One young Port Alberni dancer received a special award at the second annual Youth Variety Show last weekend, presented by the Funding Alberni Valley Arts Society (FAVAS).
Emma Fines, 14, is the very first recipient of the Pat Cummings Performing Arts Award, named after the late Port Alberni dance teacher Pat Cummings.
The award was open to all residents under the age of 17 who are involved in the arts in Alberni Valley. Fines applied earlier this year and was one of five artists selected to make a video submission. She learned just a week before the show that she was the winner, and she received the award on stage Saturday during the Youth Variety Show.
Fines is in her 10th year of dancing at Stage West School of Performing Arts and also performs with the Alberni District Secondary School dance team. During Saturday’s performance, she danced with both groups and also had her own solo. The solo, choreographed by Rebecca McLean, was a piece Fines took to competition this year.
“It’s very light and flowy,” Fines described. “It’s very graceful.”
Fines, who dances five days a week, says that her favourite dance form is ballet.
“I like how different it can be,” she said. “Sometimes it’s light and graceful, like my dance, and sometimes it’s really sharp and precise.”
FAVAS hopes that the Variety Show, and the performing arts award, can become an annual event in the Alberni Valley. The award is named in recognition of Port Alberni dance teacher Pat Cummings, who started the Pat Cummings School of Dance in 1952—the very first dance studio in Port Alberni. It is also where Fines started out dancing. Cummings passed away in 2011, and the award winner this year was chosen by Cummings’ daughter, Alison Cowan, who is a dance teacher herself.
“It feels really good,” said Fines. “Alison Cowan used to teach me, so the fact that she picked me feels really good.”
Fines wants to become a school teacher one day, but also wants to teach dance. Currently a Grade 9 student at Alberni District Secondary School (ADSS), Fines says that she always enjoys going up on stage to perform in front of crowds.
“I like the confidence that it has given me,” she said.