Jardim, Jackson big winners at 2017 B.C. Annual Dance Competition

Saturday gala featured 300 dancers performing in ballet, hip hop numbers and more

Prince Rupert talent took the B.C. Annual Dance Competition by storm with several performer of the year nods from judges.

After a chaotic, but inspiring week full of solos, duets and group performances, two young Rupert dancers have taken home a collective $3,000 due to their incredible talent and hard work.

Gillian Jardim claimed the Senior Canadian Performer of the Year 13-18 award on Saturday night, while Taylor Jackson won the Junior Canadian Performer of the Year 9-12 honour.

Jardim takes home $2,000 and Jackson brings $1,000 back thanks to category sponsors Rotary Club of Prince Rupert, Port of Prince Rupert and Jazz Productions Association of B.C.

In what was billed as a more intimate and personal week, with dancers coming from only Prince Rupert, Terrace, Quesnel and Surrey, and three studios from Prince Rupert and Terrace participating, Saturday night’s gala was smaller in scope but had a powerful dose of rockstar-level electricity and action.

Performers delighted audiences with beautiful and serene ballet, demi-character, contemporary and lyrical numbers like Dance Unlimited’s ‘Garden of Eden,’ Contemporary Collective’s ‘Washed not Wasted’ and E-Motion’s ‘Vivaloi.’

It was the modern/contemporary category that thrilled adjudicator Ronda Nychka throughout the week.

“There’s a lot of talent coming out of [the northwest] … The contemporary I find to be really strong,” she said Saturday.

Dancers also got toes tapping with jazz and tap group pieces such as Contemporary Collective’s ‘Love Shack’ and E-Motion’s ‘Let’s Nacho’ and ‘Certainly.’

Probably the most heart-pounding and attitude-filled numbers came from the acro and hip hop group performances, with E-Motion’s ‘White Out’ and ‘Formation’ starting off the gala with a bang (and channeling Beyonce), and Dance Unlimited’s ‘Runnin’’ and ‘Peace Love Hustlin’’ giving the sound speakers a workout.

The performers’ pipes were tested as well when they belted out the popular RENT theme of ‘Seasons of Love,’ performed by Dance Unlimited, and E-Motion’s ‘Medley from Hamilton.’ The dancers’ conditioning and the fruits of their training were on full display, not losing their breath, or a beat, during the song and dance numbers.

“Amazing talent. I see incredible talent on the stage,” said Nychka.

“I think what we’re going to see tonight is a lot of dancers really enjoying themselves and not worrying about marks or stress or technique, and just enjoying the core dancing.”

Adjudicator Brett Taylor mentioned that he’s glad to be back in Prince Rupert after hitting the stage himself as a participant years ago.

“I was actually a competitor in this competition back in 2004, so it’s really exciting to be back and be on the other side. It feels full circle, but it’s also very cool to see how the festival’s progressed and evolved,” he said, adding the musical theatre numbers have been his favourite.

Twenty-six year board member and enthusiastic volunteer Christine Evans won the Mary Lester Service Award for her volunteer efforts. Evans, an athlete instead of a traditional dancer, started on the board intending to stay for one year, but she became a part of the fabric of the competition, organizing the sound booth backstage and directing floor managers and helpers.

Top three finalists for the senior performer award included Jardim, Prince Rupert’s Bailey Rae and Terrace’s Sarah Jepsen. In the junior performer top three, Jackson joined Terrace’s Brynn Wolfe and Rupert’s Nolan Robinson.

Overall, $55,000 was handed out to worthy dancers in the 300-participant competition.

Jennifer Kloppers emceed the evening and next year’s competition, produced by the Jazz Productions Association of BC, could spell the return of studios from Prince George and Campbell River.