Three dancers from Maple Ridge have been chosen for one of the most prestigious competitions in the world.
The International Dance Organizations’s World Show Dance Championships are held every year in Riesa, Germany. The organization represents more than 250,000 member dancers across six continents.
There are two teams from Canada entered into the Olympic-style competition where winning teams will receive either a gold, silver or bronze medal, one representing western Canada and the other representing the east.
All the dancers will be performing in show dance style that is like jazz but involves a lot of props, performance and storytelling.
In each age category dancers are chosen to perform a solo, duo, a small group routine or a large group routine. They have been preparing for the competition since late August.
This is Kiana Dyer’s first time going to the dance competition. The 16-year-old dances out of Coastal Edge Dance Centre in Port Coquitlam. She will be competing in the large group or formation category on the adult team in a dance called Triumph of the Bulls.
It is also Dyer’s first experience performing show dance on stage.
“Show dance is kind of what you make of it. It can be different for everybody. Mine is more like a jazz kind of style,” said Dyer, who usually gravitates towards lyrical or contemporary dance.
“It’s very hard hitting and there are a lot of actions that you have to hit. Everything has to be the same. If one person is out of line they will notice. You have to be very precise and know what you are doing at every moment,” said Dyer of the challenging routine involving 17 dancers.
This is the third trip to the world-wide competition for Hayley Hedquist.
The 14-year-old who dances out of K&S Dance in Port Coquitlam, participated last year as well and also in 2014. This year she will be performing a dance called Running with the Wolves with the junior team in the large group category.
“It is a story about Little Red Riding Hood,” said Hedquist who plays one of the wolves in the dance.
“We’re scary wolves and she comes to overpower us and she is our leader at the end,” explained Hedquist.
Last year Hedquist’s group made it the semi-finals. This year she hopes to go all the way.
All teams dance in the preliminaries and 24 make it to the quarter finals. Only 12 teams go to the semifinals and then the top six go to the finals.
What Hedquist loves most about the dance she is performing is the emotion in it.
“I like expressing my feelings through dance. For this dance specifically it’s scary,” explained Hedquist adding that she also loves performing in a big group because it makes her feel strong.
Relinda Kozol who is only 7-years-old is the youngest member of the team and the youngest ever chosen for the team. Kozol dances out of Pulse Dance Centre in Port Coquitlam and will be dancing in three categories at the competition. She will be dancing a duo and also performing in both the small and the big groups on the children’s team.
In the duo entitled Bewitched she plays the part of a good witch who tries to help her partner who is hurt by giving him a magic potion to fix him. However, he turns evil during the dance and in the end she has to help him again.
Her small group routine is called Drum Line where each dancer is a drummer in a marching band.
The large group routine is called Batter Up.
“We’re in this baseball field and I’m the underdog and then like the coach tells me to play the base and then I hit the home run and then we start dancing with joy,” explained Kozol who performed her first solo on stage at the age of four.
There are 50 dancers on the western Canadian team from across the province who will be leaving on Nov. 17 for the competition which runs from Nov. 20-25. Danielle Gardner is the choreographer for the western Canada team.
Dyer, Hedquist and Kozol are all looking forward to meeting new people and travelling. Dancers bring pins and make beaded bracelets to exchange with competitors from other countries. Kozol, whose mother is of South African heritage, even knows how to say Hello in the African language of Zulu, a skill she hopes to use at the competition.
But the best part of being chosen for the competition is becoming part of a new dance family.
“It’s like a family. I’ve grown close to all the girls on my team,” said Dyer.
“Some people go again. But for most people they do this once and it is such an experience that you’ll hold with you for the rest of your life.”