The Innisfail-based Joy’s School of Dance is gearing up to stage a legendary show inspired by one of the most beloved children’s classics of all time.
Narnia, based on C.S. Lewis’s book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe runs on the Red Deer College Arts Centre mainstage Nov. 30th at 7 p.m.
Joy’s School of Dance is located in Innisfail, Alberta and is owned and operated by Joy McIlwain.
“I’ve always been a big C.S. Lewis fan,” she explained. “You know, when you get the stories read to you in school they kind of stick with you,” she added of Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.
“Years ago, we entered a routine in a competition which was allowed to be 10 minutes long. So we thought, let’s do something with Narnia.”
So McIlwain got to thinking about ways to further flesh out Lewis’s compelling and magical story via dance.
“The pieces just started to fall into place,” she said. The tale’s basic premise follows the Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Lucy and Edmond, as they find their way into the enchanted land of Narnia – a land of talking animals and mythical creatures that the White Witch has ruled for many years.
The children enter Narnia through a wardrobe in a large country house in England where they are staying during a wartime evacuation. First discovered by Lucy, the other three eventually follow suit and subsequent adventures abound.
The siblings seem fit to fulfill a prophecy and are soon adventuring to save Narnia.
It’s an exhilarating story packed with adventure that has never failed to delight both children and adults since it was first published in the 1950s. Altogether, there are seven book in the Chronicles of Narnia series.
“The kids are so enthused and excited about The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. We’ve done it a couple of times as a full-length performance, so it’s an hour and a half run straight through now so it just grew.”
Of course, the story is told via dance, but McIlwain added that there is a bit of speaking in the soundtrack that is used at the beginning to help set the scene. “From then on, the kids, through their storytelling and their actions and the music, we’ve adapted it.” About 50 students are taking part in the production.
“It’s a story that whether you’ve read it or heard it as a child, you can still relate to that. It’s a classic – there are just things about it that you remember,” she said. “Doesn’t everybody want to know what Turkish Delight is,” she adds with a laugh, referring to it as a certain sweet that has a key ‘part’ in the story.
“I also think the story just has this intrigue to it. It sticks in your memory,” she said.
“I think that dance, and watching the arts as a part of storytelling is something anybody can enjoy. We have tried to include those elements of storytelling, there is ballet, there is jazz there is ‘acro’ – so we just want to include a little bit of everything that everybody can enjoy,” she said.
“I think it’s a story that anyone can relate to. And for our kids, it’s a new kind of winter tradition to develop.”
Meanwhile, McIlwain has been teaching dance for about 35 years, and has pretty much loved every minute of it. The mission of Joy’s School of Dance is to, “Create a safe and welcoming environment where we can provide high end training in a variety of dance styles to dancers of all abilities and ages.
“More than that however, we strive to develop our dancers as confident, caring, open-minded people inside and outside the studio. Our studio is a place for people to create lifelong friendships, discover themselves and have a second home.”
For tickets, visit rdctickets.universitytickets.com.