Dancers felt like movie stars after seeing themselves on the big screen

ST. STEPHEN – COVID-19 may have put a damper on a lot of events over the past year and a half, but that didn’t stop students from Katrina’s Danceworks in St. Stephen from being able to enjoy their annual dance recital. The group just did things a bit differently than they normally would. Katrina Dunwoody, owner of Katrina’s Danceworks decided since they couldn’t hold a live performance, they would do the next best thing, and the students would get to see themselves perform on the big screen.

Over this past weekend, Dunwoody held a special drive-in theatre style showing of the students’ dance routines on the big screen at the Ganong Nature Park. Dunwoody said they brought in Scott Legge and his Spartan TV crew from St. Stephen High School to record the dancers performing their routines while wearing their costumes. Then, the high school television crew edited the footage to create DVD’s that the dancers and their families got to watch at the drive-in, which was held over the evenings of Friday, May 28 and Saturday, May 29.

“It was awesome. They came in to all of my classes the week before last and filmed all of my dancers. Then, they took a week and edited all of the dances together onto a DVD,” said Dunwoody.

To make the event even more like a real drive-in movie, Dunwoody had representatives from the IWK at the event to sell popcorn, cotton candy, and bottled water. Families were able to pre-purchase tickets for the treats, and all food items were delivered to the cars by Dunwoody’s 16-year-old son, Carter. This ensured that nobody had to get out of their vehicles, and allowed everyone to maintain social distancing.

“It was all social distanced. They stayed in their vehicles and watched the recital DVD. The kids actually got to watch themselves on the big screen,” Dunwoody remarked.

Dunwoody said everyone was excited to be able to watch the performances on the big screen. She has a video of everyone honking and yelling, and said it was loads of fun. Following the event, Dunwoody said she had many parents telling her that their younger children are now running around telling people that they are movie stars because they got to see themselves on the big screen.

“It’s so cute. It was really fun. It went over really, really well,” said Dunwoody.

This is the first dance recital Dunwoody’s students have taken part in since 2019. In 2020, the dance studio was shut-down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said the dancers were unable to get their costumes and perform last year, so this year she took steps to ensure they would get to have their big night, and the parents would get to see their kids dance. Only a few families didn’t show up, due to the fact that their kids are very young and the event would be going on until late in the evening. But, they still were able to see their kids dance, and the dancers are able to watch themselves any time they please on the DVD.

“The parents haven’t seen their kids dance in two years,” said Dunwoody. “It was great. The reactions went over really well. The parents got to see their kids dance after two years. There was only a few that decided to just buy the DVD’s. You had the option to buy the DVD’s as well. Some people did both, and some people just bought the DVD’s.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only 35 vehicles were allowed to be in the parking lot for the drive-in dance recital. So, Dunwoody decided that in order for everyone to be able to attend, she would hold the event over two nights. She had 70 families that wanted to attend, and said the numbers worked out perfectly. She even had a couple of tickets left over. Everyone who wanted to attend was able to do so.

In a normal year, Dunwoody’s students would be getting ready for dance competitions right now. Unfortunately, Dunwoody has decided her students won’t be attending any competitions this year, just to be on the safe side. There is a competition taking place in Saint John in a couple of weeks, but since there are many dancers from all over the province taking part, she felt it would be safer for her dancers to sit this one out.

“I know that they would follow all the COVID rules, but still, we aren’t going. I didn’t want to put any of my students at risk. We’ll start fresh in the fall and hopefully next year we’ll go back to competitions,” said Dunwoody.

When asked if she would do something like this again, Dunwoody said she isn’t sure, because there is nothing like a live performance. She said it was loads of fun, and it was great to be able to do this since they have been so limited since last March, but she would much rather be able to host live recitals for people to attend.

“I don’t know if I would take it over a live performance, but it was an amazing night. It worked out. I’m really happy.”