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Adults tap into footloose June on the Sunshine Coast

A month of dance ahead as schools wrap up season
Caitlin Beaupre, Charlie Cottrell, Gabriel Ditmar, Kate Naphtali and Justine Bugayong perform Broke on June 1 at the Heritage Playhouse.

A show by adult dancers from the Sunshine Coast, organized only weeks before its June 1 performance, offered a dizzying display of choreography and musical talent while kicking off a month of dance recitals by local studios. 

The June 1 show, Connections, was performed by adult dancers affiliated with the Gibsons Dance Centre at the Heritage Playhouse. It also featured singer-songwriter Levi Purjue, who accompanied himself on the guitar while backed by projections of his own artwork.  

Purjue, whose cultural heritage stems from the Tahltan Nation of Telegraph Creek and the Shoshone people of Nevada, is the resident artist at the Silver Moon Gallery in Gibsons. 

Andreanna Pelehos, who earlier that night danced in a stirring group tap rendition of Dancing Cheek to Cheek, sang while accompanied by Chris Donnahee on guitar. 

Tap dominated the lineup, as Gabriel Leonard Ditmars performed an improvised solo (beaming all the way through On the Sunny Side of the Street), followed by the high-spirited nostalgia of Twistin’ the Night Away, danced by Caitlin Beaupre, Justine Bugayong, Kate Naphtali, Jamie Stones, Charlie Cottrell and Ditmars. Both the ensemble and Ditmars returned for follow-up tap acts, including a flannel- and denim-infused urban spectacular titled Broke. 

Two adult companies combined for an ethereal lyrical piece titled Not About Angels. The adult ballet corps, redolent of sunbeams in motion, performed the lighter-than-air Yellow. 

“By featuring adult dancers, we give them a chance to express their love of choreography and creativity,” said Zoe Barbaro, artistic director of the Gibsons Dance Centre. “It demonstrates the importance of lifelong learning. It also inspires the next generation of artists, since so many of their dance students attend the show to see their instructors in action.” 

Jamie Stones and Emily Sherwood, both teachers at Gibsons Dance Centre, performed an emotion-packed contemporary duo, Landslide. Each also danced solo numbers in radically divergent genres: Stones in the gossamer-tinged meditation When the Party’s Over and mesmerizing I Put a Spell on You, and Sherwood in an unapologetically brash hip hop tour de force, Baby Got Brap. The packed audience, which included many of their young pupils, shouted their names in approval. 

Soloist Jessie Zentner, the studio’s contemporary and pilates instructor, performed two solo numbers, both self-choreographed. Francesca Chiara Ryan, who one year ago danced alongside her son in a revue on the same stage, also presented an original solo titled Home. 

The adult show leads a month packed with Sunshine Coast dance performances. Sechelt’s Coast Academy of Dance and Performing Arts will present two performances at the Raven’s Cry Theatre on June 8 and 9. Both are completely sold out. 

Waldorf Ballet of Sechelt, known for its lavish year-end productions, will mount A Bird’s Tale over three performances on June 14 and 15. The show, also staged at the Raven’s Cry, will debut an original fairy tale through high-flying dance. 

Meanwhile, the Gibsons Dance Centre has scheduled two weekends at the Heritage Playhouse for junior and senior studio recitals. The theme for both shows (three performances of the junior company on June 8 and 9; six performances by senior dancers from June 13 to 16) is Colours. Its chromatic trajectory will include a condensed rendition of the 19th-century ballet Coppélia, choreographed by Dominique Hutchinson. 

Last week, dancers and musicians from the Sunshine Coast traveled to Fort St. John for the annual Provincial Festival. Finalists performed in the Provincial Excellence Concert on June 6 at the North Peace Cultural Centre Theatre, and will be identified in an upcoming issue of the Coast Reporter. 

Event listings and ticket sales for all dance performances are online via,, and