It’s a long way from Maple Ridge to Riesa, Germany.
And it’s a journey four Maple Ridge tap dancers will be making this December to compete in the World Tap Dance Championships.
Franqui Barber, Shelby Greaves, Shayla Bodnarchuk, and Kieran Krosser have been chosen to represent Canada during the competition, along with approximately 20 other dancers from across the country.
Taking place Dec. 3-7, and hosted by the International Dance Organization, the event is known in dance circles as the “Olympics of Dance.” The competition will see 2,000 dancers from around the globe compete for the title of world Champion.
All four dancers had to go through an application process and an audition at the end of August in one of four locations (Mission, Port Coquitlam, Burnaby and Vancouver) to be selected for the team.
By the end of the Labour Day weekend, the four knew they were Germany-bound.
Kieran said he was “excited and proud to represent our country.”
Dancing since the age of eight, he said it was watching his older sister dance that motivated him to try it.
“When I watched my sister’s dance competitions and recitals, I saw she was having so much fun,” Kieran said. “She inspired me to dance. Dance is hard work, but it doesn’t feel like work when you are having fun.”
Anne Barber, Franqui’s mom, said her daughter’s love of dance started from an early age.
“As soon as Franqui began walking, she was always dancing and listening to her feet when she was on a hard floor, like at the bank or grocery store,” she said. “I thought to myself ‘I should put her into dance classes,’ and when she turned three, I did. It was no surprise that tap became her favourite.”
Both Franqui and Kieran train and dance at Peggy Peat School of Dance, and Greaves and Bodnarchuk train and teach at Centre Stage Dance studio.
Shelby has been dancing since the age of five, while Shayla has been around the dance studio since she was a baby, when she would come with her older sister.
Their dancing has brought them to competitions as far away as California, but this will be the first time they’ve competed overseas. It’s also the first time Centre Stage students have been a part of this competition.
“It’s very cool to have a couple of our students doing this,” said Courtny Thane, a director and instructor at Centre Stage.
Marg Derksen, owner/operator of Peggy Peat, and whose mother started the school, reflected this sentiment. “It’s great for the school and it’s great for the kids because the school knows we’re doing well and the students are accomplishing and moving ahead,” she said.
Franqui said she is “thrilled” to have been selected to both the large and small group as part of the 2013 Canadian Tap Dance Team. “What an experience to be able to dance at a world level and represent Canada,” she added.
The teen has also been selected to perform as part of a duet.
The experience won’t be without its fair share of training and preparation, however. In addition to their routine weekly schedule, Shayla and Shelby train for five hours every Saturday and Sunday.
“Anybody that’s dancing for Team Canada, whatever studio they’re at, they’re training all week at their studios,” said Thane. “Both Shelby and Shayla also teach here on Saturday mornings, then they’re training on top of that as well.”
For Franqui and Kieran, their training schedule started on Oct. 5 and includes three weekends and then “probably about four or five other Sundays alone, for cleanup and rehearsals,” said Anne.
The four are no strangers to the spotlight, though.
Kieran has performed in a variety of community events, including the Rick Hansen Gala event, and a performance at the Kitsilano Showboat in Vancouver.
Franqui has danced in the PNE, the 2010 Paralympics opening ceremonies and the 99th Grey Cup Halftime Show.
Shelby has represented her studio in parades, community events, even Disneyland, while Shayla has danced at the 2013 BMO Marathon and the 2013 BC Lions home opener.
For those who want to see these dancers perform just before they leave, there will be a gala event on Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Massey Theatre in New Westminster, where the tap, jazz, ballet, and modern world teams will all preview their dances.
A pub night to help raise funds for the trip will be held at the Jolly Coachman at 3-7 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 3.
Tickets will be available at the door, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
@ Copyright 2013