They all started as little tykes tentatively holding their tiaras in place while trying to remember what foot had to go where first.
On Saturday evening, as young ladies, they had to say goodbye to this part of the dance world that has been such a big part of their lives for a dozen years or more.
The graduating class from the Drewitz School of Dance is fairly significant this year and more than a few tears spilled onto cheeks as they bid a formal adieu to their head instructor for all these years, Lori-Gay Drewitz Gallaway.
The eight grads who were available to speak with The Mercury just before Friday afternoon's final rehearsal before their farewell dances during the dance school's annual recital on Saturday, spoke about their passion for dance ... a love affair that began at an early age and one that carried them through for a dozen years or more.
For Zoe Sereggela it's been an incredible 13-year journey of training and confidence building that began when she got her mother to enrol her in the school at the age of four. Tap dance was one skill she gravitated toward, but she pretty well tried it all and gained strength along with that confidence.
“I was always dancing as a little girl,” she said with a quiet smile.
Bailey Holzer started a little later. She was eight when the dance bug hit her and now she has it engrained in her routine to the point where she figures she'll continue to learn more about dance as she pursues post-secondary school studies.
“I liked all the dances. I guess I was just passionate about learning all I could,” she said.
Kirstie Yergens, who is another senior at ECS, has just tapped out of formal training at the Drewitz School after a lengthy 15 years as a steady student at the dance school, a second home that she first attended as a rather shy three-year-old whose mother felt the experience would enrich her lifestyle. Bingo!
“Ballet is my favourite, dancing is incredible. It helps me stay in shape,” she said with a chuckle.
Shannon Lee completed 12 years of training at Drewitz where she began as a five-year-old. She admits she likes all kinds of artistic expression including visual arts but “dance is the main thing for me. I like ballet the most too,” she said.
Kiera Baryluk, another graduate after 13 years attending the school on Second Street, said dancing became an obvious choice for her and her parents because “I was always dancing around the house and they kept trying to hold me down,” she laughed.
Ballet and jazz were two dance disciplines that she enjoyed the most, but again, it was an opportunity to try it all. Kiera hopes to add to her dance skills so she can become a teacher/instructor at the Drewitz School where she was often found lending a hand to the younger dancers.
Fifteen years is a long time for a dance career, but when you start at the age of three like Jaide Strutt, you still have years ahead of you in which to explore dance options. Jaide enjoyed her experiences as a dancer and singer so she gravitated toward musical theatre performances at the Drewitz School. “I like them both and when you get to do them together, I love it,” she said. “My friends and my mom convinced me to give it a try. I'll keep dancing, but probably won't go into it that hard anymore. I want to be a dentist, so I don't know how much time I'll have for it, but there will be some for sure.”
Halee Pachal got into the wonderful world of Drewitz Dance as an eight-year-old and has now completed 10 years of training. She remembers quite clearly how she got involved as a Grade 2 student. She said her friends influenced her a lot. She's tried lots of other extracurricular activities but she's always returned to dance as the one thing she's most attracted to. She enjoyed her training in tap dancing the most, but that didn't hold her back from trying a lot of other dance stylings. She's off to university where she hopes to maintain or even add to her skills.
Kara Graves started in the school as a three-year-old and she has really enjoyed her years learning the subtle skills of jazz dancing which was her favourite, but like the others, she more than dabbled in the other forms. She'll keep dancing and fit it in with her university studies.
“When I was just a little girl, mom asked me if I was interested and I say, yes, yes, and now here we are,” she said with a smile.
Asked if they ever simply got tired of the training ... if they ever felt burned out and just wanted to quit, each girl provided a quizzical, what kind of question is that? Look.
Of course not.
“OK, there might have been a day or two when I might feel tired, but you still want to learn, you keep going,” said Kiera, whose response pretty well spoke for the group.
On Saturday night this class of 2012, wrapped up their formal training careers at the Drewitz School of Dance by performing in the school's 29th annual recital in the ECS Cafetorium.
The theme for this year's event? Dancing Memories, the Best Years of Your Life.
No one needs to second that motion, it's a slam-dunk unanimous decision by these grads.
Note: The ninth graduate Shauna McNaughton, was not available for a chat due to the rehearsal time demands but we feel confident in including her within the group as being one young lady who has been totally passionate about exploring the world of dance over the years.