Vibe Dance Studio’s 13th season came to an end earlier this month with nearly 500 dancers taking part in three days of recitals at the Port Theatre.
Vibe owner Serra Stewart said every year builds to that moment.
“They’re trying to have their strongest moment on stage and I think they all did it,” she said. “I might be biased, though. I’ve been told that I am.”
The dancers range in age from three to 20 and from complete beginners who’ve been dancing since September to the members of Vibe’s “performance levels” who perform at competitions and community events.
Even after more than a decade Stewart said it “blows your mind” to see what the dancers are capable of by the end of the year.
“It’s always exciting to see the first moments when they start working on stuff and just to see the progression,” she said. “And it’s always really exciting too because the parents can see it, which is something that I really want them to actually see so they understand why we ask their kid to be in the studio for hours practising.”
The end-of-year recital also marked the final performances for Vibe’s graduating dancers. Stewart said around 10 dancers are moving on and she’s known some of those students since they were little and it’s hard to say good bye.
“I think most of them are going on either to university or quite a few of them are still going to be pursuing dance, which is always really exciting for me to see when they’re following on with what they really are passionate about,” she said.
But as one generation leaves, another one comes up. Stewart said she had more three- to eight-year-olds than she’s ever had this year and it was “a bit overwhelming” having them all perform at the year-end recital.
“There were a lot of kids backstage so I’m grateful for the volunteers that showed up to help me kind of calm them, but once they go onstage it’s sort of like this magical moment [when] you see this shift,” she said. “If they were acting out or being sillysauce or anything, they go onstage and they’re just focused to get the job done.”
Stewart said another growing demographic is male students, with about 100 to 150 boys participating this year. She said the increase can be attributed to the growing awareness of careers in dance and its acceptance as an athletic pursuit and she’s happy parents are supportive.
She recently had three teenage students appear on the NBC dance contest World of Dancer, with two of them, Jacksun Fryer and Carlow Rush of the duo Funkanometry, going far in the competition. Stewart said their success has made an impression on her younger students and she’s enjoyed seeing their reactions.
“Jacksun, I‘ve known him since he was six … and he’s a super chill kid,” she said. “But he’ll walk through the studio with me chatting [and] you see these kids suddenly freeze and they’re just staring at him. It’s so cute.”