Young dancers from Prince Rupert’s Spectrum Dance Studio got to learn from some of the most accomplished performers in one of the world’s most iconic productions.
Thirteen dancers, along with four chaperones from the academy, took a trip to Las Vegas from July 17 – 21 to watch a series of Cirque du Soleil shows including its performance-focused production Michael Jackson One. The group was also able to take lessons from and rehearse with some of the show’s lead performers.
Alison Sherman, an instructor at the studio who accompanied the group, said the group watched shows and took classes every day of their trip. They received two ballet classes, two lyrical and contemporary dance classes and one tap-dance class.
“It was a wonderful, once in a lifetime experience,” Sherman said. “To be there and learn from those professionals is not something we’re ever going to forget.”
Sandy Croft, an artistic director of the Cirque du Soleil productions, invited the academy students to go to Vegas.
In addition to the shows and rehearsals Croft, who is a friend of Spectrum studio owner Ella Furland, made arrangements for the group to have backstage access before and after each performance.
Sherman said having a behind the scenes look at how the shows worked helped the students appreciate the performances even more than before.
“Because we had met the performers earlier that day, it was all the more exciting to pick them out and see them dance,” she said.
Sherman said the most profound and lasting impact from the trip was the personal advice each of the students got from professionals they look up to. She said a lot of her students had questions about how the Cirque du Soleil dancers got to their current positions and what their backgrounds were.
Sherman said some of the performers said they started out as small town competition dancers, and were able to make it as far as they did because they persisted and did not give up on their goals or dreams.
“They basically made it known to them that you could be here if you wanted to be and it’s possible, so that was really neat,” Sherman said. “That really hit home for them because that’s what they are here. They are small town competition dancers, and I think that makes it a little more realistic for them.”