Has it been a year already?
It seems like only a few weeks ago the dancers at Northern Lights School of Dance (NLSD) were filling the hallway of their studio, bringing with them dance bags, parents and piles of outdoor shoes.
The scenario is the same and the air is vibrating with the hum of whispers, giggles and even a few tears as the ballet dancers (age three to 18) await their musical cues, dance instructions and stage directions.
This year’s story ballet is Cinderella. Artistic director, Deborah Lemaire, shoulders most of the responsibility for the production, but does rely on the support of her dance teachers and assistant artistic director to help with the choreography.
Sometimes putting the year–end ballet together feels like an overwhelming task. Many of the dancers, especially the older ones, have so many other activities and commitments at this time of year.
It does come together however, and it is the smiles from accomplishment that keep the dancers coming back each year for the challenge of each new and exciting experience.
When asked how the story ballet was chosen this year, Lemaire explains, “When we choose our year-end ballet, we look for something that is really accessible to our dancers as well as our viewing audience.
“Cinderella, I think, is one of the best known and loved fairy tales. It appeals to young and old alike. We also try to feature our graduating students in our story ballet at yearend.
“This year, we have eight graduating students who have been dancing at NLSD for quite some time. Cinderella has a host of characters which allows us to give our graduates special moments.”
She then adds, ” I happen to know, too, that this is a dream come true for our Cinderella this year. She has wanted to dance this part since she was just a little girl and has worked really hard for this.
“I am happy to be able to help fulfil her dream. Of course she isn’t the only dancer who has worked really hard. We have an amazing cast of characters, and I am very proud of all of them.”
This year’s Cinderella is Bailey Arnholz and the prince is Calvin Laveck. These two dancers have grown up together at the studio and they are both pursuing post-secondary education in the performing arts.
Laveck will be going to Sheridan College of the Performing Arts in Toronto and Arnholz has been accepted into the dance program at the University of Calgary.
Other graduating students performing in Cinderella are Ella Commons as the fairy godmother, Breanne Leschert and Sarah Fabbro Swizdaryk as the zany stepsisters and Feryn Nowatzki as the stepmother.
There is a multitude of fairies in the ballet, danced by some of the non-graduating dancers. Brooms, fairy dust, mice, grasshoppers, jewels, pages and jesters are performed by various classes, and let’s not forget the baby ballet dancers as the little butterflies – cute factor absolute!
Following Cinderella and an intermission on Friday night, the second half of the performance, The Enchanted Evening, will feature the contemporary ballet, Raven Steals the Sun, which was originally choreographed by Lemaire and Becky Reynolds for NLSD dancers attending the Dance and the Child International Conference (daCi ) held last summer in Jamaica.
There will also be several repertoire pieces, grad solos and class dances performed by students in Modern, Jazz, Hip hop, Tap, Flamenco and Bollywood.
“There are just so many people to thank when it comes to putting on our year-end show,” says Lemaire.
“We couldn’t do it without the never-ending help of our parent volunteers, the costume coordinators and seamstresses (Katie Arnholz and Alyson Stopps), the teachers, the teachers’ assistants and most importantly, all of our dedicated and hard-working dancers.
“We may all breathe a sigh of relief when the curtain closes, but we really did have an amazing journey in the process. We are excited to share our love of dance with our audiences.”
Cinderella will be performed at the Yukon Arts Centre Friday and Saturday evenings, May 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. with a matinée showing ofCinderella only on Saturday, May 15 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at Arts Underground or at YAC.