It’s Boys in the Hood and “Singin’ in the Rain” combined with what Nicolette Little describes as a “Sinatra-y feeling.”
Little is an instructor for the Northern Lights School of Dance where she’s teaching her students a fusion of jazz, hip hop and street dance.
Her Jazz & Street Dance class is percolating with isolations (the very technical popping and locking movements of hip hop and street dance) and the sassier elements of jazz.
“Sharpness and smiles,” she reminds her students, smiling herself, as each awakens from a mannequin-like dance pose.
As the music starts, heads begin to bob and ponytails bounce. The energy in the room is electric. It’s uptown, steppin’ out, get-down-tonight music. Fingers snap and toes tap as students’ smiles are reflected from a wall of mirrors and as their teacher counts out the beat, “five, six, se-ven, eight”.
Little, who began ballet at age four, spent 16 years training at the Fleming School of Performing Arts in Oakville, Ontario.
“I didn’t come into my own until I left Oakville,” she says.
Now she’s passionate about jazz.
“Street dance has a little more jazz in it,” she explains, “MTV-style, minus a little dash of jazz.
Little incorporates this blend of jazz and street dance into her classes. The movements are quirky and creative.
“One part of the dance has a Fred Estaire movement.
“I love choreography,” Little says, adding that she saw “an opportunity to work with kids (her ‘bright lights’) who are so happy to be dancing.”
Why should people dance?
Her answer: “To release beauty, release passion and release feeling.
“More importantly and more from my heart,” she confides, “dance saved me in a lot of ways.”
While pushing herself academically at the University of Toronto, Little was also spending 20 hours a week dancing — dancing that lead her to perform in the Toronto L’Oreal Fashion Week in 2007, to assist survivors of Chernobyl by performing in Help us Help the Children and to dance in a Mardis Gras cancer fundraiser. She was also a resort dancer in the Caribbean and performed in an Econoline Crush music video.
Since arriving in Whitehorse in September, Little has been teaching 15 classes a week and is now touring schools with her students.
She believes dance should be recreational. She also believes in the philosophy of the school, a not-for-profit organization that believes that “Every child should be able to dance, if that’s what they want to do.”
And they do, from age three to age 60 at present.
The school is preparing its 2008 grand finale, which will showcase ballet, jazz, hip hop, tap and pop jazz (the school’s name for street dance).
The still-to-be-named dance extravaganza will open on a Snow White and Rose Red theme from May 8 to 10, at 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday evening and in a matinée performance on Saturday afternoon at the Yukon Arts Centre.