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My Dancing Queen Isn’t Seventeen

The Girl Just Can’t Stop Dancing

It’s been a hell of a year for Beth-Rose. As you know, she’s a dancer. My dancing queen. If you didn’t know that, you haven’t been reading my posts. I’ll forgive you this one time. Just go back and read my old articles. All of them. Done? Great! Now, try to keep up…

Beth-Rose has performed in several festivals and competitions this year. Way back in February she danced about 7 solos and 5 or 6 group dances at the Cowichan Music Festival, where she earned a ticket to the Performing Arts BC Provincial Festival. Her solo dance, Murder Song, absolutely slayed! (See what I did there?) Here’s an article in one of the Vancouver Island newspapers, along with photos. Beth-Rose is the 5th photo.

And this is her week! My dancing queen is currently dancing and participating in classes at the Provincials in Fort St. John, way up in Northern BC. Heather is tagging along to keep her from partying too much. And she’s there with 5 other dancers from her dance studio, Rhythm Dance Academy (RDA). Not a bad showing for the Little Studio That Could!

My dancing queen and her fellow Provincial dance participants in Fort St. John, BC
The Rhythm Dance crew at Provincials in Fort St. John Courtesy RDA Facebook

The talent from this studio is incredible. Considering Ladysmith has only about 11,000 people, the dancers from RDA consistently outperforms larger studios from Nanaimo and other much larger cities. RDA dancers can compete with even the big, full day dance academies. So how can this be?

The Driving Force

I think it comes down to two main reasons. Commitment and dedication. A dancer that does well at Rhythm has both qualities. But, perhaps more importantly, so does the studio’s Owner.

Elise Samson is the driving force at Rhythm. As artistic director and co-owner with her Mom, Tina, “Miss Elise” provides the choreography, the encouragement, commitment and dedication that motivates her students to perform at their best.

I am so thankful that Elise took over the local dance studio about 9 years ago. At the time, both our kids had been dancing in Nanaimo. Zachary started it all, and his little sister followed him when she was about 3 years old. But the drive to Nanaimo was taking up a lot of hours in the week. Heather was scrambling to get out of work in time to get the kids to dance. Dancing classes in Nanaimo were not sustainable.

When Soulfire Dance opened in Ladysmith, just down the hill from our home, we pulled the kids from the Nanaimo studio and joined Soulfire. Then Soulfire became Rhythm Dance Academy, with Miss Elise as one of the teachers. Later, Elise purchased the studio and made it her own.

Sadly, Zachary chose not to continue with dance. He was quite talented, and immersed himself in the classes and choreography. But he lost interest, and moved on. Both Beth-Rose and Zach sometimes lament the lost opportunity of performing a duet together. That would have been so much fun to watch!

My dancing queen. Beth-Rose and Zachary at the dance studio
Now imagine them about 10 years older…

A Role Model For Girls

My sister Deb used to tease me about having a daughter. She liked to tell me that, having a daughter was my punishment for a life of carefree irresponsibility. I fully expected that, when my little girl turned 13, I was in for a life of drama and teenage girl tragedy. A Mean Girl was going to be my lot in life, at least for a few years.

But I had the last laugh. Beth-Rose was not a mean girl. She wasn’t enmeshed in teen girl tragedy. And she didn’t get caught up in teenage drama. Hell, we have more drama from our cats! Instead, she became my dancing queen. How could that be? Great parenting? Well, yes, from Heather. Not from me! No, the biggest reason we escaped all the teen girl angst was because she found herself a mentor. Her dance teacher, Miss Elise.

For a teenage girl growing up in a small town, there are few activities after school and on weekends that keep her from getting caught up and sucked into less than savory shenanigans. Hanging out in Tim Hortons, wandering downtown or up into the forest and trying new things like booze and drugs. These are all too easy to fall into.

