By Steffanie Costigan - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on November 28, 2023.
Chinook High School hits the stage with its dance production, Natura, which runs for three nights starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Chinook Media Centre.
Tickets for the performance can be purchased for $10 for adults, and $8 for students and seniors, on the school’s website, https://chs.lethsd.ab.ca, through school, cash or in person.
Alisha Hornberger, Chinook dance instructor and artistic director, said this year’s theme was inspired by nature.
“Every year, I think about what I want to do for a theme for the show,” Hornberger says. “This last summer I had an amazing opportunity to go out east and go to the Maritimes and (see) this awesome, beautiful, amazing nature, their oceans, and hills and beaches, and just amazing things. And then I also went camping to B.C. and saw amazing nature things there. And I was like, wouldn’t it be an awesome opportunity to celebrate nature, through dance, and really explore how we can express how we feel and what we think nature is through movement.”
Jonah Stuckart, student dancer and choreographer, says the audience can expect to see a variety of styles of dances.
“They can expect a lot of diversity,” Stuckart says. “We have pop wow dancers, we have afro beat, we have Latin jazz, we have contemporary, hip hop, jazz, literally almost everything that you could think about nature is in this.”
Brooke Fitzhenry, another student dancer and choreographer, agrees.
“There’s a lot of variety,” Fitzhenry adds. “We have lots of contemporary, we have lots of hip hop, we have some jingle dancing, and lots of other things, jazz and all sorts of styles.”
Forty two students from grades 9 to 12 will perform 29 different dances, and will reflect hours of work and practice.
“I’m so proud of all of my students,” Hornberger says. “We’ve been working since September, and there’s been rehearsals every day. Some students have rehearsals, like two or three times a week, and this also includes my dance performance class, which is a group of amazing dancers.”
Stuckart also promises amazing performances, and says the audience can expect the unexpected. “One minute it could be nice and calm, but then next it’ll be very hot,” she says.
Fitzhenry says the dancers worked hard, but it is worth it and it shows in the performances.
“It’s a short time span, but we pulled it together and we work as a group,” Fitzhenry says. “A lot of effort goes into it, but it’s all worth it, and it’s so much fun.”
The performance, which will run for about 90 minutes, not only celebrates nature but addresses a special Indigenous Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving.
“I really wanted to bring in an indigenous perspective, because I feel like that’s really important,” Hornberger says. “We are so lucky to have three Grade 9 students who are pow wow dancers. They’re performing fancy dance and a jingle dance. And then I also felt it was really important for us to express gratitude to nature.”
The performance will also display a video presentation of the student dancers recording Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving greetings sharing different aspects of nature.
“We love dance, and we love nature, and being able to represent dance is such a joy for all of us. And I think what’s really special about our program is that we have dancers who have been dancing for years, and we have dancers who just started dancing this year with us. We have a whole gamut of experience levels, but what’s really special about that is that each student can learn from each other and they can all lift each other up.”