They’ve spent the winter practicing their pirouettes and partner routines, and now the students at Nelson’s Dance Umbrella are bringing a season of hard work to the Capitol Theatre.
Running Thursday to Saturday, the annual year-end show will feature about 200 dancers, some as young as five years old, some well into their 30s.
Senior dancers — some of whom have more than a decade of dancing experience, despite being in their teens — say this year’s show will feature the wide range of styles the year-end showcase is known for, while adding some new features to the mix.
“This year there’s a wide variety of dances that involve acting with our faces, and that’s new this year,” says Sarah Hicks, 15. “Just keep an eye out for different facial expressions.”
Also new this year is the Horton Technique, a style of movement 37-year-old Lisa Schwab describes as “a completely different technique than ballet or hip hop. It’s a modern technique and it requires a lot of athleticism and you’ll see a lot more of that in the dances.”
“We’re doing a piece in which we are dead, so we’ll be wearing skulls and makeup,” adds 17-year-old Aja Lamb-Hartley. “And there’s ballet — it’s awesome because there’s kind of a little bit of everything.”
Other styles of dance on offer include jazz, lyrical, hip hop and partnering work, where male and female dancers team up for pieces that include dramatic lifts and spins.
Hicks says the variety — including the large age range of dancers in the show — is what makes it work.
“It’s from really young kids to old kids, and all kinds of dance. It’s fun, it’s not just technique oriented, it’s also performance oriented.”
“There’s also some comedy,” adds Lamb-Hartley. “It’s everything you would hope to get out of a dance show.”
Dancers began preparing some of their pieces for the Capitol Show last September, but have kicked their practice schedule into high gear in the last month, says Gabriel Macdonald, 15. Where he might have danced a couple hours a week for most of the year, “now we’re doing a three hour practice every night.”
But for Macdonald, the hard work he and his fellow students have put into their routines is a big part of why the show works.
“There aren’t many places where you can see young people really exploring their passions,” he says. “And this is one of those outlets where a lot of people can really show the whole audience this is their passion.”
The Dance Umbrella year end showcase runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Capitol Theatre, with a matinee performance Saturday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $11.