The Heart and Soul Dance and Theatre Collective performed at The Arts Station last weekend. Ezra Black/The Free Press

Heart, soul and the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’

The Heart and Soul Dance and Theatre Collective recently performed

About 30 years ago, Alana Minifie-Rybar helped found The Arts Station with her high school’s theatre collective.

“I was a kid,” she said. “We sang, we handed out lemonade and we performed.”

Over the weekend she was back on the stage, performing alongside one of her daughters and their friends in a live theatre performance of a circus inspired show called Under The Big Top.

“How cool is that,” she said after Sunday’s performance. “It’s come full circle.”

Minifie-Rybar is the owner of the Heart and Soul Dance and Theatre Collective. Her show featured dozens of dance numbers that touched on themes of diversity, inclusivity and acceptance.

For example, one of the dancers, Shaylyn Johnson, performed with glitter beard in a symbolic protest of all those makeover shows where girls end up “skinny and stunning and not at all like themselves,” said Minifie-Rybar.

“I hate those,” she added.

Minifie-Rybar hopes that her cast learned a few lessons by putting on a show that chronicles life in the circus; a place where misfits are accepted and celebrated.

“It’s a commitment I made to myself a few years ago that everything I put on stage, I want it to have some kind of meaning and purpose,” she said. “Not just for the audience but for the performers.”

She thanked the dozens of performers and dancers, some of who had traveled all the way from Montana, for making the show a success.

Before leaving The Arts Station to attend a cast party at the nearby Fernie Hotel, Minifie-Rybar likened musical theatre to giving birth.

“It can be very stressful getting ready for a show but after its done, you only remember the good parts,” she said.

Minifie-Rybar has an impressive resume. She’s worked at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. For seven years she owned and operated her own theatre company in Fernie.

“I just shut it down last year,” she said. “And everybody cried because they thought it was over.”

“I had so many students but I couldn’t do this kind of stuff, I didn’t have enough time, so I had to make a choice,” she said. “Now I can say yes to these kind of things that I’ve always wanted to do but never had time before.”