While most of us plan summer vacations running our fingers through a camping guide, 26 St. Albert dancers are hoofing for their supper while sailing on a nine-day Eastern Caribbean cruise.
The Art of Dance’s special collection of Stardust Dancers was recently invited by Princess Cruise Lines to perform a 30-minute show from July 17 to 26. This is the first time the prestigious cruise line has featured a non-profit group.
Mariko Collins, 17, relishing this first-time cruise, sees herself as a Canadian goodwill ambassador determined to help create a high-end production. “It’s an honour to be chosen and there’s a lot of pressure. We’re the first group they’ve invited, so we have to make it an awesome show,” says the Bellerose student.
Under the wing of Art of Dance founder Sherri Urkow and co-director Tracy Sestito, the troupe has rehearsed up to 12 hours a week polishing Viva Las Vegas, a jazz-cabaret style production that salutes the glitz and glamour of the world’s most famous gambling town.
Before the girls fly out, the snappy Stardust Dancers plan to bring Vegas to St. Albert and will kick up their heels in a special benefit show this coming Tuesday at the Arden Theatre. Every major pillar of Vegas gets a nod from Cirque du Soleil, Elvis and Lady Luck to magicians, showgirls and hotels.
“Viva Las Vegas is more visual than anything else we’ve done. It really moves and is very intense. We put the music on and it doesn’t stop. The patterns that are created and special effects will get the audience excited,” says Urkow.
One of the highlights is the homage to Caesar’s Palace three great divas — Cher, Bette Midler and Celine Dion, performed by respective Stardust alumni Janelle Gallant, Jordan Reichert and Odessa Wowk.
A second part of the local program features a variety show of 45 performers from the Art of Dance professional program. Their eclectic dances— from Latin and jazz to ballet and hip hop — were originally developed for competition.
In addition the dancers’ fathers are spoofing it up in Dancing With the Stars, a comedic ballroom number. “Every year they’re the favourites,” Urkow says.
While the Stardust dancers are excited about performing for the community, they’re also counting the days until they board the Caribbean Princess. Simone Heatley, 18, sailed with Stardust on Carnival Glory back in 2006 and was surprised at the ship’s stability.
What the Grade 12 Paul Kane High student remembers most and hopes to repeat again is the sense of camaraderie. “You get to know everyone. It’s like one big happy family. We’d walk down the hallway and people would recognize us. I had such a feeling of pride. You know you did your best work and people smiled. It’s such a good feeling.”
Stardust Gala Presents Viva Las Vegas
Tuesday, June 30 at 7 p.m.
Tickets: $12 adults, $8 students/seniors
Call Arden box office 780-459-1542