Director Ivana Ho (second row, left) and the members of Bohemia Ballet are getting the chance to tour B.C. schools as part of the ArtStarts in Schools program. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo’s Bohemia Ballet to tour with support from charity ArtStarts in Schools

Dance company will tour B.C. schools from September to June 2019

Nanaimo’s Bohemia Ballet dance company will be bringing dance to schools on Vancouver Island and beyond with the support of a arts advocacy charity.

After an unsuccessful application last fall, director Ivana Ho said she was surprised her dancers were accepted into the Showcase program offered by ArtStarts in Schools, a Vancouver-based organization that works to connect young people to art through education and programming.

“Two years ago when I applied and I didn’t get it I was super disappointed, so this time I didn’t even expect that we were going to get it because it’s really hard,” Ho said.

On Monday, Feb. 26 Bohemia Ballet will perform with the other successful arts groups at the ArtStarts Showcase at Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre. There Ho will have the chance to meet with educators and school board representatives interested in booking her dance company.

“If you get in [ArtStarts] now, you can stay in the system and you can perform every year for the next 10 years so it’s really good because we can change our show and do something different next year and then people already know who we are,” Ho said.

Bohemia Ballet, which, despite its name, covers modern, jazz, tap and street dance, will be touring from between September 2018 and June 2019. Ho said the dancers will visit elementary, middle and high schools, performing two shows each day. The program covers the history of dance and the attendees will be taught a break dancing routine.

“For the dancers, it will give them the opportunity to perform a lot,” Ho said, adding that, “touring, for a dancer, is the fun part.”

“Every day you’re somewhere else and you go as a group and it’s a community kind of feel and when I was young I used to love touring because it was every day’s a different city, different people, different schools and the reaction you get back is so satisfying and rewarding.”

Ho expects most of the group’s performances will be on the Island, as Bohemia Ballet was the only Nanaimo-area dance company to get into the program, but they may travel into the interior if schools show an interest.

“Maybe people like us so much that they will go, ‘Hey, come to Prince George.’ And then if we go so far away ArtStarts will book us a whole tour so we’ll do a whole week or two weeks and we every day we’ll do a school in that area,” she said.

Ho said she hopes the touring gives her dancers get a taste for what it’s like to perform professionally and helps prepare them for future jobs in dance.

“They will already know what’s required from them: I have to be on time … I have to stay fit, this is what I’m going to have to eat if I want to stay fit, I have to rehearse really hard and then perform for an audience and use everything I can in that show because it’s my job.”

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