Dancing through time 

Soul Funktion Studio presents their year-end show, The Quest, with a special twist

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What: The Quest dance performance

When: Friday, May 29, 6:30 p.m., Saturday, May 30, 1:30 p.m. & 6:30 p.m., Sunday, May 31, 1:30 p.m.

Where: MY Millennium Place

Cost: Adults $22, kids $9.99

Everyone likes a good surprise, right?

Well, just days before the debut of Soul Funktion Studio's annual year-end show, dancers are busily rehearsing in preparation for a show that is still a bit of a mystery, even to them.

This year, the theme and vision for the performance hasn't been quite as straightforward as usual.

Codi Dalen, studio director, is happy to disclose the overall concept for the show: Dance Through the Ages, which sees the dancers exploring the evolution of dance up until the 20 th century, fitting styles like breakdance, swing and disco together in a cohesive, natural way.

"We're doing many different centuries of dance and how music (and culture) has influenced the form of dance," Dalen said.

But she hints that there's definitely a big surprise in store for the audience members, and even most of the dancers, who won't be let in on all of the secrets until the dress rehearsals.

A dedicated dance troupe - about 21 dancers - plays a significant role in the production, after all, they spend about five days a week at the studio. They're also the only ones who have been let in on the big secret, because their numbers are integral to maintaining the overarching theme.

"All the other dancers are eagerly anticipating the dress rehearsal so they can find out what the top secret is."

From a directorial perspective, it was definitely a challenge to fit the different genres together in a natural way.

"That was really fun, to kind of add a twist to their dance style, so that the kids are learning not only about a musical era, but still about their style of dance," Dalen said.

The theme is meant to add to the overall experience for everyone, both the audience and the dancers.

"Really, dance is about having a voice and it's about being an artist and communicating through your movements," Dalen explained. "So for the children to learn that they have a purpose through their movements and it's a story that they're telling just gives them so much more meaning behind their movements and their dance."

Dalen and the rest of the directorial team actually began developing the show's theme and storyline back in December, and have been working on it ever since, gradually incorporating each of their classes - everything from hip hop, jazz and ballet to tap, afro, and breakdance - into the production.

"You know, we definitely encourage them to work hard all year-round so they have something to showcase," she said with a laugh.

But knowing that friends, family and community members will be in the audience definitely helps raise the bar for the performers.

Now, almost 200 dancers - the entire school, from three-year-olds to adult students - are involved in the studio's fifth year-end show.

"We think it's going to be our best one yet," Dalen said.

While other studios may choose to hold regular recitals to show their dancers' accomplishments to family and friends, Soul Funktion has taken a more inclusive approach to a year-end performance, welcoming the entire community of Whistler to their annual show.

"We really can't call this a recital, because each year, we try to create something for the community that's more of a production and something that's entertaining and enjoyable for the community to come and watch, and that's really what our goal is," Dalen said. "At the same time that parents and family and friends get to see what their children have learned all year, we're also giving something to the community to come and see."

Aside from the obvious dancing that's set to enthrall the audience, there are also a range of other engaging aspects in store as part of the performance - costuming, music and video.

As an artistic director and choreographer, Dalen said that its quite exciting to see the entire school - all ages and disciplines - come together for one, united performance.

"It definitely brings the community together," she said. "It teaches me a lot of lessons, as well. It teaches a lot about communication, organization, working together and teamwork, and really those are the lessons that the kids and the families take away."

The studio has also enlisted the help of parents and supporters, who have been busily sewing almost 500 costumes, constructing props, and painting scenery for the big performance.

"It brings mommies and daughters together, it brings dads into play, because we need props made," she said. "Everybody is contributing."

Tickets went on sale on May 15 through Ticketmaster, but as of press time, there were still a few available. Come out to be part of the Soul Funktion experience this weekend.

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