Dancing together, as One 

Become One is Whistler’s new dance troupe

Whistler has some decent musicians, sure. It has visual artists - and some mighty fine ones at that. But when it comes to street performance art, the town could do with more. There are few storytellers, no mimes (if anyone cares), and for a long time, no street dancers until the Vibe Dance Centre began to Flash Mob.

Now a new troupe has landed - Become One is a troupe of five dancers with varied experience that can do, well, just about anything.

"We work around different sorts of styles, whether (people) want big dance production or if they want something a little different. We're trying to mold into what people want here," says Become One founder Michelle Klekner.

They have two upcoming gigs, one at the Multicultural Festival on Monday (June 27) and another at the ArtWalk opening reception on Thursday (June 30). The reception will include a variety of street performers, musicians and visual artists while Become One takes on a series of individual dances in various styles at locations throughout the village.

Anybody who's strolled through New York's Washington Square on a Saturday knows that public dance routines are popular, mighty popular. Crowds will stop to watch, maybe even join in the dancing themselves, jiving to the beat of whatever music is being played. It's a common sight in tourist hotspots in cities around the world.

Klekner, an instructor at Vibe Dance Centre, put a Facebook call out to dancers earlier this year in order to compete in the Freeze Dance Competition at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival. She ended up with Kelly Lau, a breakdancer from New Zealand, who does freestyle dance gigs at Tommy Africa's; Emile Sanchez, a Latin dance specialist from the Dominican Republic who teaches open classes at Fruv Freedomwear; Jessie McDonald, from Ontario and trained in jazz, ballet and hip-hop; and Alix Arcalean, a ballet-trained dancer born and raised in Whistler.

"We just kind of met up," Klekner says. "We were really excited just to be dancing. Any opportunity to get up on stage to perform and entertain, for any one of us, is our passion so it's a really exciting thing."

But first, they needed a name.

"We didn't want to do something corny or silly or anything," Klekner says. "We thought, well, we're all from everywhere else, this is the first time we're getting together, we thought of words like merge or fusion."

They eventually settled on Become One - a group of individuals with varying expertise and homelands, combining into one force of dance fanaticism and celebration.

With the name settled, they had a only week and a half of rehearsal time before that first performance. They rehearsed every day, for as long as possible as much as they could, with everyone contributing to the routine's formation, They hit a few snags along the way - for one, Latin dancers aren't trained in hip-hop choreography, nor are breakdancers trained with choreography at all.

"We had to pass on our skills to each other and train one another while we were learning the routine," she says. "But once it all came together it was cool to see our different skills passed on to each other and put together for a big performance."

The performance was a relative success, though the members agree it could have been better with a few extra weeks of practice. But they had fun doing it. Everyone gelled and, well, they're sticking together....as One.



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