I’ve spent rather a lot of evenings at the Ashcroft HUB over the last three months, at rehearsals for Blithe Spirit, and it was impossible not to notice the throngs of dancers coming to, and leaving from, Krush Dance Company rehearsals. Dancers of all ages—the younger ones accompanied by parents who would sit in the hallway and chat—flowed in and out, the tap dancers making their way down the hall to the cheery clatter of their tap shoes.
So I knew how popular the company is, when I interviewed Kelly Mykyte for an article in this week’s paper, but had no idea that 150 dancers were enrolled. As Kelly pointed out, that’s equivalent to one-tenth of Ashcroft’s population, all of them wanting to dance, and all of them prepared to spend time each week doing it.
For those interested in ballet there’s MK Ballet, which recently saw three students take part in a production of The Nutcracker in Kamloops. The Sage Sound Singers and the Desert Bells Handbell Choir are both going strong, providing beautiful music in our communities via the talent and commitment of more than 30 people. Each WRAPS theatre production has no difficulty finding people who want to take part, both on stage and behind the scenes. Blithe Spirit had a relatively small cast and crew—just under 30 people—but larger productions regularly see between 50 and 60 people willing to give up hundreds of hours of their time over several months.
Jo Petty and other talented artists regularly offer art lessons and sessions to eager painters of all ages. Marina Papais has not only created many of the stunning mosaics that beautify Ashcroft; she has inspired many others to learn the art of mosaic-making, and been instrumental in teaching them how. Talented musicians in our area teach piano, guitar, and singing to those who are keen to learn.
I’m sure I have missed some people and offerings—and I haven’t even touched on what’s being offered in Clinton and Spences Bridge—but you get my drift. The arts are alive and well in our region, and there is clearly an appetite for them, from those willing to teach and those wanting to learn.
The urge to create is a fundamental part of human nature. Much of the time, this creation is turned to practical ends: creating better, more livable communities, or more efficient vehicles, or more practical ways of heating and lighting our homes, or a better mousetrap. Often, however, this urge to create takes what would seem to be far more frivolous—and to some people unimportant or inconsequential—ends.
After all, the many, many hours that local choir and theatre company members and dancers spend rehearsing, and rehearsing, and then rehearsing some more results in: what? A concert that lasts less than two hours; a dance number that is done in three minutes; a play that runs for six performances and then is gone. It took weeks to assemble the props and build the set for Blithe Spirit, to say nothing of the rehearsal time; 24 hours after the final performance, it was as if the play had never happened, with all traces of it removed from the HUB.
The truth is that all those involved do what they do because they love it. No one expects to be the next Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers, or go on to an Academy Award-winning career. They don’t think that their work will gain them fame, or win them awards; if they create something tangible, like a painting or mosaic, they don’t expect it to hang in a gallery. They simply want to create something: bring happiness and even joy to themselves and to those who are fortunate enough to witness what they do. And this desire to create knows no age limits: locally, people aged from three to into their ninth decade take part.
To all those who give their time to keep the arts alive and well and thriving in our communities, congratulations, and thank you for sharing that passion with the rest of us. We’re all richer for it.