by John Sargent
Sixteen dancers with the Delta Illusion Dance Company (DIDCO) competed in the Bravo! National Dance & Talent Competition in Longmont, Colorado during March 2-3, 2019 of Spring Break. The Dance Company performed 30 out of the total 275 numbers. Each solo, duo, trio, small group, or large group performance earned an Elite High Gold (second highest) or Platinum (highest) rating from the judges. Many Bethel dancers took home a number of category and special judge awards, as well.
DIDCO’s small group platinum performance of Into the Mist was given a “Best Choreography’ award, thanks in large part to Yvonne Cook, who has been DIDCO’s primary dance instructor and choreographer for the last eight years. Her co-instructor and life partner, Eric Polo, contributed some of the hip-hop art moves contained in the routine.
Into the Mist is a pop song by Scandinavian artist Eivor Pálsdóttir that recently became internationally known when it was used in the popular TV show, Kingdom. The lyrics and music of the song resemble something you might see performed as part of a Halloween play. It’s somewhat dark, eerie, and mysterious.
It was DIDCO Leadership Team member Jazzmin LaValle who was given the assignment to find a song for the group. “She (Yvonne) wanted me to find a song that was creepy contemporary,” said Jazzmin.
“It took me two hours to find three songs for Yvonne’s consideration,” said Jazzmin. ‘As soon as Yvonne heard Into the Mist the first time, she said, ‘I like this one.’” The selection was made.
The dance team who flew to Colorado to perform MIST at the competition included the following 8-12 year-olds from Bethel: Ellie LaValle, Collin Sargent, Kaylie St. Vincent, Dee Daniel, and Danielle Hackney. Jordon Klejka, an original member of the group, was unable to attend the Bravo dance competition in Denver due to a previous commitment.
The MIST routine had to be reblocked or revised days before the team left Bethel to account for Jordan’s absence. It took almost two hours for the reblocking. Fortunately, Yvonne was already scheduled to fly to Bethel a week before the competition in order to “clean” the numbers slated for competition.
How do you choreograph an award-winning dance routine?
“The music dictates the movements,” said Yvonne. “The musicians are the authors and we dancers are the illustrators.”
“The kids have certain movements they can do, and so they contribute to the dance design,” said Yvonne. “In the end, it’s a combination of the music, student abilities, and the mood of the day.
“A lot of choreographers will try to pre-set a piece,” she said, “They don’t allow individuality into the art form.
“That is not how I work,” continued Yvonne. “I develop the dance spontaneously—I let it evolve naturally.”
What was it about MIST that inspired the judge to recognize it for choreography?
“It’s weird and weird is in right now,” said Yvonne. “MIST conformed to the popular trend called, contempop, which is a combination of contemporary dance and hip-hop.”
“It told a story,” Yvonne said. “The number was unique in its formation changes, constant movement, pairing and unpairing.”
DIDCO Leadership Team member Diana St. Vincent said it was the masks that inspired the judge to give DIDCO the award. All the girls wore black masks covering their eyes. Collin Sargent, the only boy in the group, used dark eye shadow.
The masks were part of the costumes picked out by Anne Komulainen, the third member of the DIDCO Leadership trio. The girls wore black unitards and Collin wore tight-fitting jazz pants and a black tanktop. “It took us a long, long time to find the costumes for MIST,” said Anne. “It was a process of looking on websites, ordering, and then returning items because they were not the right size.”
Yvonne teared up when asked about how the choreography award for MIST supplemented her other dance accomplishments. “I’ve been dancing since I was three years old. I have never NOT been in a dance studio. I earned top honors for my dances. I danced in competitions. I have done TV commercials. I danced with MC Hammer. In all the things I have done in dance, Bethel is the thing I am most proud of,” she said crying.
“These kids are amazing!” smiled Yvonne. “They are so hungry to learn and grow in the art of dance and I’m honored to be part of their growth and achievements.”
This is Yvonne’s ninth year flying to Bethel to provide quality instruction, choreography, advice, and guidance.
MIST dancers will be performing again at the Cama-i Dance Festival March 29-31, 2019.