The Bella Dance Academy in Yellowknife is doing what was once deemed impossible in this Covid-19 world: hosting performances for families to physically attend.
After months of careful planning, 98 dancers between the ages of seven and 18 will be participating in an outdoor dance recital at the Folk on the Rocks site this Sunday.
It will be a simple but efficient operation, studio director Phoenix Smith said.
Throughout the day, students will perform in groups of five or fewer and are only allowed three guests each. They’ll be funnelled on and off the site in a strict one-way system, and markers will be used to make sure dancer and audience members stay two metres apart.
Outdoor performances such as this are allowed in phase two of the NWT’s Covid-19 recovery plan, which started on Friday.
In an email, studio director Phoenix Smith told Cabin Radio coordinating a live performance had been “a huge job” when it came to ensuring dancers and families can attend safely, but that planning has earned the event a green light from health authorities.
It’s worth the effort to give students a chance to showcase their hard work, Smith said.
Bella Dance usually hosts its end-of-year recitals at the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC) in Yellowknife, with about 250 participants.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic made that impossible this year, Smith and the crew wanted to make sure the dancers still had a chance to celebrate their accomplishments.
“A lot of these dancers have been with us since September,” Smith said. “And we really felt that it was important to be able to celebrate the season, finish the season strong, and to be able to celebrate their resiliency and their adaptability.”
Ordinarily, recitals are held indoors in venues like Yellowknife’s NACC. Photo: Supplied
Adze Christensen, nine, watches instructor Phoenix Smith during a Zoom dance class. Photo: Jocelyn Christensen
The performances this Sunday aren’t the only ones Bella Dance has cooked up.
This past week, the studio hosted an online recital, where dancers dressed up and filmed themselves dancing for their families in their own living rooms. Smith has since edited the clips to create a virtual dance collage, which will be sent to families.
“It was the only way that could celebrate with everybody all in the same place,” Smith said.
And for younger students between the ages of three and six who might have a harder time socially distancing, there will be special “red carpet” treatment.
One by one, the tiny dancers (thanks, Elton John) will come to the studio with their families and perform on a solo stage. Alongside applause from adoring familial fans, they’ll get their pictures taken and a gift bag of goodies to take home.
Smith sent a special shoutout to Dash Rentals, who donated decorations for the event to “make sure it was successful and special for the kids.”
On Sunday, five of the senior dancers are bidding adieu to the studio as they graduate high school. Smith is looking forward to seeing them one last time in person and wishing them well.
“I know I’m gonna get emotional watching the seniors dancing together for the last time,” she said. “With all the sort-of special things we’ve added into these experiences, I think it’s gonna be really, really unique and something that will they will absolutely remember.
“So, no matter what, this season will stand out for them in their memories of dance recitals.”