A passion for musical theatre and love of dance drives Josh Graetz. His name may be familiar, as the male lead in Stelly’s recent production of the Pajama Game, he was in his element. He will be again this weekend among the dancers of all ages who will take the stage in the 17th annual Danceworks festival performance.
“We’re a community festival that is open to all dancers in the community, pretty much any age,” said Wendy Vernon, festival coordinator for Victoria DanceWorks. “We like to be really inclusive.”
Dancing since he was seven, 16-year-old Gaetz is scoring some success this year. The Allegro Performing Arts student danced in provincial competition last year, and earned a place again this May in Nanaimo. He also took top honours in the senior tap and senior jazz in the competition segment of Danceworks 2012 in February. It was a humbling experience.
“The people I was up against were incredible dancers; veterans of provincials,” he said.
This week, dancers take part in the performance portion of Danceworks in the Charlie White Theatre. Gaetz expects to get even more feedback from the dance specialists on hand.
“The adjudicators are always great,” he said. “I think they have so much to give, not just [for] us dancers, but the audience.”
Dancers take the stage in groups and are not compared with each other with the goal of learning from the dance specialist, each other and from the experience.
“It’s like a show when you go see the festival days,” she said. “What we’ve tried to do is structure it so each performance is evaluated on its own merits, as opposed to being compared to another.”
Dances include tap, street, jazz, ballet, musical theatre and ballet.
“We bring in those uniquely qualified in each of their disciplines,” Vernon said.
Danceworks runs April 9 to 15 at the Mary Winspear Centre. Visit victoriadanceworks.ca and click on the schedule to find a preferred dance or dancer.
a gala finish
The event wraps with two gala performances, April 22 at 2 p.m. in the Charlie White Theatre and May 12 at the Royal Theatre in Victoria.
“It will be some of the very, very best performances that these specialists select from among the 300 that they’re seeing,” Vernon said.