Helix Dancers at Ballenas

Coming from Courtenay to Nanaimo, dancers will bring the Whalebone Theatre to life

Some dynamic young dancers will perform Friday

Fans of contemporary dance won’t want to miss an upcoming performance by the Helix Dance Theatre company in Parksville.

Several pieces including four original new works will be presented by gifted young dancers at the Ballenas Whalebone Theatre May 18.

Helix was co-founded by Sarah Panichelli-DeVito and Kourtney Hunchuk and is celebrating its third anniversary.

This will be the final performance of the season and the dancers will present a fantastic evening of sophisticated dancing.

The company incorporates contemporary jazz and theatre as a medium to convey education through dance.

Their goal is to showcase the talents of gifted and diverse young dancers through unique and relevant repertoire that connects dancers to their communities while demonstrating an elevated technical and artistic calibre.

Currently there are 11 dancers between the age of 13 and 18 in the company from Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Nanaimo and Courtenay who bring a wide range of dance genres to the group and perform mainly contemporary pieces.

Panichelli-DeVito said one of the dances is a modern piece about six and a half minutes long that she choreographed called Sinner Man.

It is based on the civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the southern United States to defy segregation laws and call for change.

“The piece is inspired by the stories of the freedom riders of 1961. These people changed the south. It is a heavy duty topic but the girls are invested in it,” she said.

Part of her mandate is to have the dancers understand the piece.

They understand the stories they are presenting and the girls researched the piece and totally embraced it when it was presented to them.

They debuted the piece in Nanaimo back in November at the Port Theatre and Panichelli-DeVito said the dancers really do justice to the choreography and will once again convey the emotion of it for the audience in Parksville.

The moving piece is set to an interesting mix of songs from the old south and includes gospel and slave music.

Panichelli-DeVito is also excited that Jessica Atkinson will be performing a modern contemporary piece on Friday night.

Atkinson who just returned from dancing with the contemporary Gallim Dance Company in New York City began her dance training at the Parksville Ballet School.

In Grade 10 she moved to Vancouver to join the Arts Umbrella SPARTS program.

She continued there for four years and completed the Arts Umbrella/VCC Graduate Program.

Atkinson has participated in Springboard Danse Montreal where she got to perform with the Rubberbanddance Company. The Montreal-based dance company is well known for breaking new ground on stage by fusing elements of ballet, contemporary and street dance. Its choreography  mixes the exuberance of hip hop with the refinement of classical dance to bring a new concept of dance to the stage.

Atkinson is now teaching various classes on the Island and in Vancouver and will be performing a piece that she choreographed herself called To Catch a Dandelion.

A lyrical piece by guest choreographer Mike McInnes will also be presented.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $12 and are available at Mulberry Bush Book stores and at the door.


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