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Coast Academy of Dance dancers conclude challenging year with Celebration

The three-hour Celebration show reprised acts that netted the Sechelt-based dance school honours during festivals earlier this year.  
A. Coast Dance Academy - Gabrielle Deshamais, Peyton Gray, Katie Stewart, Mya Tosczak and Mayan Uppal dance the Rodeo Hoedown (credit Michael Gurney)
Coast Dance Academy’s Gabrielle Deshamais, Peyton Gray, Katie Stewart, Mya Tosczak and Mayan Uppal dance the Rodeo Hoedown.

The Coast Academy of Dance marked three decades of instruction and celebrated the culmination of its 2022-2023 season with three performances by its well-decorated company of dancers at the Raven’s Cry Theatre in Sechelt on June 11 and 12. 

The three-hour Celebration show reprised acts that netted the Sechelt-based dance school honours during festivals earlier this year.  

In April the effervescent Another Day of Sun, choreographed by Brontë Hansen, won the Overall Group Award at the Coastal Dance Festival in the Pre-Competitive Stage category.  

The company’s explosive rendition of We Both Reached for the Gun, choreographed by the academy’s managing director Christina Darwin, earned the equivalent award in the Elite–Stage category of the Coastal Festival. Its reappearance at the Raven’s Cry Theatre elicited hollers and cheers from the boisterous audiences. 

Studio owner Julie Izad took a hands-on approach in preparation for the fast-paced showcase of 46 distinct dances: she worked alongside Shirley Jackson and Adji to costume the scores of dancers.  

In the darkness before the beginning of What Could Of Been — a large-group performance in the Modern genre — , the silence was broken by a young audience member. “I see sparkly people,” she piped. As the stage lights were raised, a stageful of sequins reflected her perception. 

Some of the school’s youngest dancers took their turn in the spotlight, both in traditional disciplines and more contemporary forms. The Spring & Summer Fairies featured Primary, Grade 1 and Grade 2 ballet dancers clad in alternating blue and white costumes. In Party Rockers, members of the Kids Hip Hop ensemble, wearing multicoloured hats, filled the stage with rambunctious displays of synchronized athleticism. 

Many of the large group numbers — like the Brontë Hansen-choreographed tap spectacular Better When I’m Dancing featured two classes of dancers that alternated their appearances onstage before uniting for a massed conclusion. 

Six young graduates from the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing — Izabella Biddulph, Megan Doyle, Alison Girard, Carly Kennedy, Kelly Lu and Francesca Manson–performed a farewell to the academy in the poignant Ne Me Quitte Pas, which included uplifted dancers tumbling gently into the outstretched arms of their classmates. 

Instructors Shirley Jackson and Becky Izad are departing the school’s faculty as well. The choreography they developed (notably Jackson’s Rodeo Hoedown, performed by the Grade 5 Ballet ensemble and Izad’s Genius, a sassy jazz sequence by the Intermediate Competitive ensemble) were a study in contrasting styles, enchanting and stoking the crowds by turns. 

The Adult Competitive and Hip Hop Crews made a couple of appearances, navigating onstage costume changes and King of Pop-style moves in numbers like Whoose Bad. The crowd response to the hip hop act Low (choreographed by Helen Dang) was so emphatic that dancers in the following number, Friends, were already onstage before the adults had finished collecting their plaudits. 

The Coast Academy will be offering summer camps through July and August before registration for the 2022-2023 dance season opens in mid-August. 

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