“I think it’s wonderful to see other people doing dance, something that I love so much! I loved how most of the participants are brand new to dance and yet very brave to try something so different!” says Maya of Dandelion Dance Performance Company.
Young girls from Ottawa West are creating art and dancing their way to self-expression while exploring what it means to be Canadian in 2017. This Neighbourhood Arts 150 project entitled Celebrating Canada Through Diversity and Dance is a series of six workshops lead by Dandelion Dance Company that will culminate in a final performance.
The first three workshops took place from April 9th – April 23rd, after finding participants through the Homework Clubs taking place at the Pincrest-Queensway Community Health Centre. “Working with the partners was really great, they’ve been very supportive and it’s been great to see how much work towards community engagement there is in Ottawa West.” said Kelsey Walsh, director of Dandelion Dance Company.
The workshops themselves are multi-disciplinary, with dance as the foundation, as it is with Dandelion Dance Company. “With these workshops and with such a limited time to interact with these girls, integrating other art forms has been a great way for them to feel comfortable and confident. For those whom dance is not their most comfortable art form, the other arts provide a means for them to express themselves comfortably. The final product will be the outcome of these multi-arts workshops.”
Workshop 1 emphasized connection and taking risks. The participants stepped out of their comfort zones to dance together, share perspectives, discuss what it means to be a girl in 2017 in Canada, and support each other.
In workshop 2 they took powerful self-portraits that have also shed light on how these Canadian girls see themselves. They’re looking to find a way to integrate these photographs into their final performances.
In Workshop 3 explored two themes: dreams and place, the girls worked at bringing both their dreams, and their ideas about ‘where you live and how this impacts you’, onto paper. Two collective collages emerged, maps of sorts, which chart the thoughts of 17 girls when it comes to how they see themselves and how they see the world. Later, on their feet, the girls created frozen pictures representing what they wish for and what they celebrate in the here and now.
The girls used their bodies as puppets, taking turns being the puppet or the puppet master. This exercise allowed participants to illustrate how sometimes they don’t get to be in control of their situation, of what they want or where they live.
“Together we realized that some of us love where we live and some of us feel shame. We discovered that most of us have a thirst for travel. We confirmed that all of us want to make our lives, our neighbourhood, our communities more equal and safe for women.”
In workshop 4 the girls will focus on compiling all that they have explored so far and will begin to create their final performance.“This is an amazing learning opportunity for everyone involved. Every girl taking part has a different background, a unique story, and it’s important that they all have a chance to express their story, their individuality. It is especially important to have the voices of new Canadian girls included in the 150 celebrations. I’m looking forward to seeing the girls take on more agency, and seeing what they create.”Want to see the final outcome of the workshops?
There are two performances happening at the Bayshore Shopping Centre on May 13th at 11:00AM and 2:00PM. Click here for more information.