By Barb Brouwer
Fourteen dancers will be strutting their stuff in the Salmon Arm Secondary Sullivan theatre this month.
With one of 15 class members acting as stage manager, Danielle Berger’s Grade 11/12 dance class members will perform in a semester ending recital.
There is what Berger deems “an interesting mix” of students this year.
Some take lessons at local studios and have up to 13 years of experience, while others had never danced before the September semester began.
“It’s different from studios where dancers are grouped by experience rather than class,” she says, pointing out that choreographing a number that accommodates every capability is a challenge. “It’s challenging not only for entry level dancers to work up to the level of the seasoned dancers, but also a challenge for seasoned dancers to work with the less experienced ones.”
But, as in every year, Berger says her classes have been attended by many artistic students, whether they’re dancers, technicians, musicians or artists.
“They all have a similar passion for the arts and particularly music; it’s a shared bond,” she says. “And, as there is no experience needed to be in the dance class, it means there is a lot of growth in the five months I work with them.”
The SAS dance recital will feature 10 dances – four of them group numbers choreographed by Berger. The other numbers have been created by students in small groups, something Berger calls a great opportunity for them to experience self-directed learning.
Some of the songs students will dance to will be familiar to the public, while others are not so well-known. Dances will feature a variety of styles – jazz, hip hop, contemporary, modern and even character-driven dance.
It’s classed as musical theatre but without the singing.
“The students have been extra helpful and supportive as I am five weeks away from having my third baby, so I have been a bit slower,” laughs Berger, who credits her students with meeting the challenge by taking on additional responsibilities and learning the routines by voice commands rather than demonstrations by her.
Dance class students are graded on a combination of class attendance, participation, performance at recital and their group project.
Berger loves her students and the classes she teaches and is excited that all of the Grade 11 students have said they’d like to sign up for dance in Grade 12. And she’s doubly thrilled that dance will be taught in the second semester next year, when she has returned from maternity leave.
Berger, who has been teaching at SAS since 2012, was born and raised in Salmon Arm. Because dance classes were not an option when she attended school, she spent 15 years studying dance at Just For Kicks.
“I am so grateful for all the lessons and experience, and I think my parents were happy the dance lessons paid off,” she laughs, describing the money and commitment her parents provided when she was growing up. “After I got my degree, there was actually a pay off.”
The recital takes place Thursday and Friday, Jan. 16 and 17 in the Sullivan Theatre. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. and the show starts at 6:30. Tickets at $10 are available now at the Sullivan campus office, or at the door.
Photos by Cameron Thomson/Salmon Arm Observer