Come snow, sleet, hail or scheduling difficulties, the show must go on. And the Santana Dance Festival will go at the Arden Theatre on March 27 and 28 with a kaleidoscope of dancers ranging from tulle-gowned ballerinas to funky, street-wise hip hoppers.
Now in its 12th year, the festival usually draws dancers from across Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan. “We usually book our festival the first week of April. But this year because of Easter, we had to move it back one week and that’s what messed us up,” explains Annabelle Charbonneau of Gibbons. As festival host, she is cofounder of Shy-Anne Dance Productions, along with daughter Shylo Strum, a former dancer.
Last year, the competitive festival drew in about a dozen schools and more than 1,000 dancers. This year only five schools, including St. Albert’s DanceCo. and about 700 dancers will groove to the theme Dance Like Nobody is Watching.
“Something like this helps build self-esteem. It keeps kids busy so they don’t get into trouble and it teaches them about life. In life, you have to work for things. Nothing is handed to you. It teaches you to be sports-minded and it creates camaraderie.”
The two-day-event showcases tomorrow’s dance stars and introduces some of the area’s cutting edge choreography in ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, musical theatre, contemporary, modern and lyrical. Prepare for a creative blend of flying leaps, snappy taps, sweeping pirouettes and robotic twists.
After the adjudication by judge Mecca Vazi Andrews from The Edge in Los Angeles, winning students receive a medal and $25,000 in scholarships. Several of the biggest scholarships are to New York’s Broadway Dance Centre, Los Angeles’ The Edge, and both The Harbour and Groove Street in Vancouver. There is even a $400 tap scholarship to the winning dancer’s school of choice.
The Santana Dance Festival runs Saturday from noon to 8:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The cost is $6 for a one-day pass or $11 for a two-day pass. Tickets are available at the door.