Cate Carlin, Daria Sharpe and Nicole Glover of Steps Ahead Dance after completing the Intermediate Foundation Examination with the Royal Academy of Dance in 2021. (Submitted)

Arts and Entertainment column: The dance goes on; fundraiser success; art and watersheds meet

What's going on in Cowichan's arts and entertainment community

Cowichan Valley’s excellent dance schools have not been idle during the COVID-19 pandemic, though they’ve certainly faced challenges to how they can continue to guide our Valley’s dancers to further heights of technical proficiency and performance.

Lorraine Blake of Steps Ahead Dance dropped us a note last week to let us know how things have been going — and they’ve been busy!

“Adjusting our operations and teaching methods during the pandemic this past year, has been a grand challenge,” she said. “But of great importance is that we remain committed to our dancers’ successes, and whilst following the CDC protocols and guidelines, Steps Ahead Dance enabled our students to continue to train, strengthen and perform. The students of Steps Ahead Dance recently completed two sessions of remote dance examinations, with the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance and the Royal Academy of Dance, and also a day of filming at [Cowichan Performing Arts Centre] for remote dance competitions and festivals. Examiners from the UK and Toronto remotely assessed our dancers; all dancers have now received their results (100 per cent successes) with several students receiving Distinctions.”

Kudos to the Steps Ahead dancers.


Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue out of Mill Bay is giving a big thanks to donors and supporters following the wrap-up of their fundraising auction.

“Bidding was hot and heavy until the end, especially during the final minutes of the auction,” the group enthused in a press release. “We could have sold several items a second time if we had them.”

The auction, held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, raised $12,455, along with $2,560 in cash donations. Any unsold items are now available for bidding on the Kidneys on the Move auction site, and any proceeds will be split with that organization.

RCMSAR is a non-profit organization that responds to disasters, boating problems, floatplane and medical emergencies. Their annual operating costs are $35,000 of which they are required to raise 25 per cent. They must also fundraise for capital projects such as the replacement of their boathouse. The Mill Bay Marine Rescue Society is a registered charity and receipts are issued for all donations over $20. You can donate directly at:


The Cowichan Valley Arts Council is all about watersheds this spring and summer.

“Art will combine with science and natural history to deliver a powerful message about the importance of our watersheds in the Cowichan Valley,” says a press release. “Starting in the spring, the Cowichan Valley Arts Council will engage with Valley residents about the watershed, all through the lens of art.”

In the next few months, CVAC and other environmental groups will offer education and art activities for families and artists in the community.

As a major part of the initiative, CVAC is hosting the Watershed Art Show, from Aug. 27 to Sept. 23 at its large gallery in the Cowichan Community Centre. The inspiration for the show and programs will be the seven aspirational targets set by the Cowichan Watershed Board — everything from estuary health to protected riverside habitats and clean drinking water. Activities for families will include outdoor painting and crafts.

“Our goal is to use an experiential, artistic approach to raising awareness in the Cowichan community about the value of managing our watersheds wisely,” said CVAC President Janet Magdanz. “Art is a great way to help people experience nature.”

For more information call 250-746-1633 or go to


Imagine That! gallery in downtown Duncan has two new artists featured in its windows for April, both woodworkers.

One window displays beautiful wooden boxes by Robert Andrews.

“Robert Andrews creates magnificent hand-crafted boxes from selected hardwoods found on Mayne Island,” a press release describes. “His boxes have a smooth velvety touch on the exterior, and his interiors often feature nested shelves. From the tiniest of boxes which might hold one precious piece of jewelry to larger boxes which could corral all of your electronic devices, his boxes are a treasure.”

The second window features Jake Humphrey from Pacifica Woodwork and Design.

“Jake Humphrey’s motto is ‘designed by nature, crafted by hand’,” the press release says. “For him, this means creating one-of-a-kind furniture pieces, charcuterie boards, and kitchen accessories from locally sourced wood, using the natural racks and fissures that form as wood dries, and the natural colours of each wood to enhance the designs.”

Cowichan Valley Citizen


Julia Hussey, Emma Desjardins, Riley Hedquist-Marshall and Eva Armstrong of Steps Ahead Dance preparing to take the Grade 5 Royal Academy of Dance Award in 2021. (Submitted)

Intermediate Modern Group, Aeternum from Steps Ahead Dance: Chelsea Lin, Sadie MacDonald, Nicole Glover, Cate Carlin, Daria Sharpe, Abigail Smith and Aysia Millar. (Choreography Hayley Newcombe) filmed on the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre stage for remote competitions in 2021. (Submitted)

Aimee Craig of Steps Ahead Dance performing her modern solo (choreography C and H Newcombe) on the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre stage in 2021. (Submitted)

Senior Ballet Group from Steps Ahead Dance: Alison Vliet, Lyla Hatton, Bridget Pimenta, Zoe Williams-Tuomi and Natalie Geldart (choreography Cat Newcombe) filmed on the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre stage for remote competitions in 2021. (Submitted)

A piece by Jake Humphrey, whose woodwork is featured in the window of Imagine That! gallery in downtown Duncan through April. (Submitted)

A wooden box by Robert Andrews, whose work is featured in a window of Imagine That! gallery in downtown Duncan through April. (Submitted)