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Carstairs dancers heading to Disneyland this summer

Seven dancers from Jitterbug Dance Academy in Carstairs attended the View Dance Challenge Nationals in B.C.
Jitterbug Dance Academy dancers and student teachers Coral Herbert, left, and Peyton Golder take time out from a recent class to pose for a photo. Submitted photo

CARSTAIRS - Three years after opening its doors for the first time, the Jitterbug Dance Academy in Carstairs continues to attract more and more dancers, with close to 150 students signed up in 2023.

More than a dozen of the academy’s dancers are set to perform in Disneyland this summer.

Founder and lead choreographer Sarah Walkey says sharing the love of dance with students ranging from young children to adults is all about working together and encouraging each other.

“Everybody goes out of their way to make sure everyone is included and happy. We put team spirit first. When they feel supported and empowered they do so much better,” Walkey said.

“We started two years ago and we had 30 kids. The second year we had about 80 kids and this year we have close to 150. We love it and it is wonderful.”

Based at the Uptown Gym at 104 - 10th Avenue N. in Carstairs, the academy features a great variety of dance styles, including ballet, hip hop, Irish, jazz, lyrical, contemporary and ballroom.

Originally from Edmonton, Walkey is a certified dance instructor with experience over many years.

Seven dancers from the academy attended the View Dance Challenge Nationals in B.C. in 2022, doing very well at that annual competition.

“Every morning they got to take classes from industry professionals who have worked on Broadway, are in New York City ballets, and who have choreographed for music videos ,” she said.

“In the afternoons they competed against dancers from all across the country. The girls did really well. They got a bunch of special awards and special mentions, as well as overall awards.

“It was cool for our little dance school only operating for two years and from small rural Alberta to go and get second place in a national competition. We were really proud of them all. It was amazing.”

This summer Jitterbug dancers will be performing in Disneyland as part of a Dance the Magic performance company program. 

“They are going to dance in the parade down Main Street in Disneyland,” she said. “They will be doing a jazz dance through the parade. Usually there is about 200 or so dancers.”

The Jitterbug dancers going to Disneyland range in age from seven to 16, with a total of 15 kids scheduled to go on the July 6-9 trip.

Once Walkey receives the choreography for the Disneyland performance from Dance the Magic officials she will be instructing the local dancers and getting them ready for the trip to California.

Meanwhile Jitterbug dancers are already getting ready for two competitions in April, one in Olds and the other the View Dance Challenge in Calgary.

“Anyone who wants to compete can compete,” she said. “Our competitive team this year has 50 dancers, and the other 100 or so are recreational.”

Carstairs’ Peyton Golder, 14, is a dancer who has been with Jitterbug since the academy started three years ago.

“I like dancing here because it is kind and very nice and positive. It is super fun overall,” Golder said. 

She did very well at nationals last year, winning a full scholarship to the convention. She is now a student teacher with Jitterbug, having completed an extensive training program that includes a written exam.

Carstairs’ Coral Herbert, 14, has been with Jitterbug for two years.

“We have a very good attitude about everything,” said Herbert. “Everyone helps everyone out and encourages everyone. We all cheer for each other and it is very welcoming.”

Herbert is also a student teacher. She says she is excited to be preparing for the upcoming competitions.

Dan Singleton

About the Author: Dan Singleton

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