|The Pacific Ballroom Dance Company presented “Rise” in three performances on June 1st and 2nd at the Auburn Performing Arts Center. Dancers performed 28 pieces of choreography featuring all styles of Ballroom and Latin dance. More than 120 students ages 7-18, and over 20 adult alumni participated in this concert (not to mention 7 brave daddies). 1701 audience members attended.
Celebrating 15 years
With this concert, PBD celebrated it’s 15-year anniversary as a non-profit organization. Alumni were featured dancing along with current students in a Broadway show piece. Many of these students could be seen weeping openly, filled with emotion as they returned to perform with PBD. A media presentation showed alumni explaining how Pacific Ballroom Dance has helped them grow not just as dancers but as individuals with character. Jordan Evans said, “The experience that I had with the team in building strength and building character is something that allowed me to learn to draw from myself, to draw from the power within.”
“Rise” theme celebrates resilience
The empowering of youth to draw strength and power from within themselves inspired this year’s concert theme, “Rise.”
This theme bound the concert together as a cohesive whole. At key points in the program, the audience listened to Maya Angelou recite her poem “Still I Rise” as dancers moved to the rhythm of her voice. This built to a celebration of strength and determined grit in the face of difficulty. When the Finale arrived, audience members felt connected to the performers as they danced emotions of triumph and unity. “The closing number was very moving and powerful,” said Kevin Bolland of Bonney Lake. “It brought tears to my eyes. What an amazing group of talented young dancers.”
In between the intensity of these heartfelt routines, our audience was entertained with whimsy and fun. There were giant red balloons from Paris, a wild Lindy Hop at a 1950s prom, ninjas battling for a prince, and the preteen show performing “Dance Like Yo Daddy” with their actual Dads performing the Sprinkler and the Cabbage Patch! This concert truly took audiences through all of the heights of human emotion.
The great success of this concert can be attributed to the high level of dancing from each team and individual, the quality and creativity of the choreography that showcased the dancers at every age and ability, and excellent stage management. One parent commented, “This was the most successful concert I have seen. The transitions were perfect, the flow of the show was outstanding, and from beginning to end you were thoroughly entertained. Two hours felt like 30 mintues!”
During our concert, volunteers filled an amazing 120 different positions from bringing food to collecting tickets to breaking down after the show. From helping in the dressing room to ushering in the theater, these indispensable people made the great machine of concert week hum!
Retiree Helen Babcock brought two of her friends from senior living center Julian Estates where she lives. The three women left the concert beaming. “I have been all around the world and watched shows in London, Paris, and on Broadway. This was the most entertaining show I have seen and I won’t miss another one.”
The PBD spring concert is meant to entertain and demonstrate the power of ballroom dance to create beauty in the world and in the lives of it’s dancers. This is evident on stage but also in the time between performances.
Before each performance, the staff and students gathered to reflect and encourage each other. Executive Director Heather Longhurst gave each student a little sticker of a four leaf clover. “Place it on the bottom of your shoe,” she said, “a reminder that we love you and are with you every step.”
Students also took the opportunity to open their hearts. Preteen dancer Brook Graney asked if she could share her feelings to the group. “Some people, they told me I couldn’t dance, and that I couldn’t do a lot of things that I loved,” she said with emotion in her voice. “I have a getaway that actually makes me feel good. I love it here and it means so much.”