A pair of teenage dancers from Spud Valley have taken the next step in their competitive pathways.
Back in July, Pemberton Dance Studio's Ashanti Faith Salio-An travelled to Monterrey, Mexico to take part in the IDO World Acrobatic Dance Championship. Janae Ibbotson-Spencer represented Pemberton's Mountain Movement Dance Collective late this October at another IDO event, the World Hip Hop & Popping Championships in Kielce, Poland.
Salio-An had to wait for her moment. She first auditioned for Team Canada in 2020, but found herself sidelined with the rest of us as the pandemic took hold. The 13-year-old and her peers made sure to stay active and connected, knowing their opportunity would come.
Their patience and work ethic paid off.
“I think it's better that we had more time to train and to perfect those dances,” says Salio-An. “[Worlds] was very life-changing. I made so many friends, so many memories, and the dances were amazing there. It was just an amazing experience that I'll never forget.
“I'm very pleased [with my performance]. There were so many people watching, so I really had to just keep it together.”
Though she didn’t have to deal with COVID-mandated lockdowns, Ibbotson-Spencer worked just as hard to prepare for her own international debut.
“I transformed my garage into my own dance studio to be practising, and I’ve just been trying to grow my stamina because for these competitions—especially the hip hop—you have to be going every 20 minutes if you make it through a round,” explains the 15-year-old.
“I think it's exciting for them to just get out there, see the world, see a bigger pond of fish, do what they love and grow from these experiences,” adds Anna Kroupina, Salio-An’s teacher and the owner of Pemberton Dance Studio. “It’s wonderful that they have the means to do so, because trips like that are something that families really have to plan for. That being said, we're so grateful.”
Going for it
Both girls were introduced to dance by way of ballet classes their parents enrolled them in as toddlers. It didn’t take long for Salio-An to realize she preferred cartwheels to pirouettes, and her mom placed her in acro when she was seven. She’s loved being upside-down ever since.
Ibbotson-Spencer joined a competitive team around the same age, and though she’s dabbled in many genres of dance, hip hop became her true passion. Her worlds squad in Poland is composed of 21 dancers from across British Columbia and Alberta, and she’s proud to put Pemberton on the map.
“It's really crazy, especially us from this small town—from nowhere, basically—to make this big dance team,” Ibbotson-Spencer says. “We need to go for it to prove that we’re good as we got chosen for. I think everybody’s really supportive of each other.”
Kroupina herself is a living example of what opportunity can do. She grew up behind the Iron Curtain, training from age three under traditional Russian ballerinas and mentors. After immigrating to Canada in 2007, she expanded her portfolio as an International Dance Teaching Standards accredited coach, a member of the Vancouver Ballet Society and a registered acrodance teacher.
Now in her second decade as an educator and her fourth as a dancer, Kroupina aims to give her students as many opportunities as possible. That’s a goal she shares with Hayley Edmondson, who coaches at Mountain Movement Dance Collective.
Salio-An, Ibbotson-Spencer and Kroupina would like to thank members of the Spud Valley community for their continued support, including the Pemberton Lions Club and local businesses such as The Beer Farmers.