From last year’s Steps Ahead presentation of the Cinderella story. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen file)

Lexi Bainas column: Dance, dance, dance your way to the nearest theatre to celebrate Valley’s young talent

With every studio winding up its year soon, look for a tasty menu of great performances

Dance show season is upon us, my friends!

The Cowichan Valley’s dance studios, big and small, with students from toddlers to polished performers at close-to-professional level, are readying their year-end extravaganzas.

Almost every available space these days is filled with young dancers, all leaping, sashaying, and stepping, each one desperately thinking about their big day on stage. They’ve been working all year, often in many disciplines and classes, to perfect their technique and boost their teamwork.

The dancers’ costumes, that have either been purchased or sewn by enthusiastic volunteers, are always amazing. Cost doesn’t matter. Some groups can afford astonishing outlays for totally colour coordinated outfits that will probably never be worn again, while others re-use or re-purpose their stock of show clothing year after year. What is important is that showtime is the dancers’ big moment, and everyone is working hard to see they look their best.

It never ceases to warm my heart to see the way our Valley dance teachers put their backs into trying to find new ways to showcase their students, adapting to changing times and styles. There’s always at least one theme to every show: a framework on which to hang the different numbers, and these, too, are carefully chosen to best showcase what the students can do.

This not only adds variety for the instructors but the students, too. Many of them, once hooked on dance, are in it for all of their undergraduate years. And, with the increasing popularity of musical theatre these days, there are even more opportunities for Valley young people to enjoy the performing arts.

Their onstage experience also gives the students assets they can take into adulthood: increased poise in front of a crowd, the ability to work in a team environment, a capacity for hard work, and that extra grit it takes to fight through pain and problems will serve them well.

And now, I urge all of you reading to get out of your chairs and attend one of these shows. You may even find yourself sashaying out of the theatre after the event, and why not? There are adult classes in plenty these days.

***

Imagine That! in downtown Duncan is featuring artist Jennifer Lawson during May.

Her paintings can be viewed in the front window until May 31. The gallery is located at 251 Craig St. and is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In a note she sent along, Lawson says, “I’ll be doing live demos this summer again during the 39 Days of July festival in downtown Duncan, where I’ll have my easel set up at the Charles Hoey Park. Visit me on my Jennifer Lawson Painter page on Facebook, where I’ll post the dates you can find me there. Do come by to see what I’m working on and for a chat, I’d love to see you!”

And that means all of us.

***

Digital artist Julie Nygaard is showing her manipulated photography at Excellent Frameworks in Duncan from now until May 31.

They have 19 of her photographs available for viewing and on Saturday, May 25 from noon to 3 p.m. Nygaard will be in attendance to share her journey as an artist and talk to you about her work.

Everyone is welcome, and refreshments are offered.

If you don’t know Excellent Frameworks, it’s located at 28 Station St. in downtown Duncan. The business is also the home of the E. J. Hughes Gallery, and I was totally astonished to discover one day that a mural has been painted on the side of the building, high above the street: a copy of my own photograph of E. J. Hughes from that never-to-be-forgotten day that I sat with him for an afternoon.

So, if you see the picture of the Valley’s most famous painter on the wall, you know you’ve come to the right place to see Nygaard’s magic for yourself.

***

While you’re on Station Street, you may have wondered what’s happened to the piano that always stood outside the Duncan Showroom. Street entertainer Harry Hull would often perform on it.

According to the Showroom’s Longevity John Falkner, “this particular piano has been moved to the rear of the building as it is starting to take on a decrepit look as opposed to a nice somewhat vibrant piece of machinery.”

Watch this space for any news about a replacement.

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