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Music, dance and art camp making its debut

FOR children who want to float like a butterfly or play like Beethoven, Camp Monarch may be the place to be this spring.

FOR children who want to float like a butterfly or play like Beethoven, Camp Monarch may be the place to be this spring.

The music, art, and dance camp is making its spring debut on the North Shore after offering a summer camp each year for the last decade.

"I had just retired from Ballet B.C. in the spring of 2003 and was looking for different ways to use my dance knowledge and keep my foot in the dance world but do my own thing," says Kristen Glen, discussing the birth of the arts camp.

Glen and her cousin Erin Deighton, the music teacher at Collingwood junior in West Vancouver, decided to put on a music/dance camp. The first year was a lean one, attracting only 11 students, but those campers may have enjoyed themselves, because it wasn't long before Camp Monarch was at capacity.

"Over the years, we ended up selling out with an average of 45 students each year," says Glen.

While the camp has grown, it has also diversified. The two artistic cousins eventually added a musical theatre program and a fine arts section, taught by portrait artist Meredith Blackmore. Having four distinct but complementary disciplines helped give the summer session all the ingredients for a rousing, endof-the-camp performance.

"At the end of the twoweek program we now put on a pretty large scale show where the children have designed the sets themselves, they've often made props and costume pieces, jewelry, they're singing the songs, they're helping with the choreography, they're doing the dance. The show is entirely made by and performed by the children," says Glen.

The spring camp is only one week, from March 12 to 16, and Glen says that should mean more frequent, smaller performances.

"It will be a condensed version of our summer program, and instead of working towards a show on the final day. . . at the end of each day we'll do a shorter, more impromptu performance for parents."

Part of what separates Monarch from other camps is the expertise and enthusiasm of the instructors, according to Glen.

"All of us are active in our fields. We're completely passionate about what we're doing so it's not just that we're teachers, we're actually artists in our fields. I think when you come to work completely inspired and passionate about what you're doing. . . it's contagious, and the kids are just little sponges and what they accomplish is phenomenal."

Although many children arrive at the camp with their eyes down and their arms clasped firmly around their parent's leg, Glen says that soon changes with a combination or nurturing, instruction, and games.

"It's just a very welcoming environment and all of us are parents, too," says Glen.

"As they create things or they learn things or they choreograph new dances, they like to do little mini-shows for each other. . . because they're just so proud of what they've learned."

Although the instructors are professionals, Glen stresses that the camp is for everyone.

"Even though we're able to offer a very high calibre of instruction it is recreational and we welcome children of all abilities. You don't have to have any experience."

The camp costs $295 and is for children between the ages of five and 12.

More information can be found at http: //www.

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