Thursday, 30 May 2019 08:18

One Last Dance: Four local dancers share unique sisterhood on stage

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Seniors Emily Faw, Adison Tetreault, BMDC owner Holly Howe, and seniors Chloe McLaughlin and Peyton Harrelson. Seniors Emily Faw, Adison Tetreault, BMDC owner Holly Howe, and seniors Chloe McLaughlin and Peyton Harrelson. Photo courtesy of Ron McLaughlin.

ROCKINGHAM — After spending the last decade of their lives performing on stage together, four local high school students saw their dancing careers come to an end earlier this month.

Current Richmond Senior High School seniors Emily Faw, Peyton Harrelson, Chloe McLaughlin and Adison Tetreault have spent countless hours practicing, perfecting and performing their craft with Bold Moves Dance Company. But the last five years have been spent together creating an inseparable bond that extends far beyond the stage lights.

BMDC, a Rockingham-based dance company owned by Holly Littlefield Howe, opened in August 2014, and just wrapped up its fifth year with its spring recital at the Cole Auditorium. Faw, Harrelson and Tetreault have been with BMDC since its inception, with McLaughlin joining a year later.

All four soon-to-be college freshmen have dedicated the better part of their lives to wowing audiences with their ability to perform a variety of styles on stage. For BMDC, the quartet has primarily danced ballet, contemporary, jazz, musical theater and pointe routines.

“These four girls have a passion for dance like no other,” Howe said of her four departing dancers. “They work hard, put in the hours, but also have fun in the process. They are also such great role models for our younger dancers.”

Although their time as dancers has come to an end, bright futures lie ahead for the four ladies. Faw will be attending UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall to study biology, as Harrelson (biology) and Tetreault (public health) will head Greenville and attend East Carolina University.

McLaughlin plans to study biology at Richmond Community College before transferring to UNC in two years.

“We have come a long way from where we started,” Faw explained, who first laced up her dance shoes at the age of five. “When we all started off, we weren’t the best. But Holly taught us really well and we all improved a lot.

“As time went on, the four of us got a lot closer,” she added. “We all get along so well and we made each other really happy through dancing. That’s the biggest takeaway for me … if it wasn’t for dance, we wouldn’t be the friends we are today.”

The road to their final performance started nearly 15 years ago when Faw, Harrelson and McLaughlin began dancing for Rene’ Ward at Step 2 It Dance Studio. Howe grew up dancing with the company as well, and later took over and changed it to BMDC. Ward currently serves as BMDC’s ballet instructor.

From the years spent practicing in front of mirrors and creating one routine after another, the four girls created a bond that they’ll each carry with them into whatever the future holds.

“Everyone I dance with, especially the other senior girls, is very caring and kindhearted,” Harrelson, who also started dance at age five, shared. “All of us look out for each other, and help each other out when we dance. We’ve developed a great relationship through dance that is really special.”

Harrelson added that the group of seniors is “dynamic,” having endured the growing pains of the sport together, while also backing each other up inside and outside of the studio.

Something new this year for the older girls was taking on a more active coaching role with BMDC. With over 100 dancers ranging from kindergarten age through high school, Faw, Harrelson, McLaughlin and Tetreault helped prepare the younger dancers for the spring recital.

According to Tetreault, who started dancing at the age of three at Dance Sensations, that opportunity afforded them the chance to appreciate what Howe has done for them.

“We all taught dance with Holly this year and that taught us a lot of responsibility,” Tetreault said. “It showed us how to do certain things with dance, and made us more comfortable with kids and parents.

“There were times when we had to deal with people and learned how to handle the business side of things, too,” she added. “Dance was a good way to have fun, take a break from the pressures of school and make memories that will last a lifetime.”

The four seniors during their “senior dance” during BMDC’s spring recital. Courtesy of Ron McLaughlin.

McLaughlin began her career at the age of three, sharing the dance floor with Howe, who was then a teenage student at Step 2 It Dance Studio. The last 15 years have seen several roles change, but the one constant for McLaughlin has been Howe’s guidance and leadership in her development as a dancer.

“Holly relates to us all really well and has always been really easy to talk to,” McLaughlin reflected. “It’s been cool to have grown up with her, and I remember having a different image of (Howe) when I was little.

“We’ve both grown up and watched each other grow,” she continued. “Holly is so innovative, and I really like her choreography. She’s serious about dance, but knows how to make it fun for everyone.”

At the spring recital held on May 19, a total of 130 dancers performed for a packed Cole Auditorium. Ahead of their final show, Faw, Harrelson, McLaughlin and Tetreault were recognized as seniors and given flowers.

Howe wrote a letter to each dancer in the recital’s program, and the foursome performed a “senior dance” that combined several pieces of choreography from over their years with BMDC.

Fifth grader Macy Frye was crowned the program’s “Dancer of the Year,” while Payton Pope, Amari Flowers and Shelby Roberts were awarded “Shooting Star” certificates. Tetreault was recognized has the “Dancer of the Half-Decade.”

“It was one of the most emotional things I think we’ve all ever experienced,” Tetreault, who will minor in dance education, said of the swan song performance. “It was bittersweet because it was the last time we were all on stage together. It was also heartwarming and humbling to see the younger girls look up to us this year.”

Having gotten to know the four dacners pretty well over the last handful of years, Howe encouraged all of them to apply what they’ve learned at BMDC to their college futures and beyond.

“Being a part of a team in general is such a great learning experience for dancers,” Howe explained. “These girls have had to learn how to work together to make a beautiful piece of art … if someone is slacking it affects the whole group.

“So they have had to learn how their level of effort and commitment affects the whole group in various ways,” she closed. “In life, it’s so important to learn how to work as a team. Whether it’s work, play, friendships or family, effort and commitment are vital to the big picture.”

Last modified on Thursday, 30 May 2019 12:30

Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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