The BC Annual Dance Competition is returning for its 29th year, and it will be the biggest competition the city of Prince Rupert has seen to date.
This year, more than 390 dancers will be travelling to Prince Rupert to participate in the annual festival, including as 24-person contingent from Edmonton, a group that did not participate last year.
Teresa Mackareth, who helped to start the competition and is still one of its organizers, said having such a large and diverse lineup of teams will make for a better, more exciting competition.
“It’s great to have groups like Edmonton return this year,” said . “All the groups bring a huge variety of dance styles and a wide array of talent that just adds to the feel of the competition.”
As always, the festival will have large payouts available to its participants, with more than $60,000 in prize money handed out. Mackareth said this money is invaluable to helping young, aspiring dancers pursue their dreams. She said the idea of the competition at its inception was to help provide funding for dancers and artists that was not always readily available.
“Events like this are important ways for the students to raise money for their training,” she said. “It does a lot for the dancers and performers, particularly those in the northwest who may not have the same access or exposure as those in larger areas.”
Mackareth said there would be as many as 70 dancers on the stage at certain points, a melting pot of artistic ideas and expression. She added that in addition to the prize money available, the exposure dancers get at the festival is invaluable.
“Rupert Dancers have improved so much just from the exposure,” she said. “People get to meet others who have the same interests and grow from their time together.”
The festival will run from May 6-12, featuring solos and duets in every genre during the day and groups performing in every discipline in the evening. The gala will be on Saturday, May 12, featuring the top groups in each discipline who will be re-adjudicated by the competition’s panel.
Meet the Adjudicators
Adjudication this year will come from Ray Hogg, Samantha Schleese and Marisa Ricci, all of whom bring a wealth of dance experience with them to the competition stage.
Ray Hogg was trained in Ryerson University Theatre School’s Dance program, and began his dance career with the Danny Grossman Dance Company and the CORPUS dance projects as a soloist.
He eventually pursued musical theatre after moving to Germany where he took on numerous projects such as Plato/MacAvity in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, Kiss Me Kate, Jesus Christ Superstar, Dream Girls, Seussical, Evita and many others.
In addition to his output on stage, Hogg’s work as a director and choreographer has been seen across Canada on platforms such as the Shaw Festival, The Stratford Festival, the Betty Oliphant Theatre, the St. Lawrence Centre and the Rainbow Stage.
Hogg has also taught a variety of company and master classes. He is a senior faculty member at George Brown Dance where he teaches Jazz, Modern and Music Theatre Repertoire. He is also the artistic director of showcasing and interim administrator the commercial dance studies program. He also teaches open theatre jazz classes at Metro Movement in Toronto.
Samantha Schleese is a graduate of the University of Chicester where she completed her Masters Degree in performance dance with a specialization in contemporary dance. She has also completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts at York University where in addition to training in ballet and modern dance, she was a member of the school’s hip hop dance team “Stylewize.”
In 2015, Schleese co-founded her own contemporary dance company, SaMel Tanz, which just finished it’s third full-length show “The ‘F’ Word,” at the Toronto Fringe Festival. The group also performed this show again at the NextStage festival earlier this year.
Schleese also performs with an all femal hip hop crew, DEUCEnDip. The group has danced for companies such as Samsung, IOGO Roots, Mirror Awards, Bud Light Sensation, as well as performing at festivals such as National Dance Day, Unity and Pride Festival.
Schleese is also a teacher of competitive-level students at Dance Fusion, a studio in Toronto, and also works with the Travelling Stage Company, which provides workshops to schools in the Greater Toronto Area. She has adjudicated dance competitions for six years, having worked for such competitions as Embrace Dance Competition, Dancefest, Elite Dance Challenge, En pointe/Just Dance, Champions Dance, and more.
Marisa Ricci’s formal training is in classical ballet, but she is constantly working in many styles including, neo-classical, contemporary, commercial, jazz, musical theatre, Brazilian samba, burlesque, hip-hop and others.
Ricci has taught at the School of Cadence Ballet, Artist’s Play, Cardinal Carter Secondary School and Extravadance, and has been invited a number of times as a guest teacher and choreaographer at various dance school for productions and competitive numbers.
Tickets are available at the Lester Centre and Cook’s Jewellers. They are $25 for adults and $15 students 17-years-old and under.