It was a combination of excitement and anxiety backstage at the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium, as young dancers went through their routines one final time.
Brandon Festival of the Arts kicked off its week of dance competition Monday.
Sixteen-year-old Sarah Vickers, who is a student at Dance Images, was preparing for her lyrical dance performance.
"I love going on stage," she said. "It’s exciting … a lot of adrenaline."
Off to the side, Sarah’s mother Shannon Vickers, watched as her daughter prepared to take the stage.
"I think I get more nervous than she does," Shannon said with a laugh.
Katie Brooks, 13, a student at Steppin’ Time Dance Studio has been dancing since she was just a toddler. Dance has become her passion.
"Especially lyrical. I love it because we get to show expression and our feelings," she said. "If we’re having troubles in life, then we can express it through dance."
Brooks said preparing for the festival takes dedication and many hours of practice.
"You have to be committed, and you have to be committed to your team," she said. "My dance teacher is like my second mother."
Dance instructor Tamara Hicks said those minutes before taking the stage are nerve-racking for both the performer and the teacher.
"You want them to do the best they can, and you can see they’ve put so many hours into it … you just hope and pray that they can keep it together out there," Hicks said. "A lot of time goes into it, and it’s very, very rewarding to get on stage for them especially when they’ve worked hard."
Brandon Festival of the Arts is marking its 86th year. This year’s festival is nearly at the halfway point. It began Feb.11 and runs until March 13. The categories of speech arts, vocal and choral have been completed. The dance portion runs until March 2.
Guitar, piano, strings, brass and woodwinds are still to come.
Hicks said the festival is an excellent opportunity for young performers to get on stage and hear from the adjudicators.
"Hearing different opinions and positive critiques, and maybe critiques that will help with their future if dance is what they want to do, then that’s the best way to get some other feedback," Hicks said.
An estimated 1,400 people will participate in this year’s festival, ranging in age from three to mid-80s.
"They are adjudicated by experts in their field, so that’s great for them," said Maureen Stitt, president of the Brandon Festival of the Arts board. "They receive feedback, they get to perform in front of people, maybe people who wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see them otherwise."
With more than 100 volunteers working at the festival, it is a real community effort.
"It couldn’t run without the volunteers," Stitt said. "I’m constantly amazed at how much goes on behind the scenes … and extremely grateful for all the help."
Volunteers are still needed for the remainder of the festival. Stitt encourages interested individuals to call 727-1189.
"The calibre of performances is great," she said. "If people are looking for something to do, they can pop over during dance week."
There is a $2 admission charge.
The Encore Concert will take place March 13 at the Lorne Watson Recital Hall, featuring the very best from each discipline, as recommended by the adjudicators.
Programs are available at festival venues for $5, as well as at Ted Good Music, Brandon University School of Music office, Surridge’s Music Centre and Pirouette Active Wear.