Okanagan Dance Studios is ready to send six Penticton dancers to compete for the top spot in the province at the end of the month.
The competition can be fierce, but also acts as an opportunity for the dancers to see what is happening in the rest of the province.
Flexibility, stamina and a strong mental game make dance as physical as any sport, and the interest across the province makes for a tough competitive field.
Sophia McNolty, 15, is going to the provincial competition, held this year in Fort St. John, for the first time and is performing in intermediate stage dance.
“You have to practice just as much as you do any other sport,” McNolty said. “Especially the numbers we’re going to perform on stage for the adjudicator to watch.”
McNolty is going to have some guidance from Claire Kincade, 15, as she is returning to provincials for the fourth time, this year performing in intermediate ballet.
“It’s an opportunity to see dancers from around B.C., it’s really inspiring,” Kincade said.
The dancers spend anywhere from five to seven days a week, three to four hours a day, practicing their routines. Kincade started dancing when she was three years old. She’s tried sports and other activities, but always came back to dance.
“I kind of got to an age where I had to pick one and dance was always my passion,” Kincade said. “I love the feeling of performing and it’s so rewarding, like when you get picked to go to provincials. Being on stage, the costumes, the make-up, it’s so much fun.”
Kincade enjoys the opportunity, getting outside of the sphere of Penticton dancers.
“It’s a bit overwhelming because there’s tons of talent there, but it’s so great to see what else is out there,” Kincade said.
Each dancer performs two routines for judges, performing once again if they make the final three. Perhaps more intense than the stage performance, the adjudication is an all-around analysis during the week-long process.
“It’s a process of classes where they are really looking at everyone, not just their technique, but their attitude in class, how they pick up choreography,” Kincade said.
Both dancers admit the prospect of an in-depth review is intense, but both are heading in with a positive attitude.
“When there is someone next to you who’s amazing you have to remember, hey, I’m here too, I got picked for a reason, they liked what they saw in me, maybe this adjudicator will feel the same,” McNolty said. “Maybe what I bring to the table is different than what she brings to the table, but they’re both equally good.”
Making the top three in provincial competition is the highest level that can be achieved in B.C., though there are opportunities to go back for different disciplines.
“I really hope that this process goes smoothly because it’s my first time and I’m a little nervous, but I just have to remember that I got picked for a reason and I hope to take away more knowledge from the other dancers and the teachers about the dance world,” McNolty said.
Both simply replied “yes” when asked if they were going to dance for as long as they can. Both hope to seek auditions for dance companies later in life.
A total of six dancers are heading to provincial competition from Penticton’s Okanagan Dance Studios including Kincade, McNolty, Faith Henderson (junior stage dance), Emma Hopley (intermediate modern dance), Nicola Hopley (intermediate stage dance) and Annabella Nordlund (intermediate modern dance).
The Performing Arts BC provincial festival take place in Fort St. John from May 31 to June 4.