallas,” said

Blanchard. “She was so enthusiastic and excited about establishing a new troupe that once Jill walked into the Great Hall, she immediately knew she wanted to present the dance company’s annual holiday show on our stage.”

8&1 Dallas is finishing up their eighth season while the newly established 8&1 East is beginning its first season.

“We have announced our second audition for professional dancers in January, hosting master classes and gearing up to launch the company officially in 2020,” Rucci said. “Since we rent out rehearsal space and bring dance programs to many performance venues, we are flexible and will produce shows in different areas.”

Rucci’s East coast roots go back to her grandfather Cristino Anthony Rucci who owned a boxing gym on Exchange Street in Worcester. In his honor, she created “Exchange Street” a full-length dance drama which included video scenes of Worcester.

Tickets for the holiday show are $25.50 for adults and $16.50 for seniors and children 12 and younger and include light refreshments. Visit to purchase tickets.

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