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Gibsons dancers reach for new heights

The Gibsons Dance Centre on March 9 presented back-to-back showcases of competitive choreography that will soon be onstage at a trio of upcoming festivals throughout southwest B.C.
Meg Greenfield (left) and Caia Minatsis appear in a routine titled Covering during the Gibsons Dance Centre showcase on March 9.

The Gibsons Dance Centre on March 9 presented back-to-back showcases of competitive choreography that will soon be onstage at a trio of upcoming festivals throughout southwest B.C. 

The pair of high-adrenaline performances at the Heritage Playhouse featured an extensive range of dance genres, beginning with eight ballet artists performing the Waltz of the Hours (featuring music by Italian opera composer Amilcare Ponchielli) and concluding with many of the same dancers in a jazz-infused homage to the circus, complete with acrobatic lifts and dizzying pirouettes. 

“It’s neat to see the next generation of dancers leveling up,” said Zoe Barbaro, the studio’s artistic director. “Each year you have students who have moved on and it’s neat to see their interactions with the [younger] kids. They’re always supporting their friends from wherever they are in the world, pursuing whatever they’re pursuing.” 

The show placed particular emphasis on duets. Barbaro herself choreographed Where’s My Love, featuring Annabelle Urban and Isabella Watts in an emotional display of mirrored synchronicity. The hip hop duo of Adrina Peever and Tlell Purjue performed with rapid-fire athleticism in Big Dreamz, set to movement by Kenneth Bulao. Purjue re-appeared minutes later in a musical theatre act alongside Taya Bruce, its choreography created by Shantaya Cottrell. Purjue and Bruce depicted Ethel Mertz and Lucy Ricardo of the 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy, clad in bouffant wigs and engaged in comic one-upmanship. 

The contemporary number Covering featured Caia Minatsis and Meg Greenfield and displayed a recurring move: a light touch to the small of the back, conveying moral support amid a series of impossibly arched poses and airborne cartwheels. Peter Reznick and Connor Dixon appeared in I Lost a Friend, incorporating roundhouse kicks and ballet lifts familiar to viewers of the company’s popular Nutcracker. (The Mirliton trio by Ella Hoath, Isla Stamford and Reznick offered a reprise of the company’s holiday offering.) 

In Human, Annabelle Autry and Nevaeh Power provided a meditation on companionship that served as a counterpoint to a later appearance by Kaylee Meadowcroft and Lynden Stark in Two. 

Following its recent competition wins at the Festival du Ballet in Surrey and the Chilliwack Music and Dance Festival, the Gibsons Dance Centre corps will participate in the Star Talent competition in Langley, the Coastal Dance Festival in Sechelt, and the One Dance Experience in Burnaby. 

The Gibsons Dance Centre’s absorption with the anthemic landscape of the big top found expression in group numbers like Symphonic: Dixon strutted in a ringmaster’s crimson overcoat among 15 female dancers, moving with focused determination to a dubstep Lacrimosa from Mozart’s Requiem. The acrobatics of Carousel culminated in simultaneous handstands and splits, Cirque du Soleil-style extravagance delivered with studied deliberation. 

A competitive hip hop number (Get Like Me) featuring Darrow Purjue, Henrik Cottrell, Madison McLeod and Nicolas Lekakis demonstrated dextrous compression of time and motion. The foursome’s attitude-drenched charisma contrasted with its sequel: a haunting and gravity-defying testament to the surging seas titled Back to the Shore. 

The Gibsons Dance Centre will present its year-end show, Colours, on June 14 to 16 and 21 to 23 at the Heritage Playhouse.