anine Wood has been a dancer all her life and now she wants other Nanaimo residents to come together and share that passion.
Promoting dance and fellowship has always been important to Wood, who is a Royal Academy of Dance instructor and artistic director of the Solera Performing Arts Society, a non-profit organization that offers, with grant support, performing arts workshops across Vancouver Island.
“I just moved to the city four years ago and I’ve been super busy with work and I’m just starting to step away a little bit from my work schedule so that I can actually focus on my passion, which is dance and culture and community,” she said.
That passion has inspired Wood to set out to organize in Nanaimo social events with a dance component. The first such event is a New Year’s Eve ball at the Coast Bastion Hotel on Dec. 31. She’s also planning two more events for the coming year, one on Valentine’s Day and another in the spring.
“Each event will include a little beginner-friendly dance lesson at the beginning just to get everybody up and teach them maybe something new,” Wood said.
“I know that there’s actually a well-established dance community here in Nanaimo, so I’m hopeful that they’ll all come out as well. But for those that are maybe not so comfortable on the dance floor, each event’s going to have a little dance lesson … so that people can get out there and learn something new and maybe break the ice.”
She said she’s filling a niche by offering an alternative dance-based social outing to nightclubs. And while her main audience is adults, she wants youth to be involved as well. While vacationing around Europe she noticed that there was less age separation at celebrations and cultural events and she wants to bring that sense of inclusiveness to Nanaimo. At the New Year’s ball, for example, the Wellington Jazz Academy’s Wellington Quartet will be performing during the cocktail and dinner hour.
Headlining the evening is local group Johnny Inappropriate. Wood discovered the band “just by chance” while at the Queen’s with some coworkers one night. She said she was impressed by their versatility.
“They were amazing. I was just basically astounded at the talent,” she said about the group.
“I saw them firsthand and they were my first choice and lo and behold they wanted to do it.”
“We have a huge selection of songs because, combined, we’ve been in so many bands together thorough the years, so we have a really large set list,” said Arron Curry, Johnny Inappropriate bassist and vocalist.
“We play everything from disco right up to brand new [music] and we like to mix it up in our sets a little bit of everything, but it’s always danceable music.”
Wood’s prediction that these kinds of events were missing in Nanaimo has evidently proven accurate, as she said the New Year’s ball was already half-sold out by December.
“I’ve been planning to launch a series of events for a long time,” she said.
“I really have a passion for getting people out, enjoying fun, cultural experiences. So my objective is to cultivate community here in Nanaimo and get people out of the house, having fun.”
WHAT’S ON … New Year’s Eve ball at the Coast Bastion Hotel on Sunday, Dec. 31 starting at 6 p.m. Tickets are $95, groups of six more get 10 per cent off.