Singers, dancers, musicians, speakers and general connoisseurs of the arts will descend on Trail this week for the annual Kootenay Festival of the Arts.
In its 78th year, the festival kicked off last week with dancers performing at the Charles Bailey Theatre and bands jamming at the Trail Anglican Church.
The festival gives performing arts students a chance to perform and learn from professional instructors.
“We’ll take any age, we go right up to adults,” said festival committee member Barb Ferraro Friday.
“Last night we had a belly dancing group of ladies that was really good.”
The dance portion of the event features tap, hip-hop, interpretive, modern, jazz, and ballet in solo, duo, trio and group categories based on age and experience.
Students’ performances are adjudicated then given important feedback from trained professionals.
“The kids are really brave, they have to stand there by themselves and take corrections and compliments too, but it’s about confidence building,” said Ferraro.
This year’s dance adjudicator, Irene Booth of Tempo Dance Academy in Nanaimo, was impressed with the over 200 dancers.
“I find them very energetic and committed to their choreography, they’re dancing beautifully,” said Booth.
Up to 1,000 students from Spokane, the Okanagan and the Kootenays participate in the 10-day event that is fully organized and run by volunteers.
Save for a wartime break and a three-year interlude in the 1960s, the festival has alternated between Trail and Nelson every year since its inception in 1930 at the Nelson Opera House.
By enrolling in the annual event, along with other area festivals, many students gain the confidence and discipline to pursue the arts as a vocation.
“There is quite a range of different avenues they can go, so whatever field they choose the work ethic is there and they become very responsible adults as well,” said Booth.
In particular, the certified adjudicator has mountains of praise for the training and level of instruction available in the area.
“It is really nice to see, especially in the smaller communities because sometimes the smaller communities think they are not at the standard everyone else is but here they definitely are.”
Following the dance portion, piano recitals play at the First Presbyterian Church from Monday to Wednesday; Speech Arts go at the United Church on Thursday and vocal events at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church from Thursday to Saturday.
Students will receive written and oral adjudication, the best of whom will be awarded cash prizes and invited to perform at the final gala concert on Sunday.
Students also may be invited to attend the Provincial Festival of the Arts held in Kamloops later this year.