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Poise and power at dance season closers on the Sunshine Coast

In a weekend permeated with local dance performances, Sechelt’s Coast Academy of Dance concluded its exuberant year-end revue with onstage fireworks — literally.
Members of the youth company from Sechelt’s Coast Academy of Dance perform for a capacity audience on June 8.

In a weekend permeated with local dance performances, Sechelt’s Coast Academy of Dance concluded its exuberant year-end revue with onstage fireworks — literally.  

After the 13 camo-clad performers of the studio’s Diamond Hip Hop corps pumped their fists in triumph to end Let’s Get Down (choreographed by Helen Dang), the stage filled with scores of dancers for a rock ‘n’ roll curtain call. On cue, fountains of sparks exploded from both sides of the Raven’s Cry Theatre. When the main drape closed, an exultant cheer arose from the company of more than 100 artists. 

Tickets to the studio’s four shows on June 8 and 9 were completely subscribed a month in advance. The program — titled The Old & The New — fused crowd-pleasing group numbers reflecting a century of dance traditions with emotion-laden lyricism of veteran performers. 

Four graduating dancers performed spotlight solos: Makenzi Harris, Tessa Rowland, Andrea Villanueva, and Mya Perry. Villanueva and Perry have also served as instructors among the studio’s 11-member faculty. Four other teachers are departing: Alyssa Rive, Brontë Hansen, Helen Dang and Terra Dannes. 

The show included the ensemble’s high-caliber tribute to the musical Chicago, with dancers adorned in swaying flapper dresses and crowned with feathered tiaras. Eras and genres transitioned at a breakneck pace: 1920s Chicago gave way to a dozen pie-wielding, pastel-uniformed servers in a number inspired by 2016’s Broadway musical Waitress. 

Fluid stage management allowed one group of dancers to depart the stage as the next performers entered. Irving Berlin’s Puttin’ on the Ritz was updated to include a driving techno beat, a modern counterpoint to its polka dot dresses and a bow-tied soloist.  

Peeping from the wings, a dancer draped in gingham readied for a nostalgia-rich performance of Road to Avonlea. She watched and mouthed the words to the preceding number: a sassy jazz piece titled Slay that would leave even Marilla Cuthbert speechless. In the lyrical act Surrender, its dozen dancers exhaled in unison, providing human-powered percussion to the recorded track. 

The studio’s adult dancers also offered euphoric performances in hip hop, jazz and contemporary numbers. For When the Last Time, the ensemble appeared outfitted in 1990s-era apparel with blue and yellow highlights, complete with a vintage Canucks sweatshirt and a cross-cultural tribute to a rap icon (“Keep Calm and Hammer On”). One More Day highlighted graduates of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing program and included gravity-defying acrobatics and synchronized cartwheels effected in mid-air. 

Meanwhile, the junior company of the Gibsons Dance Centre played to four capacity audiences at the Heritage Playhouse on June 8 and 9. Its recital included fledgling ballet dancers performing an homage to Mary Poppins and young hip hop artists who defied traditional gangsta stereotypes by dancing in heart-adorned pink leotards. 

Newcomer Wyatt Blake joined instructor Gabriel Ditmars for a heartwarming tap duet titled Steal the Show. Another duo, Good Day Sunshine featuring preschoolers Wendy Fiedler and Hugo Sala who showed off the studio’s deft acrobatic chops. 

More dance performances are scheduled in Gibsons and Sechelt this weekend, as Waldorf Ballet performs its story ballet A Bird’s Tale on June 14 and 15, and the Gibsons Dance Centre presents its senior recital from June 13 to 16. Tickets for the former are available at, and the latter at