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Lethbridge documentary goes behind the scenes of dance during pandemic

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WATCH ABOVE: The COVID-19 pandemic is keeping the LCI Arts Academy dance program from hosting its usual live performance, but the show must go on. As Erik Bay shows us, this year the students are bringing their moves to the big screen. – Jun 16, 2021

The Show Goes On.

A fitting title for the LCI Arts Academy dance program’s documentary, showcasing the students’ year of dance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Artistic director Geordan Olson said the program knew it would have to do its year-end performance virtually, but decided to take it one step further.

“One of my students gave the suggestion in class,” Olson said. “She’s like, ‘Well, if we’re going to do a virtual dance show, why don’t we show behind-the-scenes footage of how we train the class?'”

With program co-director Koji Nagahama filming the process, students went to work learning their choreography in true pandemic fashion — over Zoom.

Read more: COVID-19: Lethbridge businesses ‘excited’ and ‘cautious’ over Stage 2

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Poor WiFi connections and lagging video feeds made synchronizing dance moves a bit of a challenge, but it was a process the students ultimately enjoyed.

“Being on and off Zoom and in quarantine, it was hard to be together all the time,” said Grade 11 LCI Art Academy dance student Ceili deBoer. “Being able to go through the adversity together was more of a bonding experience.”

Taylor Wichers, who is also a dancer in Grade 11, echoed her classmate.

“Learning through Zoom was very difficult but it was a great experience and I don’t think I would change it.”

Virtual learning did give the students the chance to work with several different choreographers in cities across the country, including Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

“It was a way for me as a dancer to get to learn from different people and get experiences that I would have never gotten,” deBoer said.

“I didn’t know how it would go, but in the end, it turned out to be really amazing,” Olson said.

The students have already seen the documentary and Wichers enjoyed reflecting on the class’ growth throughout the year.

“The beginning of the film was more, you know, we were all new at this,” Wichers said.

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“We were learning through Zoom, and towards the end of the film, it progressed into something beautiful and it was amazing.”

Read more: Lethbridge high school presents 2020 dance show ‘Khoros’

Olson said Nagahama was key to creating the documentary, filming and editing the video on top of his coaching duties.

“He is the one who did all the behind-the-scenes footage. He edited everything and put it together,” Olson said.

“Looking at the documentary, everything was so well put together,” Wichers said. “Koji, the producer, our breakdancing coach… we couldn’t have done it without him.”

Nothing compares to a live performance, but Olson is happy her students can still show off the work they put in this year — on and off the stage.

“I think it’s really special, especially for our graduate students who have been in the program since Grade 9,” Olson said.

“I think this is a really incredible memory that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.”

The documentary premieres at the Movie Mill on June 28 and 29.

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