Into Wonderland with the Northern Lights School of Dance

Young cast members from the Northern Lights School of Dance production of Alice In Wonderland pose for a photo. (NLSD/Facebook)Young cast members from the Northern Lights School of Dance production of Alice In Wonderland pose for a photo. (NLSD/Facebook)
Some of the cast from the Northern Lights School of Dance production of Alice In Wonderland. (NLSD/Facebook)Some of the cast from the Northern Lights School of Dance production of Alice In Wonderland. (NLSD/Facebook)

Northern Lights School of Dance (NLSD) is once again proud to present their year-end performances at the Yukon Arts Center.

The school endeavours to ensure every student in the many different classes it offers has a chance to shine on-stage.

NLSD works hard to make dance as accessible as possible with a variety of programming to ensure that each student, from those just starting out to senior students, have their chance and time on stage.

“We make sure that no matter who you are, what your background is, there’s definitely kind of a spot or an option for you at a school,” says artistic director Christina Buckle. “We try to keep that as open as possible.”

The student dancers, have always been the focus and priority for NLSD, from making sure to teach them in ways each student best learns to teaching them how to dance from an anatomical perspective, learning how their bodies move and how that changes as they grow, instead of just mimicking the teachers’ movements. This is very important, says Buckle, given that it’s very physically intensive.

“[We] really take each student and help them individually, rather than teach them as one same body. That’s something that I think our school is also cognitive of, to make sure that each student is getting total care based on their individuality,” says Buckle.

“I love the ballet style and community energy at NLSD,” says dancer Pyper Smith.

As Iris Tremblay put it: “Dancing helps me to control my emotions and let them out in a different way than saying them. I love dancing because I feel stronger in my everyday life, and it makes me feel happy to dance almost everyday.”

This year, the students are excited to feature three different shows. First is the ballet classes presenting Alice In Wonderland on May 12 and 13 with students ranging in age from three to 18.

“I am really excited to perform as Tweedle Dee in the Alice in Wonderland ballet. I love to perform and play a character on stage and it will be the first time I will perform on pointe. This role allows me to bring lots of facial expressions and use my stage presence to make the character come to life,” says dancer Stella Burns.

On May 13, the Variety Show will feature the competitive dancers performing dances that helped them win awards at the Prince George Dance Festival in March, as well as creations by the students themselves.

Travelling to and winning at the festival meant a lot to the dancers, says Buckle. Having the chance to go out of territory and compete with their peers to get that Outside perspective on their hard work was a wonderful opportunity and the dancers shone, she said.

“We love them, our kids are amazing, but they’ve heard it from us enough,” laughs Buckle. “Getting that outsider, third-eye validation has been really great for a lot of them. We’ve noticed a huge, lovely change in our kids, especially their motivation and their engagement and passion really growing with going to the festivals.”

“Performing at the Prince George Dance Festival this past March was a great opportunity to meet and feel inspired by other dancers and to represent Yukon with my NLSD team,” says Burns.

Last for the year-end performances is the Contemporary Showcase on May 17 and 18. Featuring different, more upbeat and modern dance styles from dancers the theme is Nine to Five.

“Some of them are very funny and some of them are a little more serious. But it’s a pretty entertaining show,” says Buckle.

“Dance is my entire life. It is my biggest passion and I spend pretty much all my time there,” says Smith. “My favourite styles of dance are ballet and contemporary ballet because I adore the technique and emotion you portray.”

Tremblay said she enjoys the flow of contemporary dance and noted it doesn’t feel as restrictive as other dances.

Other dancers noted their love of a variety of styles as well as opportunities at the dance school.

“I like them all,” says dancer Ember Johnson. “The teachers and performing.”

All in all, the NLSD is very excited to bring together the talents and passion for the year-end performances showing the culmination of all the hard work over the past year.

“It’s a lot of teamwork, but everyone’s different. You have to bring them all together and they have to have that knowledge and respect of what they can do, how they can make it work for themselves, and then bring it all together. It’s a beautiful symphony of different people,” says Buckle.

Storm Blakley is a freelance writer and poet based in Whitehorse.