Love to Dance (LTD) Academy puts out an annual Christmas concert performed by their students. It is a part of Merritt Country Christmas Week, and much like the rest of the festivities, it was on a two year break due to COVID-19 restrictions. This year marks its return, and thanks to the countless hours of help from volunteers, the show looks to be a great hit. 

‘Elements’ is this year’s Christmas concert by LTD. The show features performances from 63 dancers. With a project that huge, the academy really leans on the help of volunteers to make it possible. 

“It’s really wonderful that we have so many volunteers,” said Program Director Lizette Nel. “Without them the concert cannot happen because there are so many tasks involved.” 

Three teachers are tasked to get the kids ready for the concert; Kia Henriksen who teaches tap, hip-hop, acrobatics, and jazz, Vanessa Van Rensburg who teaches Spanish dancing, and Lizette Nel, who teaches ballet. Aside from choreography, there is also the matter of music,  costume design, lighting, staging, and general planning, all of which are done by the volunteers.

“We had about 30 volunteers helping during the concert itself because we are dealing with the little ones, who need to put on costumes, be taken to the green room, then the stage and all the way back,” Nel noted.

The volunteers are made up of parents of the young dancers and members of the senior dance group and members of the Merritt Dance Society such as Secretary Janet Roth.

“The concerts are beautiful,” said Roth. “They are really worthwhile to see and I really enjoy volunteering for them.” 

Roth has been hard at work organizing thank you packages for volunteers, dressing room bags for the dancers, and promoting the event to different groups of people in the community. 

“I will also man the membership table, the day of the concert,” she added. “I will handle any new membership sign ups, donations, and other general information inquiries there.” 

Roth is a retiree who loves spending her free time working with different societies, including Love to Dance. 

“I find it very satisfying to work with Love to Dance,” she said. “I don’t have children myself, so I enjoy watching the kids transform into graceful individuals, full of self esteem, all by attending the dance classes.” 

“I think the type of dancing that Love to Dance has been teaching is extremely good,” said local Lana Schindler. 

“Performing for the community just shows how proud the teachers are of their students. It also shows our community that we have something very elegant as well as community minded.” 

Schindler is grandmother to two LTD dancers, Megan Voigt and Charlotte Schindler. 

“The are very excited to perform at this concert,” she said. “I give love to dance a lot of credit for developing my granddaughters into such a young, poised, and graceful ladies.” 

‘Elements’ will be at the Merritt Civic Centre on Wednesday, November 23. The free concert will have two showtimes, with the matinee happening at 1 p.m., and the evening show at 7 p.m. 

“We are very grateful to be invited once again by the organizers of the Merritt Country Christmas Week to be part of their festivities,” said Nel. 

The show features hip-hop, jazz, acrobatics, tap, ballet, contemporary, and Spanish dancing. It is split into two 40 minute sessions, divided by an intermission. 

Kia Henriksen teaching acrobatics for ‘Elements’ concert. Izaiah Reyes/Herald

“We gave all our dance students from Love to Dance the opportunity to perform,” Nel explained. “Some of the dancers have been dancing for 10 years, with many awards under their belts, but there were also little beginners who started only in September.”

“I think this concert is a marvelous opportunity for our dancers to showcase their talents and progression with Love to Dance. Parents can feel proud that their little ones got an opportunity to perform on a stage, in front of a big audience. It’s a very warm and uplifting feeling.”