Hannah Cam performs during the BC Annual Dance gala.

Cam headlines BC Annual Dance Competition gala

Where in the world can you find a circus, 1920s newspaper boys, Wal-Mart employees, hip-hop artists and cross-dressers?

Where in the world can you find a circus, 1920s newspaper boys, Wal-Mart employees, hip-hop artists, native Americans, cross-dressers, statues that come to life, mental institution inmates, mad geishas and dissolute Love Shack teens?

Just one place and it was in Prince Rupert’s backyard on Saturday night at the Lester Centre as the 25th B.C. Annual Dance Competition wrapped up with Gala Night 2014.

As a packed audience found out, it takes all kinds of kinds to win the prestigious cash awards, totalling to over $50,000, donated by various associations to the top five dance studios across the Northwest participating in the gala.

“It’s amazing how far you’ve all come in a week,” said adjudicator and teacher at Canada’s National Ballet School Gerard McIsaac.

“That doesn’t happen every time.”

Dancers from Prince Rupert (Dance Unlimited, E-Motion), Terrace (Contemporary Collective), Prince George (Performers North), Surrey (A-Company), Sherwood Park, Smithers and even Australia took part in the festivities, and Prince Rupert’s E-Motion cleaned up with four first-place group finishes on the night.

E-Motion captured top spots in Jazz Group 13-and-up for “Run”, Acrobatic Group for “Fire Cracker”, Lyrical Group for “Sweet Dream” and Novelty Group 12-and-under for “Carrying the Banner”, their old-timey news-delivering number.

Hot on E-Motion’s heels was Performers North with first-places in Musical Theatre Group for “Matilda Medley”, Classical Ballet Group for “Impromptu” and Song and Dance Group for “Love Shack”.

Surrey’s A-Company took bragging rights in Modern/Contemporary for “Experience”, Tap Group for “Putting on the Ritz”, and Hip-Hop Group for “A3G”.

Rounding out the winners were Dance Unlimited who took home top spot in Jazz Group 12-and-under with “Black and Gold”, and Novelty Group 13-and-up for “Spell Block Tango” while Contemporary Collective nabbed first place in Demi Character Group with their haunting “Child’s Play”.

Last year’s Junior and Senior Performers of the year, Lola Clare and Desiree Manning respectively, were on hand to pass the torch to 2014’s champions.

Prince George’s Brett Dobson claimed Junior Performer of the Year, with the dark-haired, pre-teen charmer taking home $1,000 in cash for his efforts.

Prince Rupert’s Hannah Cam was the highlight of the night from E-Motion and was a top-three finalist for Senior Performer of the Year, but fell to Surrey’s Natalie Smith. The gracious Rupertite applauded the nomination and wrapped both winner and fellow finalist in a giant embrace before Smith was announced winner. She’ll be off to the 2015 Australian Showcase with return airfare, hotel accommodations, entry fees and workshops like Manning before her.

Some memorable performances included E-Motion’s “Mad Geisha” with sorrowful melancholic elements like decaying make-up and slowly-unbridling hair for the dancers.

Cam led the way in “Turn mah Beat Up” in E-Motion’s enthusiastic and energetic foot-stomping  rendition.

The company’s parodic “Tribute to Wallmart” had audiences in stitches with the dancers’ signature blue employee vests and shopping cart props, and Contemporary Collective’s “Child’s Play” was hauntingly beautiful in its story of a small girl who finds a doll, but whose innocence and free will is taken by black-clad ballerina captors and assimilated into one of their own.

Amber Mackereth emceed the evening delightfully while Melynda DeRose-Small and Gilmer Duran joined McIsaac as adjudicators. Debra Sutherland and Jennifer Kloppers were co-presidents of the competition’s organizing association.