Merritt ballerinas picked up more than just awards at a Kamloops festival earlier this month; they got a chance to gauge their progress against other B.C. dancers.
Dancers from Linda's Dance Studio, the only dance organization in Merritt, picked up a total of eight awards for their performances at the Kamloops Dance Festival March 14 and 15, part of the 79th annual Kamloops Festival of the Performing Arts.
First place gold seal diploma winners, determined by adjudicator Sally Ogden of the Association of the Royal Academy of Dance, included Avery Warren, for demi-character; Danica Guichon, for character; and Sydney Willson, for character.
About a handful of Merritt dancers competed in 11 of about 80 dance categories at the Sagebrush Theatre. There were over 700 dance entries from various places across the province.
"True to form, Merritt dancers shone again at the Kamloops Dance Festival," said Linda Sanford, Linda's Dance Studio instructor.
"The arts are thriving, and I think it's important for people to know that dance is strong here."
Second place certificate winners included Danica Guichon, for classical; Miya Kandola, for character; and Emmagin Richardson and Sydney Willson, for demi-character duet. Third place certificates went to Mackenzie Willson, for classical, and Emmagin Richardson, for demi-character.
"It's really good for kids to see other kids from other schools," said Sue Reedman, office administrator with the festival. "Everyone sees something from another area, and they learn it."
The festival, which included other performing arts categories, like voice and piano, ran from Feb. 26 to March 18. Merritt vocalist Cameron Snee received a scholarship and will move on to provincials in the voice category.
As for what's next for Sanford and her group of Merritt dancers, they plan on performing a "water show" in an effort to bring awareness to water issues in the region.
"We're going to do a water show featuring Beatles music, "Octopus's Garden", says Sanford. "We'll have an octopus, a yellow submarine, and pirate ladies and sailors—and seaweed."
The ballerinas will also prepare for their upcoming exams for the Royal Academy of Dance Ballet later this spring.
"Then we're going to do year-end outdoor shows," says Sanford.