Merritt Dance Studio

The Love To Dance Academy in the Nicola Valley

In these times, we “bring the joy of dance into homes”.

 

The Merritt dance studio, Love to Dance Academy, contributes to the art and culture in our Nicola Valley.

Love to Dance Academy

Love to Dance Academy Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

I invited dance teacher, Lizette Nel, to talk about her work when we connected here in Merritt BC Canada

How and when did your Merritt Dance Studio start?

I took over the local dance studio in December 2012 as the previous ballet teacher here in Merritt, Linda Sanford, was looking forward to retirement. The name, Linda’s Dance Studio, was changed to Love To Dance Academy in January 2013.

I started teaching in 2012. We had only 12 little ballet students in a lovely compact dance studio on the top floor of the beautiful old Courthouse in Merritt, BC.

Since then a strong dance program has been developed and the Love To Dance Academy now offers classes in four different dance genres to dancers of all ages.

There are recreational classes for those who want to dance for fun and exercise as well as classes for the more serious dance student who would like to do dance exams and participate in in dance festivals and competitions. 

Therefore, at the end of 2018, there was an opportunity to move to bigger premises and with the help of volunteers a second hand shop was converted into a spacious and fully equipped dance studio downtown.

 

Dance Studio Merritt BC

Lizette Nel, Head Dance Instructor, Love to Dance Academy Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Who is a part of Love to Dance?

The Love To Dance Academy is a project of the Merritt Dance Society, which is a non-profit organisation. The Merritt Dance Society consists of a wonderful, supportive Board of Directors.

I am the Head Dance Instructor and I developed and manage the dance program for the Merritt Dance Society.

Vanessa van Rensburg, regularly teaches Spanish Flamenco and jazz dance classes.

However, from time to time guest teachers are invited to do short courses and workshops or teach during dance camps.

 And of course, there are the many children, youth, and adults who come to the studio to dance!

How is the Merritt dance studio supported in the community?

It is very well supported by the Merritt community who loves attending our classes and our twice a year recitals.

Love To Dance fundraisers are well supported by the community and we are fortunate to always have enthusiastic volunteers to help whenever they are needed.

Tell me about the different dance genres you offer.

Currently our main dance genres are Ballet, Modern Jazz, Spanish Flamenco, and Latin Line Dance.

From time to time Love To Dance offers workshops or short sessions of other dance styles such as Hip Hop, Tap, Musical Theatre/Broadway, Contemporary, Highland Dancing, Bollywood and Country Line Dance.

You put on twice yearly performances. A lot of the dances are choreographed by you, Vanessa, and your Love to Dance dancers.

Merritt Dance Studio concerts

Love to Dance Winter Concert Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

LTD Display

Love To Dance Poster Display of Dancers Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Ballet Shoes

LTD Red Ballet Shoes Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

What are your inspirations for the themes and performance?

Life and what is going on around us… sometimes fun and sometimes deep and meaningful. We choose themes showing that we are different, but the same.

Your dance recitals are so enjoyable for the community!

Not only do we watch a themed story unfold onstage, but the Civic Centre is always full of beautiful displays focusing on the dancers and the culture of dance….

Merritt Dance Studio Instructor

Lizette Nel, Head Dance Instructor Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Can you share your dance background with us, Lizette?

Training:  I was introduced to the world of dance at age 5, in Johannesburg South Africa.  I did not like it, but fortunately my mom did not give up and reintroduced me to dance a year later.

In the beginning I was very shy and could not face an audience, but I loved the dancing and movement to music. However, I did all my dance exams and in my final year of school, I decided to become a dance teacher.

Work Experience:  Before coming to Canada, I owned and operated a successful dance studio in South Africa , where I successfully trained hundreds of young dancers and prepared them to enter exams, festivals and competitions with confidence, always striving for excellence.

 In addition to teaching and running a studio, I also provided mentorship for some dance instructors in South Africa. Consequently, I created an online dance network as a resource and networking tool for dance teachers, and was a founding organizer of the national “Eisteddfod of the Performing Arts”, a prestigious dance event of its kind in South Africa

It continues to this day, attracting thousands each year.

