Dancer continues to grow

Former So You Think You Can Dance Canada contestant Charlene Hart helps young dancers realize their dreams.

Charlene Hart

Charlene Hart

By: Rosemary PhillipsFrom national television to establishing her own dance studio, Charlene Hart has realized her dreams.

But now the former So You Think You Can Dance Canada (SYTYCDC) contestant has a few new dreams.

“Now my dream is to see my dance studio continue and grow as I watch young dancers move on to careers of their own,” Hart said.

Meanwhile, another part of Charlene’s dream has been to continue choreographing and performing.

On Saturday (Aug. 9) at Maffeo Sutton Park, where she will be dancing in the Symphony by the Sea performance.

The event will also feature violinist  Calvin Dyck, Ken Lavigne, Eric Harper, members of the Vancouver Island Symphony and Abbotsford Virtuosi.

“Calvin Dyck contacted me and asked if I could create a dance to ‘Sweet Remembrance of You’ by William Joseph,” Hart said. “Calvin sent me the song and I instantly connected to it; I could visualize and feel the dance.”

The song is fully orchestrated, filled with beauty, grace and emotion and is ideal Hart.

“I’m mixing two styles, contemporary with some lyrical dance, because it is such a fluid piece of music,” Hart explained. “There’s nothing better than dancing with live musicians, and I just love working with Calvin. He is amazing, a mixture of being a great artist and an exceptional professional with wonderful camaraderie – and we have tons of fun.”

Hart met Dyck in 2010 after she had completed on SYTYCDC, where she reached the final five.

“I had been living in New York after spending four years travelling the world performing on cruise ships. I auditioned for SYTYCDC and went to Toronto to do the show,” Hart explained about events leading up to her appearance on SYTYCDC. “After reaching the finals I was asked to not take any dance contracts or travel for a while in case the top ten contenders were to tour across Canada.”

Hart explained that the show’s request made things a little awkward for her but allowed her the opportunity to return to her home in Abbotsford.

“It was an awkward situation but it allowed me to return home to Abbotsford and while I waited I was able to fill my time with another passion of mine, teaching,” Hart said. “SYTYCDC unfortunately didn’t get the funding for the tour that year, so I stayed in Abbotsford and planted my roots, opened up my own studio, Absolute Dance Academy, and started performing in Calvin’s Songs Strings & Steps shows.”

Life has a wonderful way of working out, and for Charlene it has really blossomed.

“The studio is only in its third year so it will take a few more years before I will see the young dancers grow up,” Hart said. “Dance is a tough industry. I want to support and encourage the young dancers to believe they can make a career, to inspire them to follow their dreams. It takes hard work and determination, but if you really want it, you can get there.”

Hart said that as a dancer it is important to consistantly learn and grow throughout your career.

“As a dancer you want to keep adding to your repertoire,” she said. “In New York I fell in love with ballroom and Latin dance, so I would like to get more involved with that.”

The most memorable experience in Hart’s career so far has been the thrill of appearing on SYTYCDC.

“I have been dancing since I was three and performed on many stages in front of audiences, yet I was nervous. It was such a completely different world, with cameras all around and a nation watching,” Hart explained. “One of our group routines, performed to ‘Will I?’ from the musical Rent, was very emotional. We had to connect with the piece, to feel it, to believe the story that the choreographer, Mia Michaels, was telling. I had never experienced such emotion before. After each shoot everyone was crying. Mia called the piece ‘Rejection.’ It was based on her own life of loss and rejection, on her wanting to change herself for the better and support artists in becoming the best they can be.”

For Symphony by the Sea, Hart will be demonstrating that very thing – being the best you can be.

“My wish is for everyone to come to this live, true and artistic concert, sit back and relax, feel the music and performances, and enjoy the evening as much as we will enjoy performing,” she said.

Charlene Hart performs at Symphony by the Sea on Aug. 9 at Maffeo Sutton Park at 6:00 p.m. The event is free. For more information please visit