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The Show Must Go On — Dance Umbrella celebrates 20th year of Spring Showcase

Bruce Fuhr
By Bruce Fuhr
May 7th, 2017

A lot has changed in 20 years.

High speed internet has taken over from dial-up, everyone has a smart phone and the weather, well, let’s just stop right there.

While a lot has changed, a lot has remained the same for Dance Umbrella over the past 20 years.

The local dance institution, with an annual registration hovering around the 150 participant mark, has continued to boast the same family-orientated atmosphere while at the same time grooming the kids in the art of modern, ballet, hip-hop, jazz, and Bollywood styles.

“When I think of dance I think of it as a community . . . as a way for people to connect outside of school on something they all share an interest in,” said Dance Umbrella grad Elsa Neufeld-Cumming on the eve of the annual Spring Showcase at the Capitol Theater in Nelson.

Neufeld-Cumming was there to get a sneak-peak at the 20th annual show Thursday through Saturday at the Capitol Theatre.

“Obviously having a show at the end of the year is such a big thing,” Neufeld-Cumming adds. “The seats are always filled and dancers work on it for so long . . . it’s super exciting and the attention to the show keeps everyone so focused throughout the year.”

Sabbian Clover has been a mainstay with Dance Umbrella from the start in 1997.

As the head of the program, Clover has watched dancers grow from young tikes, like Neufeld-Cumming who joined when she was 10 years old, to go on to dance at post-secondary programs throughout North America.

“There’s a real continuum . . . looking back at the pictures there’s something there’s something the kids were doing 20 years ago that they are doing today that’s the same,” Clover said.

“The passion the kids today are sharing, the hard work . . .  commitment they put in . . . what they’re doing is rather extraordinary, I think.”

During the 20 years, Dance Umbrella has seen more than 3,000 dancers go through the program, including a large number of male dancers.

Past grads have gone on to continue dancing after Dance Umbrella. Some post-Dance Umbrella groups include Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria and University of Alberta as well as Neufeld-Cumming who was part of the program in New York City.

The Dance Umbrella 20th Spring Showcase goes Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.

There is also a matinee Saturday at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $13. Tickets can be purchased at the Capitol Theatre Box Office.

The public can expect an exceptional show with dancers from age three and up performing a varied program.

“We work all year on this show,” Clover explained.

“Not only is it a lot of work with the choreography and costume but the (dancers) bodies have to be trained. So there’s two elements. There’s putting on the show but then there’s the day to day grind of developing their techniques so they can do it.”

Daniel Gibson has seen the Spring Showcase from both sides, as a student and now instructor.

“It was a solid program when I was here in high school and hasn’t changed that much,” said Gibson, who started in the program at 14 years.

“Everyone who comes to the Dance Umbrella likes it . . . they’re all part of a family. And Sabbian creates that.”

And what’s the future hold for Dance Umbrella?

“We have a solid foundation with Sabbian, myself and Siara Berkley, I think Dance Umbrella will continue . . . I hope, until my kids graduate from high school,” Gibson added.

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