A&E » Arts

MY Place for the arts



As a centre for dance, theatre, audio and visual recording, Millennium Place may help Whistler mature as a community

Maurice Young Millennium Place is just a few weeks from completion, and Whistler’s arts community is anxiously awaiting the ribbon-cutting.

A project that originally started as a meeting place for religious faiths has blossomed to include state of the art audio and video recording facilities as well as a theatre and dance rehearsal space. All three are firsts for our sports-based town, and could prove to be the outlet needed to start filling the cultural gaps in Whistler. And more than that, it may be the spark needed to light a fire under the feet – and imagination – of many artists-in-the-making.

"I can’t believe how many people have approached me," exclaims Trina Eby, director of Whistler’s newly-formed Whistler Dance Society. "Even just the other day I was sitting in a restaurant and the waitress overheard me talking and it turns out she’s had many years of formal training and has danced professionally."

Already more than 50 people have come forward to volunteer on the Whistler Dance Society Committee, with many more anxious to sign on to the society’s dance classes and programs, which include break dancing, jazz, ballet, funk and hip hop, recreational dance and pilates. Registration forms are already available from MY Place offices and classes are set to start next week.

Eby has ensured the extensive variety of dance courses are suitable for all age ranges and abilities. Those interested will be able to pay a one-time drop-in fee, purchase a card to be used for multiple drop-ins, or register to be part of a more structured three or four week course.

Eby says she has had no trouble finding instructors. She is a teacher herself, as well as a director and choreographer and has danced with companies around the world. She’s joined by highly-qualified instructors: Peggy Croney, Michelle Fulford, Carlee Howell, Nanci Potten, Tami Ross and Shawne Rothwell, some of whom have better than 20 years experience.

Finding space had been the snag in Eby’s vision, and she smiles when she speaks of watching construction progress on the MY Place theatre. One has to bear in mind that the theatre is a multi-purpose space, to be used for such functions as religious worship and conferences. It may prove technically challenging for high end productions, but in terms of the dance society, it will be tremendously accommodating.

"The theatre is fantastic, but for very specific purposes," says Eby. "It’s rare that you can have theatre space that can be stripped right down to nothing, so in some respects it’s a very post-modern concept. But obviously it will mean having very low technical requirements. You can’t fly anything for example, but the lighting should be quite good. It has a lot of potential."