I was also a judge for the National Society on Dance Teachers as well as a lecturer in the Movement Science Department of the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

 It was a journey for you to be here with us in the Nicola Valley. Can you tell us a little about that journey?

When I became aware of the possibility of teaching in Merritt BC Canada, I started the process of obtaining a work permit, a very long process.

I started teaching in the dance studio in the old Courthouse in December 2012. After teaching for a year, there was a delay in the renewing process of my work permit, and I had to return to South Africa for a few months.

The local students and their parents were very disappointed that we had to leave. The community wrote petition letters and did fundraisers. Fortunately everything got sorted out and we returned in August 2014, just in time for the new dance year to start.

What inspires you?

Young Dancers at Merritt Dance Studio

LTD Young Dancer Photo Courtesy of Vanessa van Rensburg

I’ve had five dance teachers. Two of them, Janet King and Dorothy de Witt still inspire me. Also the smiling faces and chuckles in the dance studio inspire me.
Our Merritt dance family’s dedication and strong will to succeed inspires me even more.

Every new day and the fact that God’s loving kindness starts fresh each day inspires me.

What support do you receive in your role in your Merritt Dance Studio?

Non Profit Volunteers

Love To Dance Volunteers Photo Courtesy of Love to Dance

I have strong support from the Merritt community.  I am very grateful for the many volunteers involved in the many Love To Dance activities. They make it possible for us to successfully present many extra dance opportunities and related activities.
My children in South Africa support what I do and always encourage me.


Without Herman, my husband, keeping things together in the background and the assistance and hard work of Vanessa, my daughter, the Love to Dance Academy will not be able to exist

How do you relax, and give yourself a break?

Gardening.

Favourite things about Merritt?  

Four definite seasons in a year!

Favourite Music?

Classical harp

What role does dance have in society?

I am particularly conscious of the benefits of dance and I promote my programs as a holistic tool for physical fitness, and mental, emotional and social health. We promote character building for youth and motor planning for seniors and people with disabilities.
In addition, dance develops physical strength, co-ordination, and good posture.
Dance improves self confidence and positive body image. Dance builds self discipline
.

Ballet Dancing

Love To Dance Ballet Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Dance Concert

Participants in a Love to Dance Recital! Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

What effect do you feel Love to Dance has on our community?

Community Dancers

LTD Dancing in the Community Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Our young students learn to take charge of their lives by being responsible for scheduling and costumes and by managing their time wisely. They take pride in work well done, show leadership with younger dancers, and experience the value of teamwork and supporting others.

They are growing into mature, confident adults and they set an example which has a positive influence on younger dancers.

These positive effects are felt around our community.

Love to Dance brings together all ages, and the different ages interact and dance together in the recitals. It is a joy to see the older students take the young ones by hand and include them in the specially choreographed dances! I can feel and hear the pleasure in the audience around me at this collaboration of ages and levels of dance.

Community Dance

Love to Dance Valentine’s Tea Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

For the older dancers of 55 plus, in the program, “Dance for Lifelong Wellbeing,” the benefits of dance include brain agility, fitness, improved balance and reduced stress. This contributes to their independent longevity, and their ongoing participation in the community.

 In this Covid 19 pandemic, we taught our students (and their parents) to be grateful, and to not give up. We taught them to not wait for it to pass, but to accept it and make the best of it. We put new things in place. Our students made it through 10 weeks of doing things differently and they’ve learned many new skills.  It was hard, but we all survived and we’ve all become stronger.

We hope that this will spread wider and have a positive influence on our community.

What challenges does your dance studio, Love To Dance, face?


We are challenged with how to catch up the three months during covid – recovery of financial loss over three months with little income, continued rental and utility, and other commitments.

The whole world is currently turned upside down and inside out. But we see these obstacles as stepping stones, not mountains.

Street Dance

LTD Street Dance in Merritt Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

In this time of Covid 19, how is Love to Dance managing to stay connected with the dancers and the community?

