Improvisation on any stage can be difficult, but Napanee’s Revival School of Dance thrived on an unscripted development last year to build a strong foundational routine.
Last April when That’s Dancin’ School of Dance owner Coralea Campbell decided to close her doors, more than 30 competitive dancers were scrambling to find homes for the next winter with auditions looming.
Rebecca and Andre Roy were among the parents searching for a place to take their two young daughters to compete. They saw another local school and thought they’d like a different technical approach. Then, they pondered going to Kingston or Belleville four nights a week. Eventually, they picked another option.
“I had one harebrained idea: “Why don’t we just do it?’ We’ll get some teachers, find a space and just run it,” studio director Rebecca recalled.
Less than a month later, they were having a meeting with the team. Campbell signed on to continue teaching, as did senior instructor Melissa Irwin-Pyne. Soon, construction was underway at an Advance Avenue studio.
“We found the space and did the renos the whole summer,” Roy continued. “We had enough dancers, everyone signed back on. We had 40 comp kids out during our first year.”
The Revival team also discovered they would need a recreational program, both to feed the competitive team and to expose more young people in the community to the world of dance. Dubbed the skills and development program, it attracted 18 dancers in September and swelled to 35 by the end of the season in the spring. Instead of signing up for a whole year of dance, the children were able to pick different styles to try for eight-week sessions. It also gave dancers an opportunity to take a break if needed during the year.
The teachers and students mixed well in their new environment, perhaps surprising Roy how close they got so soon.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “It’s important to have that inclusiveness in a studio, but sometimes you get little pods. I’m very proud of the dance family we have created. Everyone is very supportive, engaging and always open to new ideas and displaying positive attitudes. We are so very lucky.”
The dancers bought into the program and the teachers delivered a positive attitude. Through its first season, Revival sent dancers to competitions in Ottawa, Brampton, North York and Belleville. They took 46 overall awards on the season, including 11 high-score awards in a particular genre, 21 special awards, six choreographic awards, and one award for the top studio, reflective of the studio with the highest top 10 scores.
Revival also had an early claim to fame, participating in the Kick It Up Virtual Finals. Roy explained it is an online competition where all the scores for dances are compiled as part of the virtual competition across Canada. The top 20 scores entered from competitions across the country make the final. Revival had 10 dancers in the top 20 in their respective categories this year and entries that took first place, second place, and ninth place.
In the duet/trio competition for dancers 13-and-older, Jessica Brunner, Natasha Irwin-Pyne and Makayla Roy placed first. In the duet/trio competition for dancers 12 and under, Elle Chapman, Jaylyn Maracle, and Breanna Roy placed second. In the small-group competition for dancers 13 and older, Brunner, Irwin-Pyne, Chapman, Maracle, Makayla and Breanna Roy, and Mackenzie Myers placed ninth.
In addition to a year-end showcase, Revival had a dance banquet to honour its achievements. It handed out a “Performance Award” to Brianna Milligan; a “Teachers’ Choice Award” to Zoe Langman, Alyssa Mulligan, and Sydney Mann; and a “Love To Dance Award” to Clara Hull. “Dancer’s Choice Awards” went to Anastasia Braham in the junior category, Peyton Conger in the intermediate category, and Natasha Irwin-Pyne in the senior category.
Auditions have already taken place for the upcoming season with a few new dancers joining the competitive team. Registration for fall programming begins Aug. 20.
Roy said there will be some extensive classes taking place this month with speakers sharing positive thinking, healthy eating, and physical awareness lessons for the dancers to be mindful of throughout the year.
Roy said she’s hoping the studio continues to take positive steps as part of its encore.
“I just hope our kids continue to grow and lear and continue to be a good unit and stay strong,” she said.