Dancers from the Soldotna-based studio Forever Dance Alaska pose in a scene from their upcoming show “Be Light, Be Love” on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 in Kenai Central High School’s Renee C. Henderson Auditorium. “Be Light, Be Love” will show Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m at Kenai Central High. Tickets are $10 or $15, depending on seat location.

Dancers from the Soldotna-based studio Forever Dance Alaska pose in a scene from their upcoming show “Be Light, Be Love” on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 in Kenai Central High School’s Renee C. Henderson Auditorium. “Be Light, Be Love” will show Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m at Kenai Central High. Tickets are $10 or $15, depending on seat location.

Dancers take up social message with ‘Be Light, Be Love’

The dancers onstage at Forever Dance Alaska’s upcoming show hope to start a dialogue without saying much at all.

The Soldotna-based dance studio’s Aurora Dance Company plans to open its “Be Light, Be Love” show Friday at 7 p.m. at Kenai Central High School’s Renee C. Henderson Auditorium. The annual show focuses on a variety of issues teens and preteens face in their everyday lives, ranging from cyberbullying to getting ready to become adults and leave home.

The theme was born about a year ago, said studio owner Darcy Swanson. Some of the pieces are dark — the opening number addresses tragedies worldwide, including footage of glaciers calving and violence in Aleppo, Syria. In contrast, the dancers will have light elements as well, bringing hope back into heavy topics, she said.

“It’s (asking) the question of, ‘Where has the love gone?’” she said. “Only through light can we come together and solve some of the world’s problems.”

Though she had the idea for the show before the divisive U.S. presidential election in November 2016, Swanson said the bitter debates and divisions proved the theme. The show stays out of making political statements, though one of the images during the opening number touches on the ongoing issue of violence between black communities and police officers, she said.

“All of my staff, politically, we’re all on complete different sides of the aisle, but we all can connect with hate … and we all can agree that love is the answer,” she said. “… It’s just been a really good experience for (the kids) to be able to make a statement in their own way through dance.”

In writing and choreographing the pieces, she and the teachers tried to consider what issues the students were facing. A major one was the seeming omnipresence of social media, especially through phones, and its superficiality. The hip-hop teacher took the theme and ran with it, setting a dance to a spoken-word piece about young people missing out on real-life experiences because they are lost in social media, Swanson said.

Another topic was bullying, which the teachers soon learned was more than a hypothetical issue for some students, she said. During the practices, some of the students came forward and talked about the bullying they had experienced at school, and the whole class was able to talk about the issue openly, she said.

“It was pretty amazing,” she said. “We’ve been able to start conversations (among) our dancers with each other. For them to be able to have that outlet, that form of expression, that’s been really cathartic for them.”

The last year has been full of change for the Forever Dance Alaska studio. At the end of 2015, longtime studio owner Vergine Hedberg retired, and Swanson and her husband bought the studio to keep everything running — classes, teachers and all. The teachers leaped in and planned three shows last year, which can be challenging, but was rewarding, Swanson said.

“Change is always a challenge for people some times, and we faced those challenges as best we could,” she said. “If anything, it’s brought us all together closer, and our dancers that are with us are definitely closer. They can see what we have with our studio, and they can see what they have with the quality of their teachers.”

Though its main focus is its pre-professional dancing groups, which prepare young dancers to further pursue the sport, the studio’s also been branching out to include other groups. Last year, the studio hosted a fundraiser for Hope Community Resources, a nonprofit serving the mentally disabled and elderly, with a 12-hour open studio with dance classes every hour on the hour. That went so well they’re planning to host it again this year, she said.

Swanson said other students also participate more casually, and she wants to include them just as much. The studio is also home to a group of community classes, including older dancers, and she said she wants to see that grow further.

“It’s just really trying to open the door to the benefits of dance for people,” she said. “Everything from our 3-year-olds learning the basics of dance and rhythm … but also it can be beneficial for older folks too.”

Forever Dance Alaska’s “Be Light, Be Love” show opens Friday at 7 p.m. and will show again Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets are between $10 and $15, depending on seat location, and are available at the door.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

Dancers from the Soldotna-based studio Forever Dance Alaska rehearse a ballet sequence from their upcoming show “Be Light, Be Love” on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 in Kenai Central High School’s Renee C. Henderson Auditorium. “Be Light, Be Love” will show Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m at Kenai Central High. Tickets are $10 or $15, depending on seat location.

Dancers from the Soldotna-based studio Forever Dance Alaska rehearse a ballet sequence from their upcoming show “Be Light, Be Love” on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 in Kenai Central High School’s Renee C. Henderson Auditorium. “Be Light, Be Love” will show Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m at Kenai Central High. Tickets are $10 or $15, depending on seat location.

More in News

Nate Rochon cleans fish after dipnetting in the Kasilof River, on June 25, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
King closures continue; Kasilof dipnet opens Saturday

The early-run Kenai River king sport fishery remains closed, and fishing for kings of any size is prohibited

An "Al Gross for Congress" sign sits near the driveway to Gross’ home in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, after he announced plans to withdraw from the U.S. House race. Gross has given little explanation in two statements for why he is ending his campaign, and a woman who answered the door at the Gross home asked a reporter to leave the property. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Alaska judge rules Sweeney won’t advance to special election

JUNEAU — A state court judge ruled Friday that Alaska elections officials… Continue reading

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion 
Soldotna City Manager Stephanie Queen listens to a presentation from Alaska Communications during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska.
ACS pilots fiber program in certain peninsula neighborhoods

The fiber to the home service will make available the fastest internet home speeds on the peninsula

Nurse Tracy Silta draws a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the walk-in clinic at the intersection of the Kenai Spur and Sterling Highways in Soldotna, Alaska on Wednesday, June 9, 2021. COVID-19 vaccines for kids younger than 5 years old are now approved by both the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
COVID shots for kids under 5 available at public health

Roughly 18 million kids nationwide will now be eligible to get their COVID vaccines.

Megan Mitchell, left, and Nick McCoy protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning of Roe v. Wade at the intersection of the Kenai Spur and Sterling highways on Friday, June 24, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Heartbroken’, ‘Betrayed’: Alaskans react to Roe decision

Supreme Court decision ends nearly 50 years of legally protected access to abortion

Demonstrators gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years, a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court’s landmark abortion cases. (AP Photo / Jose Luis Magana)
Alaskans react to Supreme Court overturn of Roe v. Wade

The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion.

Tara Sweeney, a Republican seeking the sole U.S. House seat in Alaska, speaks during a forum for candidates, May 12, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/ Mark Thiessen)
Lawsuit says Sweeney should advance in Alaska US House race

The lawsuit says the fifth-place finisher in the special primary, Republican Tara Sweeney, should be put on the August special election ballot

Gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker stands in the Peninsula Clarion office on Friday, May 6, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska AFL-CIO endorses Walker, Murkowski, Peltola

The AFL-CIO is Alaska’s largest labor organization and has historically been one of its most powerful political groups

A portion of a draft letter from Jeffrey Clark is displayed as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Federal agents search Trump-era official’s home, subpoena GOP leaders

Authorities on Wednesday searched the Virginia home of Jeffrey Clark

Most Read