When Invermere’s Arabian Mountain Spice Dance Troupe took to the stage at the Nile Odyssey dance show in Calgary this past weekend (May 5), instructor Sandra Mercier says it was extremely nerve-wracking.
“It was very intimidating and nerve-wracking, but halfway through the crowd was cheering and clapping,” Mercier said. “Suddenly, it was like ‘Oh my god, this is awesome.’ The fear of dancing in front of so many people just disappears.”
The troupe, which consists of five dancers, have been together since 2007 when Mercier began teaching Arabian dance classes. She said that while the troupe initially numbered in the dozens, over time numbers have thinned down to what she has now.
The troupe started with small local shows and eventually worked their way up to performing all around the valley, from Edgewater and Windermere to Fairmont Hot Springs and Canal Flats. When they performed in Calgary, Mercier said it was by far the biggest show of their time together.
“The performing part is the really hard part,” Mercier said. “People just maybe want to learn the dancing, but don’t really want to dance in front of other people.”
The group practices about twice a week, and Mercier said the amount of performances they do really picks up during the summer months. One thing the group can really take away from their recent performance in Calgary is the amount of work that goes into doing a truly successful group show, she said.
“What we learned is that to be able to pull off a group performance, a lot of hours are needed, way more than what we’ve been doing in the past,” she said. “I’m really hoping we continue like this because it pushed the troupe to work so much harder.”
For the future, Mercier hopes that they can start to travel a bit more for shows, and also looks forward to doing more workshops like the one in Calgary they participated in. Their next performance takes place at the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Invermere on June 16.
“Being able to express yourself through music… you don’t need a a partner, you can just let yourself be moved,” Mercier said. “It’s a lot of feelings that you can let out, and if you have anything bothering you, it all gets let out.”