Take creative choreography, talented dancers, upbeat music and mix well. The result is Encore’s upcoming show, “That’s Life.” It takes the stage Saturday, June 10, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, June 11, at 3:30 p.m.
Performances are in NOVA’s Richard Ernst Theater, 8333 Little River Turnpike, Annandale. Tickets are $19-26 at the door or via www.Encore-tap.org. For more information, call 703-222-5511.
“We have an exciting show filled with wonderful, new dance numbers,” said Director/Choreographer Raynor van der Merwe. “It’s a dance review, and I chose music that talks about love, life and relationships and the journeys we take.”
There are 25 dancers — two dozen girls and one boy — and, said van der Merwe, “They’ve been a total inspiration to me, this year. They’ve embraced everything that was thrown at them. They’ve worked so hard and came with such open minds and open hearts that they’ve really grown.”
The show begins with the iconic song, “That’s Life,” and ends with the appropriately titled, “Big Finish.” And in between, said van der Merwe, “The music takes you through an emotional journey. The audience will really enjoy the diversity of rhythm and music. The finale features the dance company’s two, graduating seniors, Jenna Frisby and Claire Griese. I’m super proud of them, and they have beautiful singing voices.”
Frisby, an 18-year-old senior at Centreville High, has been dancing since age 3. “I love performing — just getting onstage and sharing my hard work,” she said. “I’m in my 10th season with Encore, and it’s taught me dedication because I’ve had to give up a lot to manage my schedule. I dance about 25 hours a week, so it’s hard to balance that with schoolwork.”
But she has no regrets because of her love of dance. In this show, she said, each number flows into the next. Her favorite is “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from the musical, “Hairspray,” because “It’s a really high-energy, jazz number with the full company. And each [ability] level of dancer wears a different color dress — either bright orange, pink or green.”
Frisby said the audience will love the show’s variety of dance styles, plus both the fast and slow songs. In the fall, she’ll attend Baylor University to major in communications and journalism. “I’ve been with Encore for so long, it’s really hard to leave,” she said. “But I’m excited to see what the next chapter of my life will be.”
Griese, a Chantilly High senior, is headed to Oklahoma City University to eventually major in dance. She’s been an Encore member for seven years. “It’s taught me a lot about responsibility and following through with my commitments in life,” she said. “I also have better time-management skills because of this, so it’s about more than just dancing. At this age, kids don’t always understand the importance of putting a lot of hard work into what you want to do.”
Her favorite number in this show is “Cry Me a River” by Michael Bublé’s. “It’s the best to dance to and I love this music,” said Griese. “I’ve always bugged Raynor about putting in this song; and, this year, I told her, ‘It’s time.’ So one day, she started choreographing it in class and we all loved it.”
It’s a contemporary number with a jazz feel, but more intense, said Griese. “I like changing it up and doing something like that,” she said. “We wear two-piece, turquoise dresses with beading, and some girls will dance with silky, blue fabric. It’s really cool, and we’re excited to see how the lighting looks with it onstage.”
Overall, she said, “We have a lot of new dances and choreography this year, so people familiar with our shows will see something different. And in the finale, Jenna and I will sing on top of big platforms while other girls are spinning us around.”
Also in the show is Chantilly sophomore Rithika Ashok, who’s also danced since age 3 and has been with Encore since she was 8. “My mom is a dance teacher so, from a young age, it was instilled in me,” she said. “But I enjoy dancing; after being at school, with all the stress, I can lose myself in dance.”
In the upcoming show, Ashok especially likes the song, “Too Darn Hot,” a fast-paced, stylistic number with a jazz dance. “We wear black-and-red velvet dresses for it,” she said. “I really like fast songs, and this is an upbeat one that gets the audience going.”
“Cut, Print” is another of her favorites. “It’s a lyrical jazz dance, and we wear flowy white dresses and dance with pink fabric as we’re entering the stage,” said Ashok. She, too, said this new production should be a hit with the audience. “It’s a really good representation of Broadway-style numbers and is the closest you can get to Broadway here,” she said. “The whole show is upbeat and good for all ages, and everyone will enjoy it.”