What is Dance good for Anyway?

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When I was a young dancer in school I often wondered if I had made the correct choice. Should I really put all of my future, dreams and finances into this passion I had lived for as a young girl? Was becoming an artist really contributing to the advancement of society?

I want you to take a moment and imagine life without Art. Without creativity, without imagination, ideas, story telling. Art is present in many different career possibilities. Engineering, architecture, industrial and product design all have their basis in Art. Without the imagination of artists would we be blessed with such engineering feats as the Golden Gate Bridge? A person without the imagination inherent to an artist could never have conceived of such a beautiful combination of form and function.  Consider the airplane. Only a dreamer could conceive of people flying through the air from one side of the earth to other in just one day.

Which brings me to this weekend. Two very exciting events for the community, taking Steps to Fly, and the Salt Truck Swing Live Art Dance Fundraiser.

Encouraging young artists to hone and build their creative souls, both events are important stepping stones for the dancers in this city. Live Art Dance, a local programmer, reaches out to the broader community for financial support to help cultivate dance culture in Halifax. In a beautiful and exciting evening the Salt Truck Swing features local Halifamous personalities in competition with each other choreographed by and performing with professional dancers. The dancer I’m working with is Kathleen Doherty paired with Halifamous project manager Stephen Vaslet VP of MHPM. Kathleen was once a recipient of the Taking Steps to Fly, an annual event giving young choreographers platform to showcase their budding talent, also taking place this weekend on Sunday.

Cliff Le Jeune of Dance Nova Scotia offers a bt of history on Taking Steps to Fly:

TAKING STEPS TO FLY continues to help and encourage young dancers to explore the challenges of choreographing for other dancers. Originally titled as Dance NS’s Open Studio Series, it was created by choreographers as an outlet for their work and a development tool  for the creation of new work. It was renamed Taking Steps to Fly in 2004 and billed as a competition for young choreographers, encouraging them to show their work and to be adjudicated by

