Travelling to Portugal is going to be the opportunity of a lifetime for Mara Morris, left, and Brittany Millard. They met with the Courier at Waterwheel Park in Chemainus for a photo shoot and interview before departing on their big trip. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Dance World Cup awaits Chemainus, Maple Bay girls

After much preparation, the big trip to Portugal is almost here

The big moment they’ve long been waiting for is almost here.

Brittany Millard, 13, of Chemainus and Mara Morris, 14, of Maple Bay are on the verge of the greatest experience of their young lives. They’re heading to Braga, Portugal very soon for the prestigious Dance World Cup finals.

“I’m just really excited to perform with real performers and see what the big stage is like and watch Mara’s group,” enthused Millard.

“I have to pack,” chuckled Morris of her most pressing concern. “It’s really exciting. It’s like all I can think about.”

The dancers were selected by World Performers Canada Inc. to represent Canada in the Dance World Cup competition. This is the big-time, with WPC’s national dance team representing Canada alongside 60 other nations and sharing the stage with some 6,000 competitors world-wide.

“I’m super excited and excited to see what Portugal’s going to look like,” Millard raved.

Both girls started dancing at an early age.

Millard has lived in Chemainus since birth and already has a decade of dancing experience at Adage studio in Duncan.

“My first solo when I was seven I did a ballet solo,” Millard recalled. “I forgot the dance on stage and I stared at the audience.”

That was at an event in Nanaimo, but she regained her place after a short break and has never looked back. Jazz became her dance style of choice after a while.

“I remember my other friends had jazz dance in our year-end show,” Millard noted. “I said, ‘I want to do that.’ The year after I started doing jazz.”

Morris was actually born in Kenya and started dancing in South Africa at the age of three. She’s been dancing at Adage for four years.

“When we first moved to Canada, I actually didn’t want to dance anymore,” Morris pointed out. “I eventually started trying things out and a few classes.

“I always spent all my time on it, but I never really got serious till I was 11.”

The chance for selection to the World Performer Canadian team happened during auditions in Vancouver last July.

“I was nervous,” Millard confessed. “There was only a couple of people in the room. I wasn’t sure how many were going to be in Mara’s audition.”

“At that point, I was dealing with an injury,” Morris explained. “I had to choose between that audition and a workshop.

“I was going for fun and to get the experience and the bigger reward for the risk is I got in.”

The girls have been practicing for the last year at their home studio as well as meeting WPC in Vancouver during every long weekend. They’ll be competing in ballet, jazz, contemporary, and tap. Millard has a modern solo and Morris will be doing a contemporary solo as well.

They’re leaving June 20 and will spend a week in Toronto with the national team before heading to Portugal. It’s an amazing honour for the girls to represent Canada and the Valley.

Both girls are very humble, but extremely focused on what they do. They’re home-schooled and have an intense schedule of dancing and schoolwork at oddball times that fills out their entire week.

“I like competitions, I like performing on stage – the competitions and the year-end shows we do,” said Millard.

“I like more performances – just trying to make people enjoy watching your dance,” noted Morris.

They both are fans of dancing programs on TV where you can pick up all sorts of ideas and watch some incredible performances.

“I like watching Dancing With The Stars, So You Think You Can Dance and World Of Dance,” said Millard.

“It’s always super inspiring to watch any of the dance shows,” conceded Morris. “It’s amazing what they can do.”

The girls will be putting their own amazing talents to work in Portugal, starting with Millard’s contemporary dance group on June 29. Morris’ first event is a jazz group dance July 2.

The WPC website at www.worldperformerscanada.com and Dance World Cup at www.dwcworld.com provide more information on the competition.

You can check out the times when the events will be live-streamed and the girls would love to know the Valley is cheering them on while they dance and try to bring back a gold medal for Canada.

Millard and Morris fund raised as a team to pay for the cost of travelling and competing in Portugal. Each dancer had to raise close to $4,000 of their own funds in order to participate in this initiative.

 

Mara Morris, right, marvels at the flexibility of her friend and Canadian dance teammate Brittany Millard of Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)

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