SET UP VIRTUAL DANCE STUDIO

When we had to close our physical doors at the end of the day on March 16, after just one day of Spring Dance Camp, we decided to explore the possibility of changing from a brick and mortar dance studio to a virtual dance studio.

We attended many webinars presented by four different dance associations and got ourselves set up for Zoom classes and coaching by video.

To keep the interest in dance going, we lowered our class fees to encourage attendance.

BALLET

Ballet Dancer

LTD Ballet Dancer Photo Courtesy of Vanessa van Rensburg

To give our Royal Academy of Dance ballet students and parents hope, we continued to practice as if our exams, which were scheduled for April 29, were going to take place. 

Students could attend our Zoom ballet classes once per week and they could also make use of our private coaching by video option. 

This worked really well for some students, who had the full support of their parents. But as always happens, we unfortunately also had some dropping out (“stopping dance until the brick and mortar studio re-opens”)…. 

Most dancers have lots of self-discipline and keep up their daily practice while they are placed under movement restrictions, but we notice that they still needed to see each other to feel connected and to be motivated. The weekly Zoom dance classes really help to create some sense of normalcy. 


SPANISH  FLAMENCO

Thirteen of our Spanish Flamenco dance students successfully completed their exams by video at the end of April. 

 

Dance Studio

Herman Nel, Technical Expert for Love to Dance Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

SENIORS

We also set up ZOOM exercise classes for our seniors to help improve their balance, posture and flexibility and also improve your sense of well being – physical, emotional and mental. Payment for classes is by donation.

None of this would have been possible without Herman, my husband. To set all of this up, was a steep learning curve and involved some expenses.

What is next for Love to Dance?

We want to expand opportunities and restructure the dance program to accommodate what is currently happening all over the world.  It will be a constant dynamic situation going forward.

Keep an eye on Love To Dance’s current initiative that the members of Love to Dance Society can participate in.

Ongoing MEDAL TESTS

To further keep the interest in dance going we started having Medal Awards by video during the months of May and continue for June. This is open to everyone in Merritt and the Nicola Valley. Participants can enter Ballet, Jazz, Spanish and Folk/National dances – set dances and/or own choreography and interpretive dancing.

We noticed how the fun element and dancing with family members can bring the joy of dance into homes, so we added a section in which you can partner up with a sibling or parent or grandparent to dance a duet. 

Video submissions must happen before June 26 and participants will each receive a bronze, silver or gold certificate and medal in the beginning of July.

Merritt Dance Studio

Thank you, Lizette, for telling us all about the Love to Dance Academy! Many of us in the community are grateful to have an inspired dance studio here in Merritt.

Just one more advantage to living here in the Nicola Valley!

Support our art and culture in our community!

We hope to see the doors of the Love To Dance Studio open soon!
Merritt Dance Studio

Love To Dance Studio, still closed Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Artist Cassandra Dolen

Dance in the Nicola Valley Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Dance Teacher

LTD Head Dance Instructor Lizette Nel Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

CONTACT LOVE TO DANCE

1976 Quilchena Avenue, +1 250 378 9898

www.lovetodanceacademy.com

LTDADANCE@GMAIL.COM

Facebook Love to Dance Academy

Instagram Love to Dance Academy, The Merritt Dance Teacher

Art and Culture Blogger, Jano Howarth

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Large  Chocolate Chip Cookies 

This Recipe is here to save your day! Try this Large Batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies today!

“One bite of these large chocolate chip cookies and all of your cares seem to slip away. But, and there is always a but, when dipped slowly into a cool glass of milk, or enjoyed with a steaming mug of hot coffee this is a moment you can savor and be present.”

 

Large Chocolate Chip Cookies – To begin with I am so thankful you stopped by today! I am very excited to be sharing with you, from my home kitchen in Logan Lake, BC, Canada,  my famous home-cooked recipe for large chocolate chip cookies! Honestly there are just some days you need a large batch of chocolate chip cookies… And fast!!! For example you might be looking to feed your hungry household, run a day care, need an extra large batch of chocolate chip cookies for an after school program or church function. Maybe even get a  jump on your Christmas cookie exchange!!!

