Youthful dancers of the Coast's DSdanse company are looking forward to a huge and exciting opportunity next year.
They have been invited to go to Belgium on a student exchange in August 2015. A Belgian dance company, Cie Ph/f/ase, with dancers aged 12 to 16, will visit the Coast in return that same summer. It's a timely visit, since the Belgians will be honouring the 100th anniversary of the First World War next year in their country, and Canada had a significant role in that war.
Because 24 dancers, juniors and seniors from ages 10 to 18, want to go on the trip, raising funds for airfare and ground transportation has become a necessary project. The dancers' accommodation will be covered - they are excited to be staying in homes and meeting other Belgians.
DSdanse offers all genres of dance: classical ballet, modern jazz, contemporary tap and acrobatics, under the artistic direction of Dominique Hutchinson, and they will perform on April 11 and 12 at the Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons. Ticket sales will help with raising funds and the performance will also raise the profile of the newly formed Sunshine Coast Youth Dance Association (SCYDA), a society that will help them on their way.
SCYDA's director and the mother of a young dancer, Noni Weitz, said the society was formed to offer students more opportunities to dance than the usual once a year recital. This cultural exchange in Belgium fits the bill.
"After more experience in different places, I could see how confident they had become," Weitz said.
While the junior students have grown in abilities, the senior students have also had a chance to build their own dances and learn choreography.
This year and last the group performed in Burnaby at the Shadbolt Centre for the Performing Arts on a much larger stage with real theatre production values and along with the collegial company of the Youth in Motion dancers.
"It inspired them to take it to another level," Weitz said.
Not all of them will go on to a career in dance, but Weitz notes that, "they'll always have dance in their lives."
In 2015 the Belgians will commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the second battle of Ypres that marked the Canadian soldiers' major engagement in the war. They paid a high price in loss of life: 6,000 casualties over four days.
Every night at 8 p.m. a moving ceremony remembering the battle will take place under the Menin Gate at Ieper-Ypres. The students will study this piece of history and will choreograph a memorial dance. They will also join with the Belgian dancers to perform in neighbouring communities, and organizers have planned field trips to Flanders and other Canadian memorial sites.
See DSdanse at the Heritage Playhouse, Gibsons, in two performances, Friday, April 11 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, April 12 at 2 p.m. Tickets for $15 are available at Gaia's Fair Trade in Lower Gibsons and Laedeli at Sunnycrest Mall.
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