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Humboldt to be bombarded by 1,100 dancers

Humboldt will be all a-glitter when over 1,100 dancers invade the city in late April. A total of 1,115 dancers are set to take part in the annual On Stage Dance Festival from April 18-22 at the Humboldt Uniplex.
RaeAnn Thibault of DK Dance Visions in Humboldt was one of over 600 dancers who used the Humboldt Curling Rink to rehearse performances for the On Stage Dance Festival held in Humboldt April 15-17, 2011. This year, over 1,100 dancers will be competing on stage in Humboldt at the festival.

Humboldt will be all a-glitter when over 1,100 dancers invade the city in late April. A total of 1,115 dancers are set to take part in the annual On Stage Dance Festival from April 18-22 at the Humboldt Uniplex. That's a new record number for this festival."This town is going to be bombarded with little dancers, both male and female," said Cori Norman, chair of the On Stage Dance Festival committee."There is going to be hairspray and glitter everywhere," joked vice-chair Colleen Kopp during an interview with the Journal last week. Dancers will be coming to the festival from as close to home as Humboldt and Lake Lenore, and as far away as Watrous, Saskatoon, Canora, Moosomin and Kelvington, to name a few. Registrations for the festival have exploded in 2012. In 2011, just over 600 dancers took part in the event, which started Friday after school and ran over the weekend. This year, in order to accommodate nearly double that number of dancers, the event will start Wednesday night and will continue until Sunday - that's two whole days longer than last year. "We're being recognized as a lead (event) with recreational dancers," Norman said. The On Stage Dance Festival is only for recreational dancers, she explained. On Stage defines recreational dancers as those who receive no more than one hour of theory per discipline per week. That definition covers most clubs in this area, and some in the urban areas as well. Even more competitive clubs are bringing their recreational dancers to On Stage, Norman said. "It's really rewarding for us to be recognized that way."And though the dancers are classified as recreational, the performances they give are phenomenal, Norman and Kopp indicated. "There are so many impressive dancers," Norman said. The entire event will be taking place at the Uniplex again this year. "Everyone has really enjoyed the facility change," said Norman. The staff at the Uniplex was just phenomenal last year, she noted, even in the midst of renovations to the lobby area. "I can't wait for people to see it this year," Norman noted. The festival, which morphed into the On Stage Dance Festival from the Quill Plains Dance Festival, was traditionally held at Humboldt Collegiate Institute, in Sutherland Theatre. "We had a great thing there," Norman said of Sutherland Theatre. But relocating to the Uniplex has given those attending more parking and more room, as they use not only the community hall area, but the curling rink and lobby, and the arena lobby as well. "There's just such a welcoming atmosphere," Norman said. "Everyone really, really liked it."The new flooring purchased for the festival, and their new system of adjudication also went over well in 2011. Last year, Norman explained, they introduced paperless adjudication. Dancers now get a video tape of their performance with audio comments by the judges. The videos are emailed, Norman explained, within three days of judging. Not only does this allow the dancers to watch a video of their performance, and hear exactly what the judges felt was good, or what needed improvement, it also sped up the adjudication process somewhat, and got rid of the reams of paper they used to go through. This new system of judging was developed by Evan Jenkins, who this year has devised a system so that computers looking after registration, adjudication, medals, and the backstage area are all networked. This way, Kopp explained, they know right away who has won awards, who won't be dancing, and the like. "It's our newest investment. We are truly going paperless," Norman said. Also new this year will be commercial screens placed around the facility that will feature a live feed of the competition. These will be available for other groups to use as well, for their events, Norman noted. "We're really excited about it," she said.There are no workshops at the festival this year - it's just competition, and a trade show in the building as well. However, the event will wrap up once again with a Golden Ticket Dance-off, this year split into two age categories. The adjudicators will select five groups of dancers 13 and over, and three groups of those 12 and under to perform in the dance-off. They then will take 50 per cent of their mark from the judges and combine it with 50 per cent of votes from the audience to determine the winners. The first-place older group will win $1,000, and the other placements will get cash as well. The adjudicators won't necessarily choose those groups who receive very high marks for the dance-off. Instead, they hand the golden tickets out to those performances that simply strike them as amazing: if the choreography is spectacular, or even if it looks like the group is having a lot of fun on stage. Sometimes, the adjudicators will go up and hand a group a golden ticket immediately after they finish dancing. That adds another element of excitement to the day, Norman noted. "It just gives the kids a little more... (it) makes them work a little harder on the stage, because the possibility is there for everyone."The performances in the dance-off, she added, are usually spectacular. "You never see them perform as well as in those few minutes," she said. "That is the ultimate performance."New this year to the festival will be an award for the best choreographers. Throughout the day, the adjudicators will award marks to choreographers, and those will be tallied up for an award at the end of the festival. The committee has also added a category for Productions - huge numbers that involve upwards of 30 to 40 dancers or the entire dance studio - and last for as long as 20 minutes. "Productions... take an incredible amount of work to put on," Norman said, so they wanted to recognize them this year. "All these little things, are to encourage (their) efforts," Norman said of the dancers. Though they have a group of very dedicated volunteers, it takes hundreds to run an event like this one, Norman noted. If anyone wishes to volunteer, they can contact Norman or Kopp.