When Kia Henriksen started dancing at age three, little did she know she would grow up to become an award-winning choreographer and an artistic director.

“I’d rather be dancing than doing pretty much anything else,” she said.

Dance might be defined by many people as a form of art made by body movement sequences in order to express an idea, an emotion or a story. Others might define it as a fun and quick way to release energy or to connect with people.

But for Henriksen, dance means much more than that.

“I feel like I’m at home,” she said. 

From starting her professional career as a teacher assistant when she was only 15 years old, and teaching solo her very first class at 16, Henriksen has been quite successful in her dancing career.

Choreographing for as long as she can remember, Henriksen says the special feeling when she sees everything coming together, from costumes, stage lights to music, hasn’t changed after years.

“The whole process makes me feel really lucky to be able to do something that I love,” she said. “I go to work and it doesn’t really feel like work, I guess it makes me feel pretty grateful.”

As for inspirations for her choreographies, Henriksen said she feels inspired by really random things.

“Sometimes it’s that I find a song and I can just see what I want it to become,” she said. “Other times it’s focusing on a concept, something that’s important to me, and then building the choreography and the music and every single thing around the concept.”

Henriksen said her choreographies are usually built around a concept, a story behind them that she wants to share with the audience.

“Even if it’s not always obvious in the choreography, there’s usually a reason behind the decisions that I’ve made,” she said. “Whether it’s music or costuming or the movement itself, I like everything to be very intentional so that it feels authentic when it comes through on stage.”

Her dance moves lead her to Merritt in August 2022, where she joined The Love To Dance Academy as a dance instructor. Almost a year passed by and Henriksen is now their artistic director.

She hopes to continue to focus on bringing joy to the community through dance. 

“(It) would be wonderful to just like, share a love of dance to the community and bring people together,” she said.

Henriksen will be hosting a dance party event on August 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Rotary Park. She said the event will be a celebration towards the community of Merritt.

“I think that the resiliency in this community has been inspiring,” she said. “This community has been through a lot in the past few years, so I want to bring everyone together to celebrate.”