Shannon Cote (left) and Traci Bourne are ready to see Okanagan Dance Studios’ show group’s production In My Life on the stage after months of rehearsals. This year’s performance is an artistic storytelling about a girl learning about her grandmother’s life, set to Beatles cover songs. Jordyn Thomson/Western News

Penticton dancers take the stage for In My Life

Okanagan Dance Studios’ show group production an artistic telling of stories to Beatles cover songs

Okanagan Dance Studios is gearing up to present their show group’s production titled In My Life at the Cleland Community Theatre on Nov. 23 and 24.

The performance, choreographed to Beatles cover songs, will feature over 50 dancers from ages 7 to 50-plus. Traci Bourne, Okanagan Dance Studios owner and director, said it is no easy feat bringing this production to life.

“We started getting the choreography set for all the different age groups, and then it was a lot of work piecing it all together to make the storyline come through on stage,” said Bourne.

Both Bourne and her choreographer, Shannon Cote, agree that before they began putting the show together, they wanted to use Beatles music. They both like running this non-profit show group because it’s an opportunity to take a break from competitive dance.

“We typically get caught up doing competitive dance for most of our year. So we put our heads together and wanted to come up with something more artistic and storytelling,” said Cote.

In My Life is an artistic retelling of stories that show the journey of a young girl learning about her grandmother’s life.

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“It blurs the lines between past and present and kind of mixes the worlds,” said Cote. “It’s just sort of life stories, and I have some personal connections to some of the ideas but it came together very naturally.”

Because the performance features a broad age range and many dancers, it is not uncommon for the older students to help the younger ones learn their steps.

“It’s really important to be the leaders as seniors, so we’ve really stepped up to know our choreography, know our placing, so we can help the younger dancers and make them feel comfortable so we can all have a great time,” said Grade 12 student Annabella Nordlund, one of the senior dancers in the production.

“It’s nice to be able to guide the younger ones in the right direction and be good role models for them. If they are need of help, we can help them out,” said Nicola Hopley, another Grade 12 student who is a senior in the show.

Cote said it’s great to see everyone pitching in to make sure the performance is seamless. Many of the dancers perform in other competitive groups, on top of their studies, which means a lot of hours in the studio throughout the week.

“Seeing those older girls, who are about to graduate, work with the younger dancers – it’s about becoming one. It’s not about senior, intermediate and juniors,” said Cote. “Seeing them rise to the occasion, it’s a lot of hard work and long hours. It’s preparing them for more than just dancing. It’s about time management and being organized.”

“It’s a confidence booster for sure, and the support they get from their peers really helps them grow as dancers and as people,” said Bourne.

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Overall, both Bourne and Cote are pleased with how the show has come together. They and their crew have been working tirelessly on this project since August, which is a “quick timeline,” Bourne noted.

“The main reason we choose to do this show is to teach our dancers that the competitive world isn’t the real world once they move on, if they want to continue their dance careers,” said Bourne. “This is more ‘real life’ type of work, and the pressure is not there to win or get a gold medal. It’s to put on a really great show.”

Cote and Bourne say the show is for everyone, not just people familiar with dance, because of the story being told.

“It’s going to be very entertaining for all types of people that like all kinds of shows,” said Bourne.

“We want people to understand it’s not a dance recital — that’s different. This is a story that happens to be told through dance movement. But the Beatles cover music is so good just by itself, even if you don’t know anything about dancing the music and lighting will be phenomenal,” said Cote. “And you might even be into dancing after this show.”

Bourne and Cote want to thank the dancers and their parents for their ongoing support. In My Life will be taking the stage at the Cleland Community Theatre on Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. and on Nov. 24 at 2 p.m. and again at 7 p.m.

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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter


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