BY TARA McCARTHY

The chatter of young voices accompanies the patter of feet adorned with black jazz shoes. Then the rehearsal studio falls silent before an upbeat music beat floods the space with energy.

Junior, elementary and adult level dancers are polishing their moves for the big finale – the Northern Lights School of Dance’s year-end performance. The show hits the Yukon Arts Centre stage May 8 to 10.

“This performance shows what our dancers can do,” explains NLSD administrator and instructor Nicolette Little. “It involves everyone from ages 3 and 4 years old, right up to about 50 and 60 years of age.”

Little says dancers enrolled with the school spend about half to three-quarters of the season working on technique. The rest is spent on longer dances and prepping for this recital to show it all off.

NLSD offers a wide range of dance styles and structures and each discipline will be showcased.

The performance features two acts that convey the hard work, talent and dedication of the pupils. The first is a story ballet of Snow White and Rose Red.

“We kind of went back to the Brothers Grimm style, not the Disney version many are familiar with,” Little says. “The older version tends to be a bit darker.”

Little says NLSD’s Dale Cooper teamed with Grant Hartwick to adapt the old fairy tale for the stage. It tells the story of two young girls who befriend a bear and an ungrateful dwarf and get involved in a little magic.

While the year-end performance traditionally makes room for a full-length ballet, the second half of the show is dedicated to a range of other dance forms forShowtime 2008.

Little says this act explores the dancers’ growing talents in the art of modern jazz, hip-hop, street dance, tap and flamenco through about 20 pieces of original choreography.

Hailing from Toronto, Little is the newest member of the NLSD faculty, teaching hip-hop and street jazz (see her story on Page 21).

“When I choreograph I like to build around a story in my head,” she says.

She’s prepared a work titled Indestructible Sam for the show. The street jazz performance is set to the energetic beats of Canadian hip-hop artist Buck 65. It combines the efforts of junior, elementary and adult students in a playfully depicted story.

“It’s a dance about gravediggers who have an awful lot of luck after the Civil War,” Little describes with a laugh. “And they provoke some jealousy from some cowboys.”

She says both acts of the show include a great deal of interesting choreography that really highlight what the dancers have learned, while creating pleasing patterns of movement for the audience.

Not only will Snow White and Rose Red and Showtime 2008 demonstrate what the pupils have accomplished, Little says it’s also the perfect opportunity for parents to see their young performers in action.

As for the graduating dancers, she says it’s only natural that this year-end show acts as a farewell of sorts. But ultimately, Little says it’s also a celebration.

The Northern Lights School of Dance performance of Snow White and Rose Red and Showtime 2008 will be at the Yukon Arts Centre May 8 and 9 (evenings) and May 10 (matinée).