Encore Dance Academy will hold its year-end 2023 Spring Recital next weekend, June 3, at Kenai Central High School, when it will also celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Director Tara Phillips said the recital will feature a “wide range” of dance types; ballet, tap, hip-hop, jazz and contemporary. In addition to the students at Encore, there will be an appearance by the group’s adult nonprofit organization, Peninsula Artists in Motion.
“There’s a little bit of everything,” she said. “From little bitty 3-year-olds all the way up to adults.”
Though the event is a celebration of 20 years of Encore, Phillips said “it doesn’t really make this show different.” She said like any other year, the goal was to build a foundation with the kids and develop a fun dance to perform.
The end of the year recital, Phillips said, is an opportunity for the kids to “have so much fun and shine on stage and come alive.” She described the group as a tight-knit family, saying that the energy and the supportive attitudes really show, especially backstage during the big show.
Recital is also exciting, Phillips said, because there aren’t many opportunities to get on stage, especially in a setting where each dancer can get involved.
This year’s show doesn’t have a larger overarching theme, she said. That’s because there’s so many different styles of dance set to be shown off.
“I think there’s gonna be ups and downs,” she said. “There’s some really heavy pieces and there’s also some really energetic pieces.”
Though Encore Dance Academy has been around for 20 years, Phillips said that the real history of the program and the studio stretches back farther.
“It’s 20 years, and it blows my mind how fast time goes, but it’s not just 20 years,” she said. “I grew up in this studio.”
Phillips pointed to the late Jean McMaster, who started teaching dance “in the little red building out front here” in the 1960s. Phillips said she’s been dancing in the studio that became Encore since the 1970s and considered it a “second home.”
“She’s the one that opened the door,” she said. “She was my mentor my whole life.”
Shortly after Phillips returned from college, she said McMaster called saying that she had people asking for dance classes. McMaster, then “80-something years old,” told Phillips that she should start teaching dance.
“And so I did,” Phillips said. “We had just the one studio downstairs, and I started really small.”
On Tuesday, Encore Dance Academy was filled with young dancers — one class on their way out the door and another just getting started. Two studio spaces held around a dozen students each, one upstairs and the other downstairs. Phillips said that today there are six dance instructors.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about Jean McMaster and her influence,” Phillips said. “Over 50 years of dance that she started. I am the fortunate one that gets to carry on that legacy … Crossing that 20-year milestone and just continuing.”
Encore Dance Academy’s 20th Anniversary Celebration and 2023 Spring Recital will be held in the Kenai Central High School auditorium on June 3 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door.
For more information about Encore Dance Academy and the Spring Recital, visit “Encore Dance Academy” on Facebook.
Reach reporter Jake Dye at firstname.lastname@example.org.