Showing up at the Vibe Dance Centre in Function Junction, the place is bustling with children.
It's a nice day, so co-director Jeremy Thom is with his 15-or-so guitar students rehearsing outside. The parking lot is full of cars as parents either drop off or pick up dancers being taught by Thom's wife, Heather, inside their studio.
The heat is on and not just outside. The Thoms and the children are practicing for their fourth year-end show.
Small Town Secrets is an original production, just like all their shows, says Jeremy in an interview after the young musicians leave.
"We've already had people coming up to us and saying, 'Small Town Secrets... is it about Whistler?' But no, it's not. It's about a small town called Prim-and-Properville," Jeremy says. "The plot's got some twists and surprises, with a happy ending."
He says Prim-And-Properville is filled with poised and polite people, "and we find out some secrets," but he doesn't want to say much more in order to avoid giving the story away.
"This is our main show, our annual production. Heather and I have been working on it for about a year. We come up with the ideas in the summer and January or February is when it all comes together," Jeremy says.
Small Town Secrets takes place on Saturday, June 14, at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 15, at 1:30 p.m., at the Whistler Conference Centre. Tickets are $25 for adults, and $15 for children (12 and under), and are available at the dance centre, at the Whistler Eye Clinic and at the door.
All of the Thoms' 140 students will perform, with the Vibe Tribe performance team, other performers and guitar students taking turns.
"We've got musical theatre classes, which is singing and dancing," said Thom. "There's a lot of acting, we come up with all the dialogue. There's narration as well. It's a full play with dance — a great family event."
The centre also offers a smaller winter show with just the Vibe Tribe performing.
"We learn new things at the beginning of the year so that it's a build-up to now. It's a slow learning curve during the year, but then it all piles up and turns into this big spectacle," says 18-year-old Maye Akama, a student at Whistler Secondary School.
Says Erin Wilson, 12, "We've been practicing two or three months, constantly. It's coming together. I find it slow but as it gets closer to the end of the year, we start picking things up faster and realizing what the show is about. We get more of an idea of how we are supposed to do our dances."
Wilson, Akama and many of the other dancers practice every day in the run-up to the show, about four hours per night. The youngsters performing range in age from three to 18.
Wilson has been dancing, on and off, since she was four.
"When I was young, my parents made me ski, so I've been skiing since I was about two. But because I've been dancing so much more than I've been skiing, I don't really like skiing anymore," she says with a shy smile. "Now I prefer to be dancing."
Akama has danced for nine years, and this is her last with Vibe Dance Centre.
"I've built up this big passion for dance that nothing else competes with," Akama says. "Dance is a good way to express anything."
Wilson adds that she thinks Small Town Secrets will be one of the best shows yet.
Akama says: "There's always a bit of mystery in the show, even for us. There are these little things in the shows that we don't know about. We know what the story is, but there's always a surprise, which is quite fun."
For more information visit www.thevibedancecentre.com.
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