Dance Inspirations "for the kids": organizer

Justin Crann
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In spite of a long 55-year tradition, adjudicators and spectators are still amazed by the scope of and talent participating in the Dance Inspirations festival.

Katherine Fehr works through her jazz dance routine at the 2014 Dance Inspirations festival in the Peacock Collegiate auditorium on May 1.

Spawned out of the Moose Jaw Festival of Dance, the five-day festival draws dancers from across Saskatchewan and Alberta to Moose Jaw to compete in disciplines ranging from tap and ballet to jazz and hip-hop.

This year, it is adjudicated by Shawn Cheesman, Anthony LoCascio and Ronda Nychka-Cunningham.

“The adjudicators are always impressed with our festival,” said Darla Wutke, one of the event’s organizers. “They can’t believe we run a festival of this magnitude with volunteers.”

The festival, in fact, is completely organized and executed by volunteers — as many as 30 per day, Wutke told the Times-Herald.

“It takes people to do these kinds of things,” she said. “I started as a volunteer on the committee. From there I moved into the scholarships and awards committee. I’ve gone on to be the president.”

She has volunteered to work the festival for 15 years, she added, and her motivation is the kids.

Participants compete for more than just bragging rights. Up for grabs is over $32,000 in scholarships and cash prizes, in part provided by Mosaic.

“There are scholarships for hockey, for football, for just about everything, but not many for dance,” said Wutke. “This festival awards scholarships for that.”

For her part, the festival means a great deal — particularly because her kids compete in it.

“I’m just a dance mom. … We do this for the kids. We do this so the kids can have this educational opportunity and the chance to take all of their hard work over the year and put it on stage for everyone to see,” said Wutke.

But there’s something else that motivates her, as well.

“It’s also about the tradition,” said Wutke. “To keep the tradition of this festival alive for 55 years, that’s quite amazing.”

Members of the public are encouraged to attend and watch the sessions at the Peacock Collegiate auditorium. The event concludes Sunday. An all-access wristband is available for $30, day passes for $10 and single-session tickets for $5.

Organizations: Times-Herald

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Alberta, Moose Jaw

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