Dance academy

Alberta Dance Academy hosts first in-person event since 2019

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It’s been a tough year, said Alberta Dance Academy owner and instructor Erica Hendry.


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Zoom classes, Zoom recitals and a little performance in a parking lot were all she could offer in 2020.

But her recent event, Dancing at the Drive-In, from June 15-27, was bigger and better than she imagined, with other dance studios joining in and companies such as High River Drive-In offering their help.

Hendry knew early on that the costs for her studio to host an outdoor event over a weekend were more than she could manage on her own.

“I thought to myself, well, what if we extended the event to two weeks and tried to book as many studio recitals as possible, and maybe we could even organize dance competitions with us . Lo and behold, despite all the changes and restrictions and so on, we ended up booking about 12 days of dancing.

Thus, Hendry and its business partners managed a three-month competition period in two weeks, with studios in Cochrane, Calgary, High River and Okotoks.

Eight booking recitals and 15 other studios participated in two competitions. A total of 800 to 1,000 dancers take the stage.

The High River Drive-in Theater was chosen to keep the event local, a partnership that made the full event possible. Corporate sponsorships from High River, Okotoks and Calgary were received.

Hendry said booking the event without confirmed studios was a big risk, but she got down to business.

She put together a package and reached out to every studio owner she knew and every competition she was entered into, and told them about the space.


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“I felt crazy for a long time. I thought, ‘what am I doing? And how are we going to achieve that? “

Once studios and competitions started booking, she felt relieved. She might actually succeed. And then the most recent lockdown happened.

“I thought it was three months of work,” Hendry said.

And there were more challenges. Along with event costs and possible lockdown restrictions, this small studio has had to deal with wild winds and heat waves.

“The first few days we had like an epic windstorm. It’s something we haven’t even thought about,” Hendry said.

The wind blowing over the fields covered everything with earth. Keeping the stage clean and safe for the performers was a challenge. They poured five gallon buckets of water on the stage and wiped it down between each performance to cool and clean the stage.

To better manage the extreme temperatures, she rented fans and misters to keep the performers cool during the heatwave.

“The kids were so strong and they were so determined to dance and play for their parents. It’s one of the only places where they were able to have an audience. So it was quite spectacular for them. Nothing held them back from that scene, I don’t think.

But it all came together in the end. The event took place during Stage 2 of the Government of Alberta’s reopening plan, so vehicles lined up with a view of the stage and screen. Relatives and friends sat with their windows down, tailgates open, in the back of their trucks or socially distanced in lawn chairs and enjoyed the show.


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“There was definitely this fun music festival atmosphere. In a kind of pandemic.

Hendry now thinks of next year. She loves the outdoors theme and floats the idea of ​​an outdoor summer festival. She’s also looking to keep the collaboration alive with a recital booking package for local studios.

“It still feels like a dream. I don’t really recognize what we managed to do, but it was kind of a magical show. For 14 days, I got to see a glimpse of each of these studios’ cultures and watch their kids and parents beam as the kids played, and lots of tears of joy were shed.

“So it was really, really special to be a part of that.”



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