It was a truly inspirational day for a gathering of young dancing students at Stettler’s Danceology studio last month.
KC Workshops was in town to deliver their message of dance, explained Rhonda McCulloch, owner of the local studio.
Kianna Unger, Chanal Lacasse and Haley VanRijn are all originally from Coaldale, a small town near Lethbridge.
They brought their talents to those fortunate enough to attend, she explained.
”All three girls have been training at Canada’s most prestigious professional school ‘Harbour Dance Front’ in Vancouver,” she said. “You have to audition and be amazing to get in.
“Because of the experience they have gained in their study of dance in Vancouver, they have decided to provide a one-day workshop for other talented dancers in small towns.”
This year marks the second year the women have hosted the workshop which is for dancers ages eight to 18.
For the Stettler event, dancers from Red Deer, Tofield, Hardisty and of course Stettler were fortunate enough to attend.
Smiles and laughter along with a bit of dancers sweaty glow was the course for the day, said McCulloch.
“I think they were semi awestruck a little bit,” she added of the students who took part in the special day. “These guys are wonderful, and they are at the top of their performing game as well. It’s interesting, as they have also all taken on teaching positions in Vancouver – they love to teach the kids; they just love them,” she said.
“They did contemporary, hip-hop; they did some self-esteem building, and some jazz. They were ultra-prepared and ultra-awesome. The kids raced around between the classes, and a really good sign for me when I’m hosting these things is that we have these tables set up where children can group together. The kids were all sitting together and laughing together – they weren’t separated into little groups at all. They were all together, which is a cool thing.”
The feedback she received following the day was also encouraging.
“There was nothing but positivity,” she said. “The kids were exhausted – they definitely got their dancing in for the day, so they were tired and happy.
“You hear some horror stories about kids going off to some of these workshops with diva-type teachers or non-personal teachers. But that just wasn’t the case with these guys. I think, partially, it’s also because of their small-town upbringing.
“They’re pretty humble gals.”
For McCulloch, there really is nothing quite like the world of dance.
“From a dancer point of view, I can never know it all. I’m never bored. There is always more things to explore,” she explained. “There is always another angle. Dance also continues to evolve – the way we used to do things when I was growing up is not the way they are done now with regards to the approach taken with the students, our education about the body and how the body works – all of that just gets better and better every year.”
Recently, she was in Cape Breton for a step-dancing stint. “For me, it’s always a challenge. I’m able also to go into any expert or advance class, but I could also go into any beginner class and gain knowledge from that as well.
“As far as teaching – oh my heavens – watching those kids,” she said, referring to the joy she finds in leading her talented troupe of dancers. “It’s a self-confidence builder. It’s about watching them understand that they are able to do things, and watching them figure out that they are more than capable of accomplishing goals and tasks.
“The students that I am able to work with are keen learners – they’re good kids. We volunteer and perform all over the place. The parents are also just wonderful – it’s a real sense of community.”
Ultimately, the KC Workshop proved a terrific learning experience indeed.
“What a wonderful opportunity for these dancers to (learn) from instructors different from those they study with all dance season,” said McCulloch, adding that the women are already booked to come back next year.
“That is the real beauty of it – sharing the love of dance to all. Dance is really a folk tale that needs to be told from one person to the next.”