Dancers from eight Saskatchewan clubs will take the stage for around 420 performances this weekend as the Prince Albert Festival of Dance begins at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre.
The four-day program began on Thursday, with three Prince Albert dance groups among the eight taking part. Prince Albert Festival of Dance president Kirby Toews said it’s exciting to have so many performers on stage.
“There’s just so much energy,” Toews said during a break Friday afternoon. “It’s so good to see all the hard work going on stage.”
Natalie Pitton-Sweazey and Janice Lynn will serve as the two adjudicators at this year’s festival. Pitton-Sweazey is a graduate of the National Ballet School’s Teacher Training Program. She has worked as an adjudicator for 15 years, but has taught and choreographed for dance students for 20 years. Lyne has been involved in dance education for more than three decades. She has adjudicated and taught across Canada as an examiner for the British Association of Teachers of Dance.
“It’s nice to get somebody that’s coming with a different perspective,” Toews said. “Usually it’s somebody who hasn’t seen these kids perform, and (they) just provide different critiques.”
Sara Zbaraschuk is one of many Prince Albert dancers who will perform during the festival. She took the stage Friday, and has six more performances scheduled during the next two days.
It’s a hectic schedule, but Zbaraschuk, who performs with ‘Ballet and all that Jazz’ looks forward to it.
“It’s crazy, but it’s really fun,” she said. “You just get so nervous, and then you go on stage and you let it all out on stage. It’s really exciting.”
Zbaraschuk said she values the chance to receive feedback from experienced adjudicators, which she credits for making her a better dancer. However, she values the camaraderie of the event even more.
“It just feels like a big family,” she said. “Everyone’s so kind.
“I’ve made so many great friends just dancing, and I’ve met so many cool people. I think that’s probably the best part.”
Students like Zbaraschuk not only have a change to improve their abilities and reconnect with friends, they also have a chance to win a few prizes. Thanks to local sponsors, the Festival of Dance will provide more than $15,000 in awards to dancers.
Toews said those sponsors and the clubs that perform are what keep the festival going strong and giving back to the community.
“We have this amazing facility that’s able to host us,” she said. “It’s nice for the local families to have an opportunity to perform locally on our stage without having to travel. It brings in people from outside of our city to support other businesses and it’s just good for the community to have all this happening here.”
Doors open on Saturday and Sunday for the Prince Albert Festival of Dance at 8:15 a.m. Livestream options are also available on the E.A. Rawlinson website.