Avari Dodd’s feet are always tapping a beat. The 10-year-old Powell River resident dances at every opportunity, including solo or in duos, trios or groups.
“I tap all day; sometimes it’s difficult in school to not move at all,” said Avari. “Even in the grocery stores, I’m tapping down the aisles.”
Avari started taking dance classes when she was three years old. “First, I was doing creative movement and then tap dance when I turned four,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun; it’s like being the beat and percussion for the music.”
Of the many dance styles to choose from, tap and musical are her favourites, said Avari.
“If someone’s interested in dance, I would recommend starting with jazz or Acro dance, because you get to combine dancing with gymnastics,” she said. “For me, it’s tap dance; I just want to tap all the time.”
For almost seven years, Avari has been attending classes at Sheridan Dance Academy and learning under its artistic director Mariah Sheridan Runions.
Founded in 2008, the academy offers a variety of recreational and competitive classes for students, said Sheridan Runions, who has been teaching dance since 2002. As a child, Sheridan Runions said she found tap dancing quite difficult.
“Now, it’s easily my favourite style of dance,” she said.
When Sheridan Runions started teaching tap at her academy six years ago, two students took the course, including Avari.
“Avari is one determined kid,” said Sheridan Runions. “You can tell she goes home and practises every day; she has the drive for it.”
Currently, nearly 30 students are enrolled in the tap course. According to Sheridan Runions, Avari has also expressed interest in becoming a dance teacher.
“As her dance teacher, that’s music to my ears; I’m so proud of her,” said Sheridan Runions. “Her mom, Jennifer, is very supportive as well. She’s so involved and helpful with the events and other parents, especially for the competitions.”
According to Avari, competitions are great opportunities to put her practising to work.
“It’s also nice to win trophies,” she said.
In February, Avari’s team took home the Studio Spirit Award at a tap dancing competition in North Vancouver.
Avari said she auditioned for Team Canada Dance in April and was happy to find out she had been accepted to the team. Her mother, who grew up in Langley and also studied tap dance and ballet, said she is proud of Avari’s work ethic and accomplishments.
“She works so hard, practising evenings and weekends,” said Jennifer, “but you can really see how much she loves it when she’s performing on stage.”
Seeing her daughter pursue her passion has been very special, she added.
“I want to support her in doing what she loves,” said Jennifer. “I drive her to dance classes five times a week; she does tap dancing twice, as well as jazz, ballet, Acro and contemporary. She’s also going to masterclasses, conventions and competitions out of town, so we get to travel a lot.”