Mountain Movement dancers leave comfort zone to compete 

Pemberton studio's students set to wrap up second season of competition

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Making Moves Mountain Movement Dance Collective sent dancers to the Lower Mainland to compete this year.
  • Photo submitted
  • Making Moves Mountain Movement Dance Collective sent dancers to the Lower Mainland to compete this year.

Hayley Edmondson found inspiration to open the Mountain Movement Dance Collective in an unlikely place.

"Mountain Movement was conceptualized when I was walking in downtown Pemberton ... and I saw a lot of little girls riding their bikes in tutus," she recalls. "I said, 'I wonder if there's a dance studio for kids here?' There were classes at the community centre, but no dance studio. That sparked the idea."

Edmondson grew up dancing competitively in the Fraser Valley. As a result, she had a strong grasp on the art of dance and how to teach it, but she wanted to learn more about how to run a business.

So, before launching her studio, she took business classes at the University of Victoria. She moved back to Pemberton in 2016, found a space, renovated it and opened her doors to host three classes in 2017.

While she started out offering recreational dance classes—from jazz to tap, hip hop to lyrical—in September 2017, she added a competitive level of dance as well.

"We're in such an art bubble up in Pemberton and Whistler where it's a mecca for sports and a central hub for all things outdoors," she says. "For youth dancers, the best way to get out there and get exposed is youth dance competitions. I grew up in the Fraser Valley and I found that (dance competitions) were such a positive environment ... I just always knew to grow these dancers to be the athletes they can be capable of we'd need to get out of the bubble and competition was the best way I could think of to do that."

The competitive dancers train for 12 hours a week, including a day of strength work. To that end, the program is for dedicated dancers—and that hard work is already starting to pay off, Edmondson says.

"One thing that's so important—and why everybody should take dance—is in this day and age of instant, it's not instant at all," she adds. "It takes a really long time. Everyone wanted it to be seasonal; they wanted to sign up for three months at a time and you just can't."

They deepened their understanding of that commitment earlier this month when they travelled to Surrey for the Synergy dance competition. "I specifically chose that competition to bring our dancers to mainly because of the venue," Edmondson says. "It was the Bell (Performing Arts) Centre ... this theatre is so gorgeous, it was amazing dancing there. You really felt like you were a real performer being up there—with the wings, backstage area, and dressing room."

While they earned a couple of third-place finishes, Edmondson says that was a small part of the experience. As dancers with just two to three years under their belts, they were up against competitors who have been training for much longer. "The second reason I wanted to go was it was the best of the best that go to that competition. While we aren't quite on that level yet, it, for me, is all about getting us out of our bubble and getting us to see what it means to be a hardcore, competitive dancer. It was a big eye opener for us. They did fantastically, even dancing on a stage like that."

Next up, the group is heading to Burnaby for the Star Talent Dance Competition before wrapping up their season at home in Whistler on the May long weekend with two dance competitions that quietly take place at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler and the Westin Resort and Spa.

Overall, Edmondson says, it has been a fulfilling second year for the studio. "I hope they continue dancing and competing and, as they see their improvement on the competitive circuit, it keeps them hungry," she says.

For more information on the dance studio's recreational and competitive classes, visit mountainmovement.ca.

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