Grandma’s Large Chocolate Chip Cookies  

For us, our reason for so many cookies is because we are a large family. I am mama of 7 kiddos, yes you read that right, and there ages 12 to 20 months.  On the whole these large batch chocolate cookies are here to save your day like they often have saved mine. I really wanted to share this family recipe to everyone in need of a bunch of cookies! In short these large batch chocolate chip cookies are certainly a delight! Chocolaty, the perfect reminiscent crisp and chewy mouthful from your childhood. I would know, as this cookie recipe has been passed down generations and now I am sharing it with my kids and you, my friends online. 

Freezer Cookies

Big Kid Approved

Busy Mama in the Kitchen 

Raising 7 children in the rugged and beautiful mountains of British Columbia Canada. That is me.  The other day we woke up  and the weather was so crisp and chilly. In other words, days like that are the best time to create a slow living day. We like to use baking times to our advantage. We love to teach applicable math skills to little ones and community in the kitchen. Having kids mix batter or add ingredients, and of course subtraction as the cookies cool off. You could say our kitchen seems like the heart beat of our home, Or maybe that is the laundry room. Either way if either of those rooms go down we are toast.  For example, when I get in the kitchen more often than not everything is “large batch”, likewise if I get in the laundry room —large batches in there also!

Busy Mamas are Always Prepared

It’s so great to have a freezer stocked up for the foreseeable future full of snacks or yummy treats. I also loved having large batch chocolate chip cookies ready for when we would go on day trips and pack a quick picnic lunch. Honestly, to have a freezer stocked with soups, snacks, granola bars, muffins and casseroles helps me stay on track of the home so much better. It also gives me peace of mind if someone gets sick, or I need a night off. In addition its perfect when we had friends pop over, so easy to thaw and enjoy. But there is also something so delicious about a homemade chocolate chip cookie. Yum…Yum!  

Fresh baked large chocolate chip cookies

Large Family – Baking Day!

One Bite of These Large Chocolate Chip Cookies and … 

… all of your cares seem to slip away. But, and there is always a but,  when dipped slowly into a cool glass of milk, or enjoyed with a steaming mug of hot coffee this is a moment you can savor and be present. Able to smile and find simple happiness. Enjoy the fruit of your labors. Likewise pause and look into the eyes of those you love and connect. Therefore, I am actively inputting  a lasting memory into the ones I love. Even though we are in a time of crisis you can chose to capture moments. As a result you create a anchor point of security and safety and comfort. This large batch of chocolate chip cookies will offer you comfort and nostalgia (Hi Garndma!) and an opportunity to practice being present and mindfulness. 

Kitchen Aid Mix Master

Baking with “littles” is always an adventure.

The Best Large Family Batch Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour 

2 tsp baking soda

1  tsp salt 

2 cups of vegetable shortening 

 1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

4 cups of chocolate chips  

*Optional*

1 – 2 cups chopped nuts 

Directions:

Pre-Heat Oven 375F

First of all. In a small bowl combine your flour, baking soda and salt. And set this aside.

Secondly in your large mixing bowl. Cream your shortening, brown sugar,  sugars in your mixing bowl for 2 mins on high. After that add in your eggs and vanilla extract. Then next your going to begin to add your dry mixture to the wet mixture. Gradually add your flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and chopped nuts. 

Drop by round measuring tablespoonfuls onto your cookie sheet. With this in mind I always use parchment paper in my baking. Bake 375F for 9-11 minutes. Additionally this makes about 10 dozen large batch chocolate chip cookies – Give or take a few.

Fresh Cookies

Chocolaty, Chewy.

You have 7 kids!? “How do you feed them all!?”

I am so grateful you took the time to read about one of the recipes that our family utilizes. As soon as people are initially introduced to me and learn that I am large family mom of 7 children. Undoubtedly, one questions I’m usually asked is, “how do you feed them all? I struggle just feeding myself.”

