It has been an absolute honour to be a part of the creation of Back to the 80s with the Calgary Academy Theatre students and staff. It was a challenging task to bring the nostalgic era of the 80s to life on stage through dance and movement; however, through the collaboration and dedication of all involved, we were able to create routines that will make you want to jump out of your seats and dance along! This year we were fortunate to work closely with our Music Director, Mr. Jason Valleau, which was an amazing experience for our cast to organically build movement and vocals in tandem. The addition of live music during rehearsals helped build a sense of energy and excitement in the rehearsal space, ultimately translating to a more dynamic and engaging performance on stage.

One of the most rewarding parts of working with students on a creative project like choreography is seeing them take risks and grow as artists throughout the process. It takes courage to put oneself out there and experiment with new ideas, and I was impressed by the fearlessness and enthusiasm of the cast. Watching them push beyond their comfort zones and take on challenging choreography was inspiring, and I felt privileged to be a part of their journey.

I could not have taken on this task without my amazing student choreographers. These students volunteered countless hours to support and create for the show. Being able to watch and empower these students through their journey in building their leadership skills and creativity is something I greatly enjoyed. Seeing young dancers take the lead in creating their own routines and sharing their artistic vision with their peers was truly impressive and I was inspired by the innovation and talent that these students possessed. It was a joy to guide them as they developed their skills and even discovered new talents.

Witnessing the blood, sweat, and tears the cast and crew have put into bringing this production to life is truly inspiring, and seeing our labour of love come together on stage is nothing but rewarding. I am extremely proud to have been a part of this experience and appreciate all the learning and growth that has occurred throughout the process. So, brush up on your running man and sing along to all your favourites during this totally tubular program!

Hayley Jonason