Heather Thom has been working 16-hour days.
Well, she's been working more than that, if you consider all the time spent pondering and reconsidering the final touches of the VIBE Dance Centre's upcoming year-end spectacle, Ordinary Miracles. The 16-hour days are merely what she's putting in at the studio. And no, it's nothing out of the ordinary.
She'll have it no other way, you see. Anyone who's seen VIBE's past shows knows that Thom's the go-big-or-go-home type of artist. End the year with a bang and jump in to the next one.
Other dance studios typically will hold a year-end recital featuring two hours of dance routines. Not VIBE. It has sets designed specifically for the event. It has costumes and characters and three year olds prancing about the stage. The show is about the story.
"For the audience, it creates such a more enjoyable experience when it is something in a story line, when it is something they can really get involved in when they're watching," Thom says in a phone interview with Pique.
"It opens it up to being not just parents of dancers that would enjoy watching the show," she says.
"If you're not a dancer or you don't have a dancer in the show, it is still a really enjoyable show to watch. It's entertaining to watch all around."
This is, in fact, VIBE's biggest show yet. There will be 130 dancers ranging from ages three to 18 doing all styles of dance, from tap to hip-hop to ballet and all points in between. Thom co-wrote the story and music with her husband/VIBE co-owner Jeremy. They wrote, choreographed and rehearsed the entire production over a six-month period.
As in years past, she's keeping the production's plot a secret. She says it's a sequel of sorts to VIBE's winter production, A Wacky Winter Tale. It will have plenty of humour and enough acting to break up the dance numbers. She says it also has a cosmic subtext running through the story.
"It's about the things we don't notice every day, the miracles of every day life in nature that we're constantly experiencing though we might possibly see them as ordinary," she says. "Nature is the most miraculous thing that we're talking about here."
There is a plot twist that no amount of pestering or bribing will convince her to reveal.
"I don't like to spoil the surprise," she says. "I think it's more impactful for the audience to experience it fresh without knowing what they're going into."
The sets are all designed in-house and built with the help of volunteers. They purchase all the costumes that they can and volunteers make whatever else is needed.
"This year we've had tons of parents from our dancers pitching in at the studio... doing hand-sewing and whatever else we need done," Thom says.
But all of this is pleasant dressing for what lays at the core of VIBE's productions: the dancing. Since this is a year-end production, the point is for the dancers to show off what they've learned over the year. And show off they will.
VIBE is now in its second year and Thom, who has been producing full-blown dance productions in Whistler for six years, says that the productions have only gotten better — and will only get better — on the strength of the dancers.
"The studio grows, so as more kids get involved obviously the show is going to be a little bit bigger. And they get better, so as they get more advanced, there's more that they can handle," she says.
VIBE's productions have been immensely popular in the past and have sold out every year.
By press time for this issue, tickets were very near to selling out, so jump on those remaining post-haste, lest you be supremely disappointed.