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Student choreographers in limelight at dance showcase

Youth dominate sneak peak performance
Dancers Annika Bergman, Taylor Bramham, Brontë Coyle, Lorelle Evered, Makenzi Harris, Clover McGeachy, Tessa Rowland and Andrea Villanueva perform Passage, choreographed by Coast Academy of Dance instructor Brontë Hansen.

Two performances by the on March 4 highlighted original work by student choreographers and previewed acts that will be performed at Lower Mainland competitions this spring. 

The Sneak Peak showcase, staged at the Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons, included 30 performances by the Sechelt-based studio’s competitive team and company dancers. 

“It’s been such an amazing experience,”said Tessa Rowland, who choreographed dancers Lorelle Evered and Andrea Villanueva in a number titled Control. “This is my first time ever doing major choreography on other people, and it’s just amazing to watch them go out into the studio and dance this piece that you come up with on your own.” 

Rowland has been dancing competitively since kindergarten and is currently in Grade 11 at Chatelech Secondary School. She is also in the second year of a three-year associate’s dance instruction program. Following an exam at its conclusion, she will become a certified dance teacher. 

As an experienced dancer, Rowland mapped the moves for Control by herself before modelling them for Evered and Villanueva. The duo employed high-flying leaps, handstands and synchronized falls to convey the part that friendship plays in countermanding feelings of being overwhelmed. 

Evered, a Grade 12 student who will be completing her associate’s exam in April, herself choreographed a jazz duet titled A Palé. In it, Taylor Bramham and Mya Perry delivered a program that demanded intricate balance and synchronization. The work was a departure for Evered, who is more accustomed to contemporary and lyrical genres. 

“It was definitely a challenge,” said Evered, “but I was very rewarded by how it came out and proud that I challenged myself in that way. With jazz, it’s a lot more technical.” 

Facing the task of plotting two bodies in motion, she enlisted the help of her mother, a non-dancer. With her assistance, Evered was able to experiment with the visual effect of her planned steps. 

“I think we came to the conclusion that it was kind of like [the dancers] were almost fighting with each other,” said Evered. “In all the partner work, one of them is always kind of trying to get away and hitting poses, but they’re working together as well. It’s like friendship, but also like fighting with each other.” 

Company dancer Makenzi Harris, a Grade 11 student who is also enrolled in Coast Academy’s teaching program, choreographed five dancers in Rumors, a dynamic group number that Harris calls “mature jazz.” 

“It was very interesting trying to work on new bodies and see what looks good on a group of people,” Harris said. “I found I didn’t have to be as extravagant with my movements to make the whole group work together. Whereas when it’s just myself then I feel like I have to be doing crazy things because I have to take up the whole stage myself.” 

Complementing the work by student choreographers and dancers, Coast Academy’s seven-member adult competitive crew performed a high-energy hip-hop number. the FUTURE is now required quick costume changes and an inflatable bodysuit worn by crowd favourite Rick Kobus. 

The students’ contemporary, lyrical and jazz performances were rounded out with flamboyant musical theatre selections from Broadway’s The Wiz and Cabaret.  

The youngest competitive dancers at Coast Academy are aged eight years. All seven members of the group’s senior-level Company Program — which includes Evered, Rowland, and Harris — choreographed numbers performed during the March 4 show. 

The Coast Academy of Dance and Performing Arts regularly provides updates on competition achievements via its Instagram account: @coast_academy_dance.