‘Really, honestly, just a relief’

Mallory Attree of Prince Albert performs during the Spring Stars Dance Carnival at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Sunday. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

This isn’t how Mallory Attree imagined closing out her time with the Performing Arts Warehouse, but she’s still excited to make the most of it.

Attree, a senior level dancer with the Prince Albert company, was just one of many performers who took the stage as part of the Spring Stars Dance Carnival at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre. Like the rest of her compatriots, she’s excited to get one last chance on stage before graduating.

“This definitely isn’t the way we wall would have expected (to end it), but at least we get to go on the stage one more time, which is super exciting,” Attree said a few minutes before taking the stage Sunday afternoon.

“It’s really, honestly, just a relief. After COVID, we were just sad everything was over. We didn’t know when we would ever go back again, so being able to get back on the stage is really exciting for us.”

In a normal year, Performing Arts dancers would have been preparing for Dance Blast, an annual competition that draws more than 500 performers to Prince Albert. Public health orders prevented such a gathering from happening in 2021, and that forced instructors to find new ways to get their students back on the stage.

Performing Arts co-owner Jenna Trawin said they rented the facility months ago in hopes the number of COVID-19 cases would drop enough to host a dance competition. Although that didn’t happen, they’re still looking to make the most of the situation.

There were no trophies handed out, and dancers had to arrive and leave on a strictly timed schedule, but two adjudicators were on hand to give feedback. After one year away from the stage, Trawin said that’s almost as valuable to the performers.

“I really feel for some of the dancers who are graduating, and the ones who are graduating next year,” she said. “They’re missing out on these opportunities to dance, so if we can give them the opportunity to come to the stage, that’s important to do.”

Trawin said they’ve had to get creative with training and teaching plans, which often meant repurposing normal everyday items like kitchen tables and stair banisters. Performing Arts dancers have been training for months for this event, but Trawin said they’re talking baby-steps when it comes to getting back in the studio. That’s another reason why events like this are so helpful.

“We’re just so excited to be back, (and) to get costumes,” she added. “Things are different, but everybody’s just so thankful that we are able to be here and get on stage.”

For graduating dancers like Attree, Spring Stars represents the end of her time with Performing Arts Warehouse, but more dance may be in her future. She’s thinking about becoming an instructor some day, and still hopes to continue performing once she finishes high school.

This weekend, however, she’s just focused on making the most of her chance on the stage. “I am just super grateful for everybody who put this together, so we can get together in this space,” she said. “Even though it’s not the same as it probably would have been last year, I’m very excited.”