These young female dancers with the elite dance company from Studio Encore Dance Centre in Lloydminster spent a week performing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, during a group family funded vacation in February. Now they are getting set for the second annual Beat Dance Challenge in Lloydminster that will raise funds to support male dancers from all local clubs and counter any bullying they experience. SUPPLIED PHOTO
There will be no mariachi music at the upcoming second annual Beat Dance Challenge at the Vic Juba Community Theatre, but there will be a Mexican influence.
A group of 25 young dancers from the elite dance company at Studio Encore Dance Centre head into the challenge from March 22-25 fresh from performing for family members and guests at the Grand Marival resort in Puerto Vallarta during the February break.
“We just went there to perform and that’s what was so nice about it because we’re about to head into a busy season of competition,” said company director Danielle Neron.
“We are actually doing five this year, so it’s nice to get them some on-stage rehearsal and practice and just be able to enjoy it without the pressure of competition.”
This year’s dance challenge will involve 12 studios from all over Alberta and Saskatchewan compared to just six during the premiere event.
“It’s a competition and a festival in one and we also have an improv challenge, so there are a lot of different aspects that make our competition different from others,” said Neron.
“We have everything from highland dancing, jazz, tap, ballet and hip hop—everything you can imagine, there is a category for everyone.”
The dance challenge is also an ideal opportunity for all local dance clubs to rally support for male dancers in the city with a fundraising campaign called Real Men Dance.
“We call it Real Men Dance because honestly, boys in Lloydminster get a little bit bullied and they get a hard time for being in dance,” said Neron.
She said that actually causes male dancers to quit the arts because it’s hard for them to go through school and get bullied.
“This way we are just celebrating them and taking the moment and teaching them there is support for them and their community supports them,” said Neron, who noted there are five boys enrolled at the dance centre.
Proceeds from the sales of clothing during the dance challenge will go toward scholarships and workshops for the guys to support their dreams of being a dancer.
“We have a lot of male dancers in this city that have accomplished high levels and are working professionally and it would be nice if our city could acknowledge that there are strong male dancers in this community who are doing great things,” said Neron.
Male dancers will be a force onstage for the improv, festival and competition portions of the dance challenge in Lloydminster.
In the festival format, everyone is judged based on their performances and a medal standard is given to every single student with awards for first, second and third place.
For improv, dancers will go onstage for the first time, dance to music they’ve never heard before, and be judged for how well they work with the music.
Tickets to the event and competition portion will be available at the door.
Parents funded the vacation trip to Mexico that Neron said was an avenue for her dancers to not just compete, but also to perform for people.
“I feel that a lot of competitive studios focus on competition to be successful,” said Neron.
“That’s awesome and we do that as well, but I just wanted to bring the opportunity to the kids be a performance act for people are on holidays for a week.”
She said it a was really successful and positive trip with lots of fellow Canadians in the crowd.
The dancers ranged in age from eight to 18 who performed everything from hip hop, tap and jazz, to ballet and lyrical
“We kind of brought a little bit of everything which was nice,” said Neron.