Last month was a big one for the Churchill Ballerina Project. In a rush of choreographed dance outside the Broadway skytrain station (by the "Walking Feet" statues), two Dance 12 classes converged and danced up a storm for four dance classes, Churchill photography students as well as many parents and passersby.
The Ballerina Project was the brainchild last year of Churchill student Iris Chen, who was a ballerina. During the first year, the project was led by Churchill teachers Ed Olson and Edna James. This year, Olson teamed up teacher Lara Chalmers. The project's driving idea was to blend the Big Ideas Project from the Vancouver Biennale with something uniquely "Churchill".
"This year we thought that we would use the public art on the Canada Line as our focus, starting with the Walking Feet sculpture at Broadway and Cambie," said Olson. "After the performance the dancers and photographers headed out to different stations on the line. We called it the Ballerina Project but there were other styles of dance, ballet, hip hop, contemporary, and break dancing."
The inspiration of the choreography itself came from several places. The first dance was to Ed Sheeran's song "Kiss Me", which Chalmers describes as a lyrical jazz dance with movements that tell the story of realizing one is in love. The second dance was a combination of "Royals" by Lorde and "So Deep" by a band called Hot Chip. The theme of that song was domination and it was a fusion of contemporary jazz and street jazz moves.
Chalmers says the brief appearance at the Canada Line came after hours of rehearsals that took place over the past month. It was an intense schedule.
"Students rehearsed every class since spring break," she says. "Of course, many of the students would have practiced on their own outside of class time as well."
At the end of the day, Chalmers says all the hard work paid off.
"People witnessing it really seemed to enjoy the performance, even if they didn't quite understand what was going on or why the dances were taking place," she says. "A few onlookers asked me about the dances, what styles they were, and who the students were and how long they had been dancing. The feedback from the students themselves was also positive."
Photo courtesy of Kabir Dhillon and Karmen Wong