The Krush Dance Company is one of the area’s most unsung major success stories. When it started in Jan. 2016 there were 60 dancers enrolled in classes at the Ashcroft HUB, led by company founder Kelly Mykyte. Today there are more than 150 dancers enrolled, and all of them are gearing up for the Winter Recital on Dec. 15.
“That’s one-tenth of the population of Ashcroft,” laughs Mykyte. To put that in perspective, to achieve the same numbers a single dance studio in Kamloops would have to have more than 9,000 members.
Mykyte started dancing when she was three and was a competitive dancer who went to festivals and competed in her age category until she blew out a knee in her teens. At age 15 she turned to teaching dance instead, then took a long break when she went to college to, as she says, learn something where she could earn money.
But the dancing bug had bit, and when she saw a dance studio for sale in Sylvan Lake, Alberta she bought it and taught there for three years. In 2015 her husband Shane, who is in the RCMP, was transferred to Ashcroft, and she decided to start a dance company here.
“It’s super fun, and I love it. And it’s an artistic outlet for a lot of people. I love teaching tap, jazz, hip hop, and lyrical dancing.”
This past session Mykyte added an acro dance class—which combines gymnastics with dance—that is taught by Cassie Rigler from the Academy of Dance in Kamloops. Rigler says she can’t fill one tap class at her studio, but Mykyte has eight tap classes—four adult and four youth—to keep up with the local demand.
“Everyone says that the tap is super fun. A lot of moms like to get out in the evenings, and it’s a stealth way of getting exercise. Feet are musical instruments.”
Mykyte says she doesn’t offer ballet, as that need is filled locally by Miho Kanamaru at MK Ballet in Ashcroft, but that this session she began a Twinkle Stars dance program which offers 15 minutes each of ballet, jazz, and tap dancing for students aged three to six.
Mykyte chooses the music for each class—a process that takes close to three weeks—offering up one or two choices to each group. “I play it for them, watch their emotions, and see if they like it.” She also does most of the choreography, which takes close to six weeks, and teaches most of the classes.
“Julia and Lena Franes teach one class, River and Willow Winwood teach another, and Cassie does the acro. They do the choreography for their classes.”
She says that this year she has four boys enrolled, down from six last year. “We have a great group of boys, but I think there’s still a bit of stigma attached [to boys dancing].”
Mykyte says that Krush likes to meet dancers where they’re at. “Whether you have loads of experience or none, we’ll work with that. Every year people get more practice, and get better. The tap groups practice all the time, so I’m able to do more with them. But it comes down to having fun and being the best you can be.”
Groups meet formally one a week for rehearsals, although some groups meet privately as well. The cost for a season of 45-minute weekly sessions is $125 plus GST (one-hour sessions are $165 plus GST; there is also a $45 plus GST charge for costumes). Mykyte handles all the costume requirements. “That’s super fun, and I love shopping,” she admits. “I go online and buy the costumes, which have to be appropriate and be under $45.
“I can’t believe the generosity of the community,” she adds. “People offer to help, and ask what we need. The community is really amazing. And the level of commitment is beautiful. People do it because they love it. It’s an outlet for a lot of people, and they need it.”
She notes that the tap ladies and moms run the backstage, so that the winter and spring recitals go smoothly. “And Deanna Porter has been volunteering with Krush to help with the decorating, registration, and more. It’s been so helpful to have her expertise!”
Mykyte notes that her husband’s posting in Ashcroft ends in 2019. “I’ve heard from some students that they’re going to start a petition to keep us here! We’ll try to extend the posting, but if we got a transfer to, say, Kamloops, then I could keep it going. It would be super sad to have to leave.
“I’m living my dream. I have the best job in the world. I love every part of it.”
The Krush Dance Company’s Winter Recital is on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Ashcroft HUB (admission $3). Registration for the spring session is on Saturday, Jan. 6, with lessons starting on Jan. 8. For more information visit the Krush Dance Company Facebook page.