Dancing the night away: a labour of love

By MIRANDA BROOKWELL

There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good. ~ Edwin Denby

Words cannot express how much I agree. On weekday nights, a large group of girls gather in the gym of Ponoka United Church to blast some music, laugh, and dance. We talk a lot, sometimes rather loudly, have the occasional wipe-out as the rest of the room erupts into laughter, and often go home with floor burn or bruises. We are competitive dancers. I’m proud to be one of them.

I’m a member of Got 2 Dance Productions and dance three nights a week in a variety of forms such modern, jazz, ballet, and a solo. I dance alongside girls I’ve grown up with, girls that were there long before I was, and some brand new faces, too. At every practice I’m surrounded by talent – it just blows me away. Not everyone realizes what we Got 2 Dance girls are capable of. Jumps and turns, both graceful and sharp movement, and excellent musicality. To be able to tap your feet to the rhythm of a song on the radio is one thing, but to move your body to the beat (and actually look good) is quite another.

Thanks to our teachers Anne-Alisa Wiancko and Gjenna Saretsky, we can accomplish that. Gjenna and Anne-Alisa are definitely our fearless leaders as we try new moves, costumes, or choreography ideas. They also have what seems to be bottomless patience for our incessant chatter and love of making weird faces in the mirrors. I suppose that’s the “insanity” part of dancing. We’re so weird sometimes I can’t even explain it, but that’s what I love about our studio. We’re cheery and relaxed, and at the end of the day, we can still dance like nobody’s business. I’d gladly recommend our studio to any new or continuing dancers of any age. Personally, I’ve had only positive experiences at dance, and I’m very proud of our dancers and our studio as a whole.

As competitions get closer and we start to finish our dances, each class is spent tidying up and perfecting timing, arm movements, and pointed toes. I wish that everyone knew the athletic side of dance, and how fit you actually have to be to dance a routine over and over and over again. A good stretch class can leave a person with sore muscles for a couple of days, and you would never know by looking at a dancer that she could most likely kick your butt and look graceful doing it.

Thankfully though, it’s not all hard work! Our costumes arrived last week in big plastic bags, and it felt like a big game of dress up as we ripped open the wrapping and rushed to try everything on. Sequins and skirts and hats and dresses were everywhere. That is the stereotypical part of dance. I’m most certainly not against it. Competition is always my favourite time of the dance season. I love the stage, the bright lights, and that constant smell of hairspray in the air.

Then there are the dance families that just make my day. Dads who can put perfect curls in their daughter’s hair, Moms who can somehow have four kids dressed and ready, lipstick and all, in five minutes. Wow.

But after all the primping and preparing is done, the whole season comes down to that final moment before you step onstage. I always get butterflies as I peek at the audience from behind the curtains. The judges sit at their table, pens at the ready, to mark us and award our medals. Family, friends, and strangers watch intently. It’s a feeling that is difficult to put into words. It’s seven months of practicing for three minutes of stage time. It’s a “now or never” climactic moment that you only seem to see in movies. It’s almost sad to think that three minutes later you’ll be laughing and feeling so relieved that it’s all over. It’s what I love.

And that’s how I explain dance. It’s different for everyone, but it’s what I love

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