More Than a Room returns to celebrate PACI Dance Program

Submitted photo Dance captains Jackie Bird and Mirra Michel performed at the PACI Dance Program’s 11th More Than a Room on Thursday, May 23

The Prince Albert Collegiate Institute (PACI) Dance Program hosted their 11th annual More Than a Room fundraiser with a performance on Thursday evening at the EA Rawlinson Centre.
More Than a Room began a decade ago to raise money for converting a classroom into a professional dance studio. Since then, the event has helped pay for costumes, workshops, travel to competitions, and guest choreographers.
PACI Dance teacher Alicia Wotherspoon said that she could not believe the 11th year of the program had come to an end.
“Over the past decade, the dance program has provided students from diverse backgrounds and varying skill levels the chance to explore the art of dance,” she said.
Wotherspoon said the classes helped to foster an environment where students learn not only dance technique, but also how to uplift and encourage one another regardless of their successes or setbacks.
“The supportive atmosphere has instilled in our students the values of leadership, respect, and confidence, as well as the importance of hard work,” Wotherspoon said. “The dance studio has become much more than just a room where classes are held. It has become a space for self-expression and for creating lifelong connections.”
The theme for the evening was love, loss and the preciousness of life. Wotherspoon said the goal was to explore how love magnifies the pain of loss, while loss, in turn, deepens the experience of love.
“There is a coexistence of the pain of missing someone and the peace of being able to hold onto their memory forever,” she explained. “This reminds us that love, although temporary, has an everlasting impact.”
Students worked all year to prepare for Thursday’s show. Wotherspoon said the dance program is a passion of hers, and one she’s happy to share with her students.
She said the program gives students of all backgrounds and skill levels the opportunity to take dance classes and earn three Arts Ed credits.
During this year, the program shared their dance with others. The group performed at the PACI Remembrance Day Assembly and Winter Showcase. They also taught dance to students at Ecole Vickers in the Development Education Program.
They also brought in Toronto dancer/performer, Mason McDonald, to teach a contemporary jazz workshop.
“In the winter, we participated in the Winter Festival Youth Extravaganza and also had the privilege of inviting in and dancing for the University of Regina President, Jeff Keshen, and Associate Vice-President, Lori Campbell. Most recently, dancers led sessions to grade eight
students during Experience PACI, and we are looking forward to working with other elementary classes again in June,” Wotherspoon said.
Like every activity, sanctions from the Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation (STF) did loom over the dance program but Wotherspoon is proud of her students for remaining focused.
“I am so glad that we didn’t cancel the event and that we stayed hopeful that it would be able
to proceed,” she said. “I am proud of the dancers for continuing to push themselves, especially on days when we weren’t sure if the dance would make it to the stage or not—and for working extra hard once we did know.
“Although there were times when it wasn’t easy, students further developed the power of perseverance, staying positive and that they can do difficult things.”
There were performances from PACI Dance Program, singer/songwriter Kaeley Jade and the Birch Hills Dance Centre.
Wotherspoon added that she is grateful to work with students and share her love of dance.
Mirra Michel was featured on the poster for this year’s More Than a Room and she said the program meant a lot to her.
“I never realized how much dance would become involved in my life and it’s only been one year since my first dance class with Ms. W,” Michel said. “Dance has made such a positive impact on me, like teaching me commitment and strength. I’ve gained friendships that I
cherish and confidence at a time that I needed it.”
Alumni Angelle Echepare said that dance is something that she missed now that she graduated.
“For me, dance means so much,” Echepare explained. “After I left high school and joined the real world, I had always felt there was a part of myself missing. Dance was that part, and having the opportunity to come back in a safe and encouraging space has refilled my joy and
part of my soul. I fully believe this dance program has helped, and will continue to help, people just like me.”