A band of 21 Sooke Dance Studio-based dancers — known as the Performance Company and Hip Hop Crew — have wooed the public in schools, the streets, senior centres, sports centres and everywhere else in between.
Now, they plan to take their moves into a bigger, brighter spotlight.
The young dancers, aged between nine and 20 years old, were chosen to travel to Disneyland in Anaheim Calif., on March 21 to attend and perform at the Disney Dance 101 workshop, where they will train with Disney’s own dancing elite ensemble of directors and choreographers.
The 90-minute, high-energy workshop will give the dancers an opportunity to learn a Disney production number, followed by valuable advice from the pros on how each dancer’s individual contribution leads a team to work in mesmerizing unison.
This is something which Jessica Rempel, one of the attending Sooke dancers, is beyond excited about.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something like this and to take part in such a cool workshop,” she said.
Rempel is one of many who will help bring to life the group’s piece de resistance, the grand Decades of Dance finale, in which each team will “roll through the decades” through dance, starting with a 1920s tap number, all the way to the present’s “whip and nay nay” dance scene.
In essence, it’s the final piece that will pull all 21 dancers onto the stage, starting with the 1920s flappers doing a tap number with tap shoes, then it goes through to the 1950s with the poodle skirts, then the 1970s with the afro wigs and psychedelic pants, and on through the 1990s, to now, where all 21 dancers on stage together to do a really current and fast number to close the show.
All in half an hour, giving dancers just one minute to change costumes and move onto the next number.
And practice makes perfect, after all. Both teams are busy rehearsing numbers in styles of hip hop, jazz, and dance theatre.
Taking on such an exciting and bold endeavour is not only a dream for the dancers, many of whom never left the Island, let alone the country, but also for Sooke Dance Studio founder Carole Cave, who has dedicated her life as a local dance instructor for the last 25 years.
“It’s not just a performance, it’s a learning opportunity and a dance experience to grow as a dancer,” Cave said, adding this is the first time ever that Sooke Dance Studio dancers travel abroad, as their usual performance grounds are in Sooke, as well as the Greater Victoria Area.
The opportunity also comes after years of trying to recover from a fire that destroyed the old Dance Studio and finding another, something which Cave points out is a welcome outcome.
“That’s why this feels so good, it’s because we finally have a home, and we’re back to growing again, instead of being set back after the fire,” she said, adding that the main reason why she hung on to the dance dream is because there is a need in Sooke for a dance studio where travelling into Victoria is not necessary.
The dancers still have a long way to go though, and travel expenses are yet to be covered, which is why the Studio has set up a gofundme initiative to raise money to make it happen.
“It was kind of up to them [the dancers] to figure out who would make the financial and time commitment to go,” Cave said, adding that participation in the event wasn’t open to the whole studio, just the performance-geared classes.
Just to qualify, the studio had to supply an audition video of three numbers the dancers had done within a year, as well as photos that showed their costumes.
And it’s a performance, not a competition, as there’s no judging — it’s solely a learning experience, the same mantra the studio has maintained since its inception.
“Even in the dance studio at home, there’s no such thing as being better or worse, as everyone learns, trains and performs at the same level,” Cave said.
And they won’t just be performing the numbers before a Disney audience, but for the local public as well.
On Dec. 17, the Crew and Company will perform a rehearsal of their numbers at the Sooke Baptist Church, accompanied by performances at all the local schools in March, April and May, as well as Ayre Manor, senior centres and the Rotary’s spring auction event, to name just a few.
The Sooke Dance Studio has been running Performance Company class performances in the community for the last six years.