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More high-flying spectacle

Soul Funktion show sells out weeks in advance thanks to the studio continuing to raise the bar on dance

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By Nicole Fitzgerald

What: Young at Heart

When: June 8-10

Where: MY Millennium Place

Tickets: SOLD OUT

Sunday was a rare sunny summer day with most youth taking advantage of the warm temperatures on the mountains or at the lake.

However, 44 Whistler youth chose to forgo the summer day, sweating it out at the Soul Funktion Dance Studio in rehearsals for Young at Heart, showing June 8 to 10 at MY Millennium Place.

While a single fan made a futile attempt to cool off the dancers, there were no complaints as they flipped, turned and folded into an acro (acrobatic) number. This professional attitude and dedication to their craft was recently illustrated in the competitive team’s string of first place finishes in various Vancouver dance competitions last month.

The introduction of acro to the team’s already full schedule of ballet, jazz, lyrical, tap and hip hop classes also played a role in the team’s success. This was the first year the class was offered at the Function Junction studio.

In the acro number, girls soared through the air, balanced on their heads and folded into positions that would leave most of the population hobbling around for days. While acro is rarely offered in B.C. dance studios, because of the difficulty of finding a dance instructor who is also formally trained as a gymnast, Whistler is fortunate to have the talents of choreographer and instructor Heather Stremlaw.

Acro is just one more step Soul Funktion is taking in raising the bar in dance in Whistler, giving local youth the opportunity to not only become world-class athletes, but also professional dancers.

“Acro enables dancers to add some tricks to the competitive numbers,” studio founder Codi Dalen said. “It works on flexibility of the core as well as the legs.”

Whistler audiences will have the chance to experience the competitive team’s jaw-dropping, award-winning numbers at the year-end show, which is already sold out. Soul Funktion’s spectacle of dance, drama and production is no longer a secret, and the shows sell out weeks in advance every year.

This year’s production visits childhood’s happiest places, with more than 200 dancers taking to the stage. Audiences will stumble across alligators and bumblebees at a teddy bear’s picnic, then venture to a seaside carnival, then play among lions, clowns and acrobats at the circus.

“There is a wider range of talent this year,” Dalen said. “We tried to incorporate special skills and talents, not only of our dancers, but the community as well.”

Sports such as basketball will be elevated to a visual art form and guest dancers from Ontario will introduce partner work to the stage.

“They include three male dancers who will be running partner workshops and hopefully be mentors for our young boys,” Dalen said.

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