Tempo Dance Academy students rehearse for the first time in their newly acquired costumes as they prepare for their Enchanted Christmas Show at the Port Theatre on Dec. 8. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Tempo brings Christmas enchantment to Nanaimo

Nearly 100 dancers taking part in one of the studio’s biggest regular productions

It was a particularly hectic day at Tempo Dance Academy on Saturday.

The costumes had just arrived for the dance school’s upcoming biennial Christmas show and dozens of little elves, snowmen and Christmas characters darted around the school rehearsing their parts and getting their pictures taken.

“This is it,” Tempo dance instructor and choreographer Leah Correia said.

“[The costumes] were sitting in the front door when we came in today so it was like, ‘And we made it.’ So a big sigh.”

Correia said watching her senior group rehearse in full costume for the first time brought “more life” to the performance.

She said as much as you can tell them to channel their inner Grinch or Cindy Lou Who, the effect is completely different once they’re dressed for the part.

Tempo’s Enchanted Christmas show, coming to the Port Theatre on Friday, Dec. 8, is one of the larger productions the dance school brings to the stage, with nearly 100 dancers from age six to 18 participating in the production. Its scale and required time commitment are what result in the show only taking place once every two years.

“It is a big thing, probably one of our biggest things. It is a huge endeavour, we’ve got everyone from all the little ones all the way up to the senior class,” Correia said.

“It’s one more thing that we add to all the other important things that we do during the year, like ballet exams and jazz exams and other competitions … and then some of these kids are in a youth dance company as well that meet on Sundays and they’re doing a huge production, too.”

The dancers have been rehearsing since October, but they’ll only get one day to practise on stage at the Port Theatre with costumes and props and technical effects the day before the show.

While that may seem like a lot of pressure for the young dancers, Correia, who has been teaching for 30 years and formerly danced with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, said it helps prepare the students for the real world.

“In the industry, when you’re dancing, production time is really expensive. So these kids may be going on to careers and learning that you have to be fast and efficient and really responsible for all that stuff so we can get through it,” she said.

“I think it’s a really good thing that they learn that we don’t have two weeks to spend renting a theatre and that’s how it works.”

In the show, different age groups will be performing together. Correia said dancers young and old have been bonding during the production.

“I personally expect all my seniors to be looking after the little ones. I had them all in here earlier and they were doing all the little ones’ hair and makeup,” she said.

“It builds family, right? And that’s what I want for them.”

WHAT’S ON … Tempo Dance Academy’s Enchanted Christmas is back at the Port Theatre on Friday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. All seats $16.


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