Rachel and Erica Vaz are looking forward to taking the stage to represent Vernon on Team Canada at the prestigious World Dance Championships in Riesa, Germany Nov. 18 to 25.
The twins, 17, have been dancing since they were three and have been at Accentz Dance Studio since they were seven.
“We’ve always just loved dancing,” said Rachel.
“We did our first competition when we were six — a duet — and have loved dancing and competing ever since,” said Erica.
They started with ballet and went on to tap, jazz, musical theatre, acro dance, hip hop, modern and contemporary dance.
They did the audition for Team Canada in the spring in Penticton where they had to take instruction in choreography that was new to them and then perform. It wasn’t long before they were informed that they had been selected for Team Canada.
“We were so excited. We had always dreamed of doing more with our dance,” said Rachel.
Since August, they have had to travel to Langley every weekend to rehearse with the 50 other team members from western Canada. They manage to fit it in with a full semester of academics at Vernon secondary school, taking Grade 12 chemistry, pre-calculus, physics and psychology. Erica and Rachel are enrolled in the High Performance Program which allows students to continue advanced participation in various areas of interest while completing high school.
“Our parents are really supportive. They take turns driving us and make sure we’re well-fed and do our homework,” said Erica.
Parents Dr. Christine Hatfield and Dr. Glenn Vaz are proud that the twins are going to take part in the World Dance Championships.
“We wanted them to be in dance for the experience, the exercise and to meet other kids, but it didn’t take long to see the joy they had in dancing,” said Hatfield.
“I started tap dancing when they did, about 11 years ago, and we have performed together. Being in a quartet with Rachel and Erica and our older daughter, Hannah, was my highlight as a dance mom. And Glenn is a good dance dad. We’re happy that we have given them that gift. It’s something they’ll have for life.”
Dance teacher and Accentz owner Becky Martselos, who choreographed the duet Rachel and Erica will be doing at the championships, is thrilled.
“I’m so very proud to see Rachel and Erica training with Team Canada. It is so exciting. They work so hard and have just risen to every challenge presented to them,” she said.
The girls are now concentrating on the rehearsals, putting in at least 20 hours a week, seven days a week dancing and keeping up their school work.
“We both want to be doctors and we both want to keep dancing so we have to figure out the various ways we can do that,” said Rachel.
Erica said they have another dream that they are both determined to make come true somehow.
“We want to dance for Disney, at the theme parks and in the cruise shows,” she said. “We’re really excited to represent Canada and meet the other dancers from other countries and see how they dance.”
She and Rachel will dance with a group of 17 dancers in the 16-plus group and in a group of seven. They were the only ones chosen to do a duet.
The International Dance Organization, which sponsors the World Dance Championships, has more than 250,000 members around the world.
While many countries provide financial support for dancers training and competing at high levels, members of Team Canada have to pay all their own expenses. The trip to Germany for Rachel and Erica and their mother will cost more than $10,000. They are asking for community support. See https://www.gofundme.com/team-canada-dance-rachel-erica to contribute and send good wishes for their success.