The auditorium at A.E. Peacock Collegiate will be bustling with activity over the next few days as the high school is playing host to Dance Inspirations presented by the Moose Jaw Festival of Dance.
Ten dance studios from across Saskatchewan and Alberta are taking part in the competition, including Doris Sitter School of Dance and Dance Images by BJ, both hailing from Moose Jaw.
The festival, which features over 970 entrants ranging in age from 5 to 19, started Wednesday and will wrap up with the Dance Challenge on Sunday. The junior category will get underway at 3:30 pm, with the seniors starting at 6 pm. Tickets for the Dance Challenge are $10 at the door. Sessions get underway at 9 am on both Saturday and Sunday.
"I think that people underestimate how amazing the arts are and dance in particular on the Prairies," remarked Tania Holzer Moneso, President of the Moose Jaw Festival of Dance. "I can tell you that meeting more and more adjudicators in the industry, they come here and they're quite blown away by what we have. They're amazed at the caliber of dancing that is here in the province. Moose Jaw has a fine tradition of dancing, with having some strong studios in such a small city."
She notes the number of entrants this year is more than double from 2022.
The festival features a variety of dance styles including jazz, tap, ballet, musical theatre, hip hop, Broadway, point, contemporary, modern, acro, and more.
Holzer Moneso says they are one of the highest awarding competitions in the country.
"We have a lot of different scholarships. That's one of the cool things about festival is that we give back to dancers...We're going to be upwards of $30,000 in scholarship money. We have the citizens of Moose Jaw and area to thank for some of that because we've got some great scholarship sponsors."
This year marks the 62nd year for the festival.
Holzer Moneso says the Moose Jaw Festival of Dance, which is a non-profit entity, is one of the last festivals that is completely run by volunteers. There are 17 members on the organizing committee, and nearly 70 volunteers that help out with the festival.
The adjudicators this year are Rhea Bowman, Shawn Byfield, and Shawn Hounsell, who is originally from Saskatchewan.
Tickets for the Moose Jaw Festival of Dance are available at the door. The cost is $40 for a weekend pass. A day pass will cost you $15, while individual session passes are priced at $8. Tickets for the Dance challenge are $10.