I am so excited to be able to start sharing how we raise our family here. Hoping to be able to bring a ton of motherhood, homeschooling and lifestyle content. Initially I really should disclose our days are so busy and full. And I really strive to try to capture the art of slow living in our bustling household.  Minimizing and streamlining areas of our lives are always my goal. For this reason a lot of my recipes are always large batch! And hence why large chocolate chip cookies were born.

If your interested in a more complete post on how we “feed them all”, a glimpse at our weekly or monthly meal plans or anymore larger than life recipes ( I have a bunch!!!!) Let me know in the comments below! 

Large Chocolate Chip Cookies Grandma Use To Make

Logan Lake, British Columbia, Canada

 

Merritt British Columbia Canada Top Travel Guides

COVID-19 IN MERRITT BC

HOW TO SELF ISOLATE IN STYLE

Fun Things To Do in Merritt To Break the Boredom
 

The COVID-19 in Merritt BC has citizens embracing the directives from our health authorities.  For my wife and myself this means self isolating ourselves. We are not quarantined, so we are able to go out for essential services such as groceries once a week or so.

GETTING THINGS DONE

  1. Converting CD’s

COVID-19 in Merritt BC

Gathering the materials

One of the nice things about self isolating during COVID-19 is that you now have time to tackle some jobs that you have been putting off because other things take you away from these tasks.  For example, I have wanted to convert my CD’s to digital and store them online. Ditto goes with my photos as well.

However, my procrastination has caused me some grief because technology has moved on and my computer does not have a CD drive.  To solve this problem I resurrected my old computer that did have the necessary drive to carry out this task.  This machine was extremely slow and was several releases of Windows 10 behind the times.  Despite these problems I persevered and the task was completed. 

2. Resurrecting the craft room 

We have a room downstairs that was originally going to be our craft room but overtime it became a storage room.  We had luggage, Christmas decorations, boxes of memorabilia and all kinds of other stuff which left no space to actually do any crafts.  This project is massive and is therefore still on going.

Emptying the storage room

Emptying the storage room

Putting the Craft Room back together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Spring Cleaning in Merritt

What better time is there for tackling those cleaning exercises than when you can’t go anywhere.

Getting ‘er done

4.  Yard Work

Thatching the grass

The early Spring is a great time to get a jump on your gardening chores.  Things such as clearing out the winter die off, pruning, weeding and de-thatching.  The rewards will show within weeks.

Not all self isolation activities during COVID-19 is work!

1. Baking

This is one activity that is lots of fun and has great rewards when finished.  I myself am not a great baker but I can whip  up a great plate of Rice Krispy squares.  This time I added some crushed candy cane to add a little tasty addition to the recipe.

Rice Krispy Squares

Chili and Hamburger Soup

“I love food”-Shirley

My wife is a much better cook than I am.  She whipped up some of our favourite dishes, hamburger soup and Chili.

2.  Reading

Reading is one of my favourite things to do any time.  However with the COVID-19 in Merritt BC we have more time for reading.  I see one problem looming in the near future and that is the library is closed and so are the thrift stores that I get my reading supply from.  I guess I will have to step into the new age and get my books online.

Reading time

3.  Walking

Since we are not quarantined we can go out for walks.  There generally is no one  around but if we do meet someone we keep our separation of 2 metres.  It’s a great time for walking as Spring is beginning to show up everywhere.  We could use many of the trails around our house but it is tic season and so we are keeping away from these areas for now.

Out for a walk

4.  Games

Games are a big part of our life so it is fitting that we spend time doing this. We play card games and board games but not computer games.  The only downside is that we love to play games with our friends and that just doesn’t work during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Playing Canasta

This is serious

The Covid-19 in Merritt, BC is a serious matter.  There are things to remember  such as the pandemic will end, especially if we follow the advise of our National, Provincial and Community Governments.  There are many ways to keep in touch using such things as FACETIME and other equivalent programs or, even try,  the old fashion way by using the phone. 

COVID-19 Important Links

COVID 19 in Merritt BC

British Columbia COVID-19

Canada COVID-19

BE SAFE

COVID-19 IN MERRITT BC

Check out further information on ExperienceNicolaValley.com 

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