Local dancers take steps to new heights
When she was younger, Kristen Joy-Correl dreamed of being a ballerina.
As one of four senior dancers at Canmore’s Terpsichore Dance studio to have achieved her Royal Academy of Dance Classical Ballet Grade 8 award, Joy-Correl has earned her tutu.
Alongside Astrid Eckerle, Sara Poidevin and Juli Ohsada, Joy-Correl passed ballet’s highest graded exam with the “distinction” mark. Passing the exam, which they accomplished late last year, means they are dancing at an international level.
And this weekend, June 15 and 16, the dancers will share their skills and talent with audiences at Terpsichore’s annual year-end showcase at the Banff Centre’s Margaret Greenham Theatre.
“I am so thrilled for them,” said Terpsichore director and owner Marisa Dario. “I’ve been teaching them since they were little girls and I’ve watched them grow into young women.”
Her first students to pass that exam since she opened her school eight years ago, Dario said it’s taken time for both her and her students to build up to that level. The Grade 8 exam involves dances that are romantic, including Russian and Polish dancing, complete with the polonaise entrances of grand European courts.
“They had a lot to learn for each dance,” Dario said. “Every dance is very stylized and detailed.” For Poidevin, 16, reaching the Grade 8 level feels like a big achievement, made all the more possible by Dario’s efforts and talents.
“We worked really hard for quite a few months for the exam,” Poidevin said. “It helps to have a good instructor, and our instructor is very good and really qualified.”
After taking dance lessons for eight years, ballet, Poidevin admitted, is her favourite dance technique.
“I love how you have to work a lot on position and technique and also on expression – both body and facial expression,” she said. “In ballet you’re not just doing the movements, you have to feel the music and express yourself through the music.”
For Eckerle, 18, ballet offers a great foundation for all kinds of dance.
“We all worked really hard for a lot of years to get up to that level, so it’s nice to finish,” Eckerle said. “I like that ballet is the foundation for of all other kinds of dance. You learn the techniques and you can learn other kinds of dance. I really like it and want to get better at it, and I want to get really good at hip hop.”
Toward that end, Eckerle is excited to have been awarded 20 classes at Los Angeles’ EDGE Performing Dance Centre, one of North America’s top schools.
“It’s the big spot for all dance,” Eckerle said. “Its’ really exciting, there are lots of famous teachers there.”
Fifteen-year-old Ohsada, who in addition to being a talented dancer is also an accomplished figure skater, was also awarded a coveted place at the week-long Rocky Mountain Dance Project in Jasper this summer.
“I love all kinds of dance,” Ohsada said. “I like how ballet is graceful, but you have to have strength too. I think dance and skating complement each other well. Skating helps with strength, ballet helps with gracefulness.”
The Grade 8 exam, she admits, was tough.
“The exam was really nerve wracking at first,” she said. “We had to do lots of solos, alone in the room with the pianist and the examiner. It was pretty intimidating, but I’m really happy with how I did.”
And for Joy-Correl, now that she’s reached a high level in ballet, she’s more interested in contemporary dance.
“I really like contemporary, it’s so free,” she said. “Ballet is more controlled, exact. In contemporary there’s diversity in the movement you can do. I love how you don’t use words to express how you’re feeling. I really like that there are always different styles and teachers to learn from, and how you can learn new ways to improve techniques and use muscle groups, new ways to control your body, move it in ways you want it to.”
While Friday night’s show at the Margaret Greenham is sold out, tickets are still available for Saturday’s shows at 2 and 7 p.m. Contact Terpsichore at http://terpsichoredance.ca
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