Two Stettler dancers to perform in opening ceremonies of Winter Games

Hailie Ripley, 15, and Evie Blake, 14, both part of winter games opening

By Emily Jaycox The Independent

Two young dancers from Stettler performed in the opening ceremonies of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer on Friday, Feb. 15.

Hailie Ripley, 15, and Evie Blake, 14, both tried out in the fall at different auditions and made it through amongst hundreds of hopefuls.

“I was absolutely terrified [to try out],” said Ripley.

“I didn’t think I’d get in, considering I’m from such a small studio.”

The auditionees were given a piece of choreography and those who could copy and learn it the best were accepted.

The dancers, sorted into four different groups, performed two numbers, the “Parade of the athletes” and the “Finale.”

The dancers had a third practice Feb. 13, and practiced all day on Friday up until the ceremonies began at 7 p.m.

Although the practices were long and tiring, the people made it fun says Ripley, adding she felt she would be ready by showtime.

“I’m so excited.”

Ripley, who dances with JDs Academy of Dance Synergy, has been dancing since she was two years old.

“I love it, it’s my passion.”

Ripley says performing at the games is the peak of anything she’s done so far.

Two years ago, she was awarded the top overall junior soloist at the Sizzle Camrose.

She tried out to be a part of the opening ceremonies because it was a rare opportunity she couldn’t pass up.

“I had to take it,” she said.

“I hope everyone in Stettler watches the games.”

Blake dances with Danceology, and has been dancing since she was three.

“It’s just always been my thing … it brings me joy,” she said.

“I’m really excited to be a part of something bigger than Stettler, coming from a small town.”

Blake says she wants to be a good representative of her studio and show there are good dancers in Stettler.

She tried out for the games because “I thought it would be a really fun experience where I could meet new people.”

She attends as many workshops as she can and wanted the experience of an audition, she says.

Blake has previously attended Dance Attack camp on a full scholarship and was awarded a couple of scholarships to go to Dancers Edge workshops during the last competition season.

The games started on Feb. 15 and will go until March 3, featuring 19 sports, more than 150 events and about 3,600 athletes, managers and coaches.

There are no athletes from the Stettler-area on Team Alberta.

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