On the beach and on the stage

by Jini Stolk

I recently found myself taking a dance class on a beach. Our teacher, Maud, was a dance artist from the Netherlands whose expressive movements and infinite patience made it a totally joyful experience. (That plus the sea breeze, cloudless sky, and brilliantly coloured birds and flowers…)

Dance is an art form that I love professionally, as a fan, and as a very amateur participant. Anyone who’s taken any form of dance class knows how much it adds to the pleasure to seeing performances. Although you know you can’t do what the dancers do, you can feel their movements in your own body and have a sense of the strength, balance, artistry and physical courage that make what’s on stage so thrilling.

I wasn’t surprised when the Creative Trust Audience Engagement Survey revealed that 26% of surveyed dance audiences identified taking dance classes as a vital current activity (perhaps many of these were dance professionals), or that another 42% occasionally take dance classes or used to (perhaps these attenders are more like me…)

COBA (Collective of Black Artists) , resident in the Daniels Spectrum, is smart: they schedule classes in traditional and contemporary African & Caribbean dance concurrently for young and adult students so that parents bringing their kids to class can take a class on their own instead of sitting down with a coffee and muffin and the Globe and Mail. With so many varied dance companies on Toronto’s Parliament Street Dance Belt, there are numerous other opportunities for collaborative class scheduling and marketing.

And that brings me to my current adventure. I’m participating in a special fundraising event for Toronto Dance Theatre (sweetly promoted as intended for non-dancers with an interest in dance) in which I’ll rehearse and perform with the company in a special piece choreographed by Artistic Director Christopher House, culminating in a “high energy evening” performance and party on Saturday, April 5th at the Winchester Street Theatre. I can assure you that my energy is already high if a combination of terror and excitement counts. Your support for me – and much more importantly, for Toronto Dance Theatre – would be enormously appreciated.

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