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Stepping behind the magic of dance

Soul Funktion Dance Studio presents The Spirit of the Dance, an extravaganza of music, dance and spectacle

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What: Spirit of the Dance: Embrace the Magic

When: June 9-11

Where: MY Millennium Place

Tickets: $17/$10

Swish, swish goes the broom of a shopkeeper in a rehearsal for Soul Funktion Dance Studio’s upcoming production of The Spirit of the Dance: Embrace the Magic June 9, 10 and 11 at MY Millennium Place.

A brush hits a paint can with a ding, two toasted glasses add a cling while all the while the broom continues a rhythmic sweep. The sounds of the street come alive in the scene, accompanying dancers’ movements and illustrating one of the show’s central themes: dance and music extend beyond a studio, a ballet bar or an isolated step. The practice is rooted in life’s spirit; something studio owner Codi Dalen helps students discover and share, coming to a pinnacle with the studio’s year-end production.

"Dance is more than just steps, it is all around us," Dalen says from the Function Junction studio in the throws of both show and competition rehearsals.

The Stomp-inspired street scene, where everyday items are turned into an urban symphony, is only one of the many innovative, cutting-edge theatrics Dalen brings to the 250-plus-cast extravaganza.

Like so many who walked through the doors of Whistler’s only dance studio, Spirit of the Dance follows the tale of a little girl’s desire to become a dancer. Through the guidance of the Spirit of the Dance, she explores the artists’ path from studio to street. By way of her imagination, she further uncovers the limitless possibilities dance affords, traveling into the depths of the sea with lobsters and sea turtles, and even outer space with break dancing aliens and stars to wish upon.

"Her imagination opens up even more possibilities to what she can do," Dalen says.

Dalen, who performed in countless Las-Vegas shows, knows how to keep a crowd entertained, keeping the show vibrant, full of surprises and packed with jaw-dropping choreography – particularly the numbers from the studio’s competitive dance team.

With choreographer Heather Stremlaw – whose credits include the Aaron Carter U.S. tour and Michael Jackson’s 30th Anniversary Show – at Dalen’s side, the show wields award-winning lyrical, jazz, tap and hip hop numbers from competitive dancers who won regional competitions. Prepare to be blown away by the incredible talent, skill and passion students exhibit, raising the bar on standard dance events.

It doesn’t matter whether dancers danced for years or for the first year; every dancer brings something unique to the stage. Whether ahhing at the excitement of bubbling tykes or cheering on the award-winning adult tappers, the tightly paced, diverse playbill entertains audiences on multiple levels thanks to the hard work of instructors Dalen, Stemlaw, Krista Hoffs, Aaron Webb and Melissa Bachert.

The larger-than-life production showcases the artwork of seamstress Cary Campbell Lopes, who at times transforms dancers into cartoon-like characters, including everything from monsters, sharks and jelly fish to unicorns and fairies.

"There are a lot of exciting costumes that we have taken a lot of time with this year," Dalen said. "People will walk away from the show amazed and excited."

The Spirit of the Dance opens with a scene that foreshadows a sentiment many audience members will walk away with after the cast bows and the stage fades to black. Lights come up on a scene of dancers warming up. They take their places for a show. The audience sees only the back of the performers. The front of the stage is reversed and instead of watching the show, the audience is observing a little girl mesmerized by the dancers in front of her. The beautiful forms twirl, leap and inspire. She wants to be one of them. She wants to dance, a dream Dalen continues to inspire in youth to further build Whistler’s growing dance community.

Spirit of the Dance shows June 9 at 7 p.m., June 10 at 2 and 7 p.m. and June 11 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $17 for adults and $10 for children. Tickets are available via Ticketmaster or by calling MY Place at 604-935-8410. Last year’s run sold out well in advance, including the dance rehearsal, so pick up tickets early.

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