But having a place to go with a positive, encouraging and creative mentor, and finding a tribe of like-minded girls, means all that other crap is less appealing. And Elise’s little dance studio is a perfect “distraction”. She has done a wonderful job of helping my dancing queen find her passion. What a marvelous gift for someone still in high school! And for that, I am forever grateful.

Miss Elise. I stole this from Rhythm’s website.

Endless Creativity

I think one of the most amazing things about Miss Elise is her seemingly endless creativity. Let me give you an example.

At this year’s end of year dance production, held at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo, there were 32 dances. And 26 of them were choreographed by Miss Elise! But that doesn’t include all the solos and duets she also choreographed for the year! I mean, holy crap! I’m always amazed at Beth-Rose’s ability to learn all her solo, duet and group dances over the course of a dance year. But that’s nothing compared to the sheer creative capacity of this prolific artistic director.

And it’s not just volume. I mean, I could choreograph 26 versions of the hokey pokey, without too much effort. (This time, put your left foot in!) But when we’re at different festivals and competitions, it’s Elise’s choreography that stands out. Even with 6 or 7 studios participating, RDA’s choreography is consistently at a higher level than most others. Oh, and she manages to do all this with a one-year-old son!

This year has been a pretty remarkable year for talent at Rhythm. So many younger girls are excelling, with such a high level of talent. And I’m pretty sure that’s, in no small part, due to the commitment, encouragement, and love that Miss Elise has for this little studio. She is a mentor to so many more than just Beth-Rose.

When Marley Dances

But for most girls, graduation brings an end to their dancing life. A few go on to continue dance in some capacity in university, and fewer still pursue dance as a career. This year, six girls graduate, thus completing their dance career at RDA. It’s always a little sad, watching them dance their self-choreographed grad solos at the year end show.

One of the grads, Marley, ends her dance career and prepares to head off to university to pursue a completely different field. Watching her solo was bittersweet. We’ve had the pleasure of watching Marley grow into an incredibly talented performer. She became Rhythm’s standout dancer over the last few years, and has been invited to Provincials several times.

Marley has also been a mentor to many a young dancer at the studio, including Beth-Rose. She’s generous with her time, and has taught and choreographed her own classes. But when Marley dances, your eye is always drawn to her. She holds the audience with every move. And if she’s part of a group dance, there’s no doubt which one is Marley. Her energy is palpable.

Beth-Rose and Marley at Provincials

One of Marley’s talents is Modern Stage, which is really just a theatrical performance set to dance. She performed a hilarious Dr Evil, from the Austin Powers movies, last year! Modern Stage also happens to be one of Beth-Rose’s strengths. And this year, the two got to perform a duet together. And that duet went on to win them many awards. It was also a crowd favourite at festivals on the Island.

So what was the dance? Let me show you!

My Dancing Queen Has A Plan

So what’s next for Beth-Rose? Well, she’s got two more years of high school left, and two more years with Rhythm Dance. A lot can happen in two years, but she’s been thinking about her plans.

She and I had a nice chat one day a month or so ago. We were headed to the ferry to Saltspring Island for a camping weekend, and she shared some thoughts she’d been mulling.

For Beth-Rose, stopping dancing after she graduates is just not an option. She wants to keep going. She wants to dance professionally. But she also knows she can’t dance for her whole working life. So she has a plan to make dance a big part of her career, while also pursuing other business opportunities.

She has RESPs that won’t be eligible for the dance program she wants to audition for. So she plans to use them for some marketing and design programs where she can obtain certification. Those programs will help her with a business idea she’s formulating, for when she’s no longer dancing professionally.

I know it’s part of my job as a dad, but I am so proud of my dancing queen. And, dance or not, this girl is going to go places and have a wonderful life. I just can’t wait to see what’s next for her.

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Ean Lapshinoff
Ean Lapshinoff
15 days ago

Maybe she could do an ABBA tribute. 😉

David Tait
David Tait
16 days ago

Well done Beth-Rose and beautifully described Michael.

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