Soul on stage 

Young Whistler dance studio presenting ambitious original production

What: The Sun Thief and The Cloud Queen — Elements of Love

Where: MY Millennium Place

When: June 14, 16 & 17

Tickets: $8/$13

Ah, youth. That feeling that you can accomplish anything. That the most impressive feats are yours to achieve.

Just shy of its first birthday, Soul Funktion Dance Studio is also Whistler’s youngest dance studio. But that hasn’t stopped founder/instructor Codi Dalen and her studio cohorts from eschewing the traditional year-end dance recital for a full-scale original dance theatre production.

The studio struts its stuff starting Tuesday night with a three-show run of The Sun Thief and The Cloud Queen – Elements of Love , a lyrical dance fantasy featuring approximately 200 Soul Funktion dancers, aged three to adult, and a talented group of auditioned principal performers.

The production is based on an original story by Whistler’s Linda McGaw, a ski instructor and mother of two Soul Funktion dancers, consulted for her past experience authoring nativity plays for the Whistler Village Church.

Inspired by the Greek myth of Persephone, fantasy epics such as Lord Of The Rings and the Welsh faerie tales of her youth, McGaw crafted a love story featuring a beautiful Cloud Queen who descends from her heavenly home to a Hades-like earth realm to reclaim the sun from a king who has stolen it.

Accompanied by her companions, the Cloud Queen’s journey includes an encounter with a terrifying sea serpent and the powerful Fire Witch who guards the gates to the underworld kingdom, which is rife with anarchy.

Despite the Earth king’s thieving ways the Cloud Queen shows compassion. Her kindness summons the Love Spirit, enamouring the star-crossed duo before the Cloud Queen returns to the kingdom of the air.

The production features various dance styles including ballet, tap, jazz, and lyric, as well as hip-hop and breakdancing–which pop up in the urban street-inspired Underworld scenes.

Several principal roles are in the talented hands of Soul Funktion instructors. Musical theatre teacher Nicole Fitzgerald is playing the Cloud Queen with ballet instructor Don Guthro, a former principal dancer with the National Ballet, portraying the King of the Underworld.

The open auditions also recruited several principal performers from outside the Soul Funktion stable. Pemberton-based rhythmic gymnastics instructor Jody Winstanley makes an appearance in the pivotal role of the Love Spirit, Rachel Steele is portraying the Fire Witch and martial arts/capoeira instructor Cole Manson is a special guest as the Captain Of The Underworld.

Overseeing it all is Dalen, assisted in directing and choreographing by Soul Funktion instructor Heather Stremlaw.

A dancer since the age of two, Dalen’s got the odd production under her belt, and can even claim a stint in the ultimate show town — that’s right baby, Las Vegas — where she worked as a dancer and for an event production company.

Still, she admits, she’s never done anything as big as this. And it’s shaping up to be one helluva calling card for the bold twentysomething studio owner.

A budget-boost from someone Dalen will only identify as an "anonymous benefactor" has upped the ante in terms of production values, which include stunning handmade costumes by local designer KLC Nash. And various community members have stepped up with prop loans and time and labour building sets and sewing.

"The people in Whistler are very unique from any other place I’ve lived," Dalen says. "There are so many talented people here willing to help.

"This is not just a Soul Funktion show anymore. There are people from all over the community. That’s the most amazing part."

The Sun Thief and the Cloud Queen was originally set to stage two performances Thursday, June 16 and Friday, June 17. However, due to overwhelming advance ticket sales Dalen has opened the dress rehearsal on Tuesday, June 14 as a third show with a discount ticket rate of $8. All performances take place at MY Millennium Place and start at 7 p.m.

For ticket information call 604-935-8410.

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