MASC

LEAVE NO JIGGER BEHIND! Overview of first Métis Jigging workshop at Stonecrest Elementary

The first workshop went well! The students were very enthusiastic and engaged. I started with a brief overview of the Métis and Métis dancing. I shared my story and explained what we would be doing over the next couple of weeks — learning the Red River Jig! Then I performed the dance to show them what it will look like. They asked questions along the way.

We tried a few different ways of learning the basic jig step. Some of the students were a bit shy to introduce themselves in the opening circle and to share anything about their background. One or two struggled to get the steps but overall most caught on quickly. I’m going to focus on ‘leave no jigger behind’ in the next session. We’re going to slow it down again and all wait until everyone gets it before we move on. I tried to emphasize diversity of learning styles means we all have different ways of catching on.

Also, I really loved when the Marina, the Stonecrest Elementary principal, joined in. She was very supportive in helping students one on one with me and gave me great feedback after the session. If possible I’d love to show them a few videos in the next sessions — with full speakers and LCD projector. I will also get them on stage to do blocking and prepare them for the live performance at the Awesome Arts Festival.

Ginny Gonneau, Métis Jigger, MASC Artist

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Dandelion Dance

Dandelion Dance Company Reflections

Annika:

“I loved how I got the opportunity to work and dance with other young women in Ottawa West. In the beginning, I found it challenging when some girls weren’t willing to participate in discussions and in creating pieces. Through this experience, however, I was reminded of the unique and special opportunity the Dandelion Dance Performance Company offers and how lucky I am to be part of a dance company that explores social justice issues through movement. Dandelion has helped me grow into the person I am today and the Neighbourhood 150 Project made me feel so thankful and appreciative.”

I also learnt how privileged I am to live in a neighbourhood with little to no violence and in a community that is so welcoming and loving. From our discussions, I found out that not every neighbourhood is like mine.”

Nada:

“The Neighbourhood Arts 150 project helped me reconnect with my community and realize how amazing it is! Many of the girls who came to the workshops live in my area and they taught me how supportive and caring my neighbourhood is! The Neighbourhood Arts 150 project taught me how amazing it is to be a women in Canada!”

Kaia:

“The Neighbourhood Arts 150 project was an amazing experience and I’m very fortunate to have been a part of it. I learned about the many points of view girls have when it comes to what it means to be a girl in 2017 and that there are many layers that contribute to these different ideas. One layer is the neighbourhood we end up in and how it shapes who we are. We had discussions where some girls expressed how grateful they are of where we live and the opportunities that are offered to us. Other girls expressed the many improvements that need to take place.

This experience has deepened my understanding of my neighborhood, of my city, and of my country because I really connected with the people inside them. It allowed me to see in many different lights.”

Emily:

“I love to dance – wholeheartedly! It is an art that is incredibly undervalued in today’s society. It brought such a smile to my face when watching the Ottawa West participants dance, create their pieces, and really open up during the workshops.

One particular thing I learned during Neighbourhood Arts 150 is to really listen to people. During the workshops I learned how to interpret people’s feelings and ideas. One girl I worked with was very shy. She would stand and wave her arms just slightly when we were all dancing. I was put into a group with her to create a little piece with a beginning, middle and end. Everyone was offering their opinions but when prompted she said she didn’t have any ideas. Slowly, I learned that I couldn’t directly ask her a question that correlated with the dance piece. Instead, we talked and made jokes about life and I subtly inserted questions about school and what does she hope to do in the future. It turns out she dreams of being a pediatric surgeon! We decided to incorporate this into a dance about our hopes and dreams for our future.

Everyone is different, and has varying life experiences. No two people are the same. Some people take more time than others; some share their opinion readily and some need a gentle push. We cannot expect someone to be a certain way and we must adapt and change our methods each and every time. I think that this is an important lesson that I have learned over the course of Neighbourhood Arts 150.”

Nicole:

“What I found so amazing was to see the participants grow so much in a matter of weeks! Naturally, they all started, shy and nervous, not too sure how to express their ideas. However, come the final day, the girls were so joyful and able to communicate their thoughts. They performed fearlessly!”

 

Dandelion Dance

The Dandelion Approach

 

Director of the Dandelion Dance Performance Company and Neighbourhood Arts 150 artist-facilitator, Kelsey Walsh, shares some of her thoughts regarding community-engaged arts.

Dandelion Dance has profoundly shaped my work as a community-engaged artist. Integrating arts and developmental psychology, the Dandelion approach focuses on attachment – building authentic relationships with participants. I have experienced time and again how attachment sets the stage for dance – and other arts – to become an incredible tool for self-discovery, creation, and leadership.

What exactly do I mean by attachment? As an artist-educator, I aim to create a context for connection, taking the time needed to listen and learn about my participants, and for my participants to listen and learn from each other. This is how a space can materialize where participants feel comfortable opening up and speaking through their art making.

arms up dandelionTaking the time to build relationships allows those in a creative process to recognize their shared vulnerabilities. From this vulnerable place, participants let go of judgments that tend to be responsible for blocking creativity, or growth, or friendship.

Relationships also build trust and trust is key when it comes to capacity building. Although 5 weeks is a short time-span, my goal with the Neighbourhood Arts 150 project is that the girls I work with want to trust me and that they truly feel I am on their side. When those we work with trust our judgment, they begin to recognize their capacity because we have recognized it.  When participants see themselves through our eyes they become the powerful and creative artists we glimpsed from day one!

kelsey dandelionWorking with Dandelion Dance has also taught me that there are times when participants’ capacities are hidden. Too often girls don’t believe in themselves and it can be hard to help them feel confident enough to collaborate and contribute. In these cases, we have to imagine because, ultimately we know each girl has so much to share. Dandelion Dance’s approach is this:

…imagine what you wish to see in your participants,

…tell your participants you see their capacities – even when you don’t –

…and be patient.

When you see and speak to the beauty in a dancer – and there is always beauty – they will begin to relax, let go, and dance beautifully!

Whether or not you are the most exciting and innovative artist or the most compelling and passionate teacher, I believe you have to be in genuine relationship with those you work with in order to truly engage in social change.

A community, just like a child, already has everything inside them. Our role, as community-engaged artists and practitioners, is to create a space where the discovery of human potential can unfold.

Kelsey Walsh, Director of Performance Company, Head of Youth Programs

kelsey@dandeliondance.ca