At the moment a falling tree snapped a power line and cut lights from Molly’s Reach to Gambier Island, senior members of the Gibsons Dance Centre were performing a piece titled Rooted.
The 25 dancers on stage remained in motion, silhouetted in the glow of emergency bulbs. With the musical accompaniment silenced, audience members spontaneously clapped their hands to mark time.
The dancers completed the number, choreographed by jazz division instructor Marcel Tremel, to thunderous applause.
Volunteers led spectators on an orderly exodus into the parking lot. Parents cached cellophane-wrapped bouquets in the cool of their cars. Flowery plaudits had to wait until the darkness lifted.
Electricity restored, the show resumed one hour later.
The matinee recital on June 3 was one of four held last weekend at the Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons to showcase performances by the studio’s corps of 300 dancers.
“There’s always a plan,” said Zoe Barbaro, assistant director of the Gibsons Dance Centre. “They’re taught to just keep doing what they’re doing until everyone knows to stop and then wait for instruction. Because in show business, things happen and you have to know what to do.”
The outage followed a similar incident in April at The One Dance Experience, a competition held in Abbotsford. A Gibsons ensemble was performing when the music stopped. The group finished their number without interruption and earned a place in the honours performance.
Last weekend’s two-hour showcase, titled Elements, featured a dynamic lineup of dances in ballet, modern, tap, hip hop and jazz styles.
“The title came about because Miss Dominique [Hutchinson, one of the studio’s instructors and assistant director] had this magical feeling of bringing all the different elements together in one place,” explained Barbaro. The show opened with a sylvan ballet set to the music of Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”).
The ethereal fantasy culminated in appearances by Eibhlin Minatsis and Connor Dixon as the elven queen and king. Minatsis and Dixon, along with Caia Minatsis, Peter Reznick and Ella Hoath returned from the Provincial Festival of Performing Arts in Penticton only one day before the showcase opener.
The remainder of the program was organized according to the four natural elements. High-flying acrobatics on aerial silks paid homage to the air. A musical theatre number, Don’t Rain on My Parade, featured an ensemble clad in bright yellow slickers and miniature umbrellas.
Ballet solos by Minatsis and Anna Reznick complemented the themes of water and fire respectively, while a globetrotting hip hop number by Emmy Knowles and Tala Swaffield paid tribute to the earth. Three duos were reprised from recent competitions: Elizabeth Mani and Johnathan Lowis Holliday performed their tap stunner Dr. Bones, Minatsis and Dixon retread the lyricism of Solid Ground, and Tlell Purjue and Taya Bruce elicited admiring laughter with a tribute to musical theatre from the meta-musical Something Rotten.
“It’s always notable to see the growth in the kids,” said Barbaro, “and just watching them reach new milestones in their life makes me proud, as they pursue their passion.”
The showcase concluded with a superlative rendition of The Greatest Show (from the 2017 film starring Hugh Jackman) fit for P. T. Barnum’s big top. “The only thing it’s missing now,” mused studio artistic director Penny-Lea Hudson, “is firing [company member] Peter Reznick out of a cannon.”
The youth company appears four more times from June 9 to 11, with the studio’s adult show taking place at 8 p.m. on June 11. Details and ticket information are available at gibsonsdance.com.