Thursday, 24 May 2018 11:04

Dancers preparing for May 25 showcase performances after a successful year

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The Dance Studio students practice a jazz dance during a class. The Dance Studio students practice a jazz dance during a class.

The Dance Studio students in Swift Current will conclude a season of intense training and competition with two events to showcase their talents to family and friends.


“This has been a really good year,” said studio owner and instructor Melissa Wallace. “There’s been a lot of camaraderie between kids and lots of great focus from all the different age groups, even the little dancers. They come in and they get warmed up and practice and are ready and excited for their classes, and that’s happening all the way up to the oldest dancers.”
The first of two performances will be the solo and duo showcase at All Saints Catholic School on May 25. The performance starts at 7:15 p.m. and tickets are $5 at the door.
Donations will be accepted for a local dancer, Amisha Hockridge, for her upcoming surgeries and her story of perseverance in dealing with a rare medical condition will be shared at this showcase.
She dances with Backstage Dance Co. in Swift Current, but the different studios and dancers form a close-knit community. The Dance Studio therefore decided to support a fellow dancer.
“She has been through quite a bit and has had a lot of surgeries and has more coming up,” Wallace said. “She’s a dancer and she loves to dance, and it will be nice if we could do something as a dance community to help support her.”
The Dance Studio will still accept donations for Hockridge after the May 25 showcase.
The studio’s second performance will be the 10th annual A Touch of Class dance recital at the Living Sky Casino event centre on June 2. There will be a matinee performance at 1 p.m. and an evening performance at 6 p.m. Tickets are available at Pharmasave at $15 for adults and $12 for seniors (60+) and children (age 3-12).
“The recital is our final event for the season,” Wallace noted. “That’s when everybody gets dressed up and they perform and they work really hard, but they also have a lot of fun and get to have that final showing of their dances.”
The presentation of the group dances and the solo and duo dances are split because there are simply too many dances to perform at a single event.
“In the recital we have 27 different group dances, which ends up being approximately two hours long when you add in intermission and the introduction by the emcee,” she explained. “That’s a good length for a show. I also want the soloists and duo partners to be able to show off what they’ve been working on really hard as well. This year we had approximately 20 soloists and duos that competed.”
These performances are a highlight for both students and their families, who are able to see the results of a year of training and preparation.
“There are several times during the year when parents are able to come in and observe classes,” she said. “This year we also invited parents to come in and take some classes alongside their dancers to get a feel for what the students are working on, but this is a good chance for family who doesn’t live in town or for friends and teachers and everybody else that the students know to come and watch them and to see what they’ve actually being working on.”
This was the first year that parents were invited to take some classes with the students and it went really well.
“They were just really into it and really great about getting up and dancing alongside their dancers,” she said. “The parents were working just as hard as the students and they learned a lot. It helped them to get another perspective on what the students are working on to better help them practice at home.”
The studio has about 125 dancers this year, which is similar to previous years. The number of dancers will vary from year to year based on age group and the level of interest in different dance styles. Dancing activities start in September and continue until June.
“When we get into class in September, they start learning and reviewing the technique and the different vocabulary that they need for the year, which all builds up towards exams as well competition and recital,” she said. “What they do on stage is directly related to what they’ve put into their exams. So we focus on learning all that exam work in the fall.”
There were three sets of exams on November and the rest of the exams were done in February. In the meantime, the students also started to learn their choreography and dances for competitions, which started in March.
The Dance Studio had good results from the different exams. One student passed the Royal Academy of Dance ballet exam, 58 students successfully completed the Canadian Dance Teachers’ Association ballet exams, 36 students passed the Associated Dance Arts for Professional Teachers tap and jazz exams, 29 students were successful in their Scottish Dance Teachers’ Alliance Highland exams, and five students passed the Canadian Dance Teachers’ Association tap and jazz exams.
The Dance Studio participated in three different competitions in Leader, Kindersley and Yorkton, and Wallace feels happy with the results.
“They were really good this year,” she said. “The kids all worked great on their own on their solos and duos, and they worked really well in their teams, which is something people don’t often think about with dancing. You’re individual for exams and any solos and stuff, and then you also have to be able to work as a team and there is a lot of good teamwork. I think the dancers all danced really well and they danced stronger at each competition we went to and their hard work was rewarded.”
Fourteen-year-old Brianna Dash received a scholarship at the Kindersley competition to study at Be Discovered in Los Angeles this summer.
“It was kind of crazy,” she said. “I never would have expected that. I didn’t even know there was a possibility at the competition to win that. We’ll get to study different types of dances. It’s mainly focused on performing in music videos and learning the ways of a professional dancer.”
Her goal this year was to improve her confidence as a dancer by doing a solo performance on stage. In Yorkton she received the award for most promising soloist age 14-15 with a scholarship to attend the To The Pointe summer intensive in Calgary, where the focus will be on ballet training.
She has been dancing since the age of four. Her main interest is in ballet and the lyrical style of dance, which is a combination of ballet and jazz dance techniques.
“I keep going because there’s always room to improve,” she said. “You’re never just there. There’s always more corrections that you can apply.”
Students received numerous medals and awards at each competition. Amara Gatzke received an award for most promising solo age 12 and under at the Leader Dance Fusion (March 2-4).
Two groups won high mark overall awards and one group won the studio stand out award at the Kindersley Konnection (March 23-25). Sophie Regier received an award for high mark overall for a solo dance age 12 and under.
Wallace received a choreography award for an acro group dance at the Kindersley competition and at the Parkland Dance Festival in Yorkton (April 20-22) she won three choreography awards for group dances in tap, pointe and African jazz. Nine groups won most outstanding, most promising, most entertaining and high overall mark award at the Yorkton competition.
The Dance Studio will be hosting various dance classes for different age groups during the summer. The 11th annual summer dance school takes place from July 9-12, an August summer school is scheduled for Aug. 7-10, and there will adult cardio classes or stretch classes.
“We’ve been doing an adult ballet class for a few months,” she said. “It’s going really well and I’d like to keep some of that going as well.”
For more information about these classes, visit The Dance Studio of Swift Current Facebook page or contact Wallace by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Matthew Liebenberg

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