Review: This Is Why We Dance a cross-cultural pearl

Chelsea Quist in full flight Thursday during her routine Better Than I Know Myself performed at Chemainus Secondary School
Chelsea Quist in full flight Thursday during her routine Better Than I Know Myself performed at Chemainus Secondary School's recital This Is Why We Dance.
— image credit: Andrew Leong

Chemainus secondary’s joyful one-night stand ably displayed This Is Why We Dance.

Reasons surfaced Thursday during 25 rollicking routines by teacher Sarah Lane’s Grade 9 to 12 floor artists.

Cross-cultural choreography for some 300 friends, fans and family left pupils of varied dance experience and abilities nowhere to hide.

They didn’t want to.

Their smiling conveyor-belt of cool routines earned cheers, whistles and applause for several-dozen dancers backed by tunes between The Beatles, Michael Jackson and Bon Iver, to The Killers, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Pink, and Marianas Trench.

Live drumming for eight-member Basket Lady was lent by the Chemainus Tzinq’uaw Dancers. This Aboriginal act added a special reminder of the area’s cultural heritage and legends.

With no sets or props, the gym’s wooden floor hopped from opening ensemble Medley, to solos including Jami-Lynne Dalziel’s demanding Freak, Kelsie Vosshans’ balletic Crystallize, Chelsea Quist’s modern Better Than I Know Myself, Tegan Luckham’s perky Tea Party, and Claire Saunders’ jazz number Nick Of Time, and Rachel Camp’s fluid What Water Gave Me.

One notable solo saw Jordie Peterson lose an earring during The Fighter, but stay focused. Folks watched as Peterson didn’t squash her jewel, later kicked to side-stage during muscular Try, by Schade Dame and Carlie Deeble.

Peterson re-entered wearing her wayward earring for the finale mob scene Show Me How You Burlesque.

Another memorable oddity was Aislinn Cottell’s Spaceman. The diminutive dancer in red pajamas used melancholy expression and a Chaplinesque texture to enliven The Killers’ tune.

Standout work also came from lone male dancer Chuckie Sam’s moves to Michael Jackson’s You Rock My World, crowned by a final-note fedora toss into the crowd.

Lane’s period-two jazz class plugged into Technologic using iPod light and robotic moves to project messages of society’s trivial chatter.

Some routines seemed perfectly synched; others offered a relaxed feel as kids took energetic ownership of each number.

Having fun while overcoming personal issues, and staging entertaining art, forged lifelong lessons during this annual community treat.

Dance recital rating: 8.5 toes out of 10.

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