A Maple Ridge dancer took top honours at the Performing Arts B.C. provincial finals in Chilliwack last week.
Bella Olson-Brooks, 16, won the best in B.C. in the ages 16-20 category for stage dance, defeating 21 other provincial representatives.
Bella won not only for her tap routine, called Summertime, and her stage routine – a dance that can encompass tap, singing, lip syncing, jazz or lyrical jazz, called The Heckler – but also for her efforts during a series of workshops that the judges hold during competition week.
For about an hour and a half to two hours each day, dancers were taught a tap or jazz routine by the judges, who run through skill sets with them and evaluate how each dancer learns the dance and if they take corrections well.
“It’s about hard work,” said Bella’s father, Kevin.
He praised the Peggy Peat School of Dance, where Bella has been dancing since age 3 and learned the award-winning work ethic from the school.
“Everywhere we go – to conventions, to competitions – our kids are always complimented on their work ethic,” he said.
“The week before, [Bella] sprained her ankle pretty bad in hip hop. So she is there with a bandage on her foot. You know, power through it is just the way these kids are and that’s a testament to the studio,” he said of Peggy Peat School of Dance.
And, he said, when he watches dancers from Peggy Peat, their faces are always bright and shiny and reflect the pure joy of dance, something that more technical dancers don’t always do.
Olson-Brooks had been chosen by the Surrey Festival of Dance to be its senior representative in the competition after she took first place in the solo stage category at its event this year and impressed the judges with an audition and with her master classes for stage, tap and lyrical jazz.
Each major community in B.C. has local festivals, at which dancers compete to go to provincials.
Olson-Brooks routinely trains in tap, ballet, hip hop, jazz, lyrical jazz, contemporary jazz, stage, modern, and song and dance, spending up to 25 hours per week rehearsing, not including extra solo practices and competitions.
This coming November and December, Olson-Brooks will be competing for team Canada in jazz and modern dance at the World Championships in Warsaw, Poland.
Her ultimate goal is to perform on cruise ships just like her older sister, Olyvia, who won the same competition three years ago, who will be back in B.C. after her second year of touring through Southeast Asia.