The Bear Creek Dance Company will be kicking up a storm Thursday for their annual recital at the south-end Barrie high school.
The award-winning group includes the 18-member Dance Team, which performs and competes technically in genres such as contemporary, jazz, tap and Acro, as well as the 20-person Dance Crew which performs and competes in hip-hop only. Some students are on both teams.
Each team trains one day after school and one to two lunches each week.
Their season runs from October to June, with many performances in the fall and competitions in the spring.
"This team is a beautiful blend of talent, hard work and commitment," teacher and coach Heather Robert told BarrieToday. "They truly love what they do and it is evident when they are performing on stage. The difference with this team is that they dance from the heart. They are showstoppers!"
The Bear Creek Dance Company is an extracurricular team that students must audition for at the Red Oak Drive high school, said Robert, adding students in all grades are welcome to give it their best shot. This year's company includes four students in Grade 9, seven in Grade 10, six in Grade 11, and 11 in Grade 12.
"The company has taken on its own force and created a strong unity within Bear Creek, and now in many other areas around the province," Robert said. "These dancers are talented, driven and work hard everyday they are in the studio training."
Choreographers include Isabela Robev, Hollie Sargent, Bayley Irwin, Gillian Duncan, Emma Staley, Olivia Blouin and Emma Tate, while the other coaches are Sarah King, Laura Bruno, Donna Mae Burns, and Jerimy Dickson.
"The Bear Creek dance program has been one of the greatest assets when expanding my knowledge within choreography," said Robev, who's in Grade 12. "I have been given the freedom to create, with guidance and support. I was able to find my light and run with it, and attain so many of my goals at such a young age."
"There is a big difference between studio and Bear Creek dance," added Irwin, who is also in Grade 12. "Studio dance is where you build your basic technique in order to be a team player; Bear Creek has given me the opportunity to find myself not only as a dancer but as a person."
"The Bear Creek dance program is the most welcoming place I can think of," said Sargent. "Every opportunity I have been given, in and outside of the classroom, has come with endless amount of support and encouragement."
Thursday night's recital is the semester-ending showcase and is open to the public, although tickets are limited and must be purchased in advance. Call the school, at 705-727-7712, to see if any tickets are still available. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and show starts at 7 p.m.
"Students in our classes have been preparing all semester for this evening and our dance company will be performing all of their competition pieces," said Robert, adding the performances will demonstrate a variety of genres and all levels of ability for dancers between the ages of 14 and 18 years old.
The company's other performances include the Bear Creek Pep Rally, the Kempenfelt Cup, and Bear Creek dance recitals, while competitions have included the Strive Dance Challenge, SPARK Dance Competition and Showcase, and Niagara’s Best Dance Crew.
The Bear Creek dancers have competed against more than 50 other schools, garnering 18 first-place standings, seven top overall and 10 special awards, as well as a pair of choreography awards and three top team nods.
"To be as successful in so many divisions is an incredible feat," Robert said.
She's proud of all the team members and what they've been able to achieve.
"The team does exceptionally well with our contemporary and hip-hop pieces," Robert said. "Bear Creek has its own unique style to contemporary often quirky, and interesting to watch.
"They are also masters of being unique as often mentioned with our Desperate Housewives piece," Robert added.
However, the most popular style would be hip-hop.
"Bear Creek’s Crew is unstoppable. Our hip-hop, choreographed primarily by Isabela Robev, is considered very ‘street’ hip-hop, which seems to really resonate with audiences and judges. When they perform, they take you on a journey... like you are a part of the dance."
The teacher/coach says she's also impressed by how the students gel with not only each other, but their fellow competitors.
"The greatest attribute of this team is how inclusive and supportive they are with one another and all other teams at competition," Robert said. "They are often the loudest, happiest and most enthusiastic team there. And they cheer their competition on as much as they cheer each other on.
"Not only are they incredible dancers, they are outstanding humans," she added.