It’s safe to say Debbie Allen‘s latest projects, Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square and Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, are helping to usher in the holiday season. 

In Christmas on the Square, Allen took on directing and choreography duties for her longtime friend Dolly Parton, whom she says is known for her “legendary Christmas parties.” 

“In the middle of hot California, there was snow, there’d be reindeers, there’d be a gospel choir and food, food, food, food,” Allen tells ABC Audio. “So I’ve adored her for a long time.” 

Allen explains that the idea for the musical actually came from Dolly’s producing partner, Sam Haskell. “[He] shared with me the music. And so I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it. But it was tough…it was really a labor of love for me.”

While Allen admits she had to rearrange her schedule to do the project, the Emmy winner says she didn’t have to do much when it came to Shonda Rhimes‘ Dance Dreams, which followed her own dance studio, Debbie Allen’s Dance Academy.

“[Shonda] actually had a young daughter in my academy,” Allen reveals. “But what her daughter was getting, she loved it so much.  The life lessons that come along with the training in the arts is beyond what I can express to you.”

Allen says those “life lessons” are what led to another parent deciding to capture some “candid behind the scenes” video of her academy. 

“And so Shonda saw it and says, ‘Debbie, I’m going to do something with this.’ I’m like, “Okay queen, you can have it. I’m going to follow your lead.’

“So, here we are… I feel like I’m one of Netflix’s poster children for Christmas,” Allen jokes. 

Christmas on the Square is now available; Dance Dreams launches on Friday.

By Candice Williams
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