This year the annual end-of-year show by Whistler dance and music studio The Vibe Dance Centre has an environmental feel.
Dozens of young dancers float around the Function Junction studio space, learning their parts, getting to grips with the story — and dancing their hearts out.
Paradise Found is a story told by Mother Nature, says co-creator Jeremy Thom.
"It's about protecting and preserving our air, land and water — and about living in harmony," he says.
"It takes place on Earth but not in a place that anyone has heard of."
The original production was created and choreographed by his wife Heather, artistic director and primary dance instructor at the studio.
It is the Vibe Centre's fifth anniversary, and Thom says their dancers have worked hard to get to this point.
"We're more organized every year and that gets better and better," he says.
"We enjoy the creative part of making the shows and it just seems to come together. It's always a great experience for the kids and the audience. A lot of extended family from out of town come to see the show."
He says his own original music is normally part of the night, but after breaking his wrist skateboarding several weeks ago, Thom was unable to teach his guitar students the piece.
"Instead, we spent a lot time sourcing the music we are using and every (song) has a message and meaning. The lyrics fit into the show," he says.
Thom adds that there is a universal message in Paradise Found.
"We want to encourage people to think about this because nowadays governments and corporations don't seem to care enough about longevity and sustainability. Our hope is to encourage people to think about it," he says.
Talking to three of the young dancers, who are in the middle of seven days a week of practices, the commitment shines through.
Olivia Hutchinson, 12, is in eight dances. She came back to the Vibe Dance Centre after a year off and says she "has really committed" to dance.
"We started choreography about three weeks ago. We practice a lot. Maybe six hours a day on the weekends to maybe three hours, depending on how many dances you do," she says.
She says she is learning something new at each rehearsal. She says she's like to take it further."I just want to keep doing it," she smiles.
Megan Moody, 18, is doing nine dances. She has been dancing since she was three.
"It's an intensive few weeks. The theme of the show is always a secret, so we can't say a lot about it," Moody says.
"My parents don't even know what's in it. Then when we do it, it's kind of like a cool surprise. I think the show is the best one yet; everyone should go to it."
She says Heather Thom has known her "forever."
"Dance has been my world since I can remember. I've been obsessed with it forever," she says.
"It's my last year, I'm travelling to England next year and so it's a little sad. And they have dance over there, too."
The music in Paradise Found has helped the dancers reach into themselves to express the story, Moody says.
"It helps you express what you need to say," she says.
Michaela Shrimpton, 18, has also been dancing since the age of three.
"I've had a long relationship with the studio and with everyone. We're like a big family here," she says.
Asked what dance means to her, Shrimpton sighs.
"Dance means everything to me. It's my last year here and I'm really sad to be leaving but excited for the future. I know I'll always dance because it's such a big part of my life. It's hard to put into words what it means," she says.
All the dancers have been asked to write about what dancing has meant to them and their heartfelt words will be on display at the performance.
Paradise Found takes place at the Whistler Conference Centre on Saturday, June 20 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, June 21 at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children and can be purchased at the door or at the centre (call first to arrange at 604-966-8423). There is also a cash bar. For more information visit www.thevibedancecentre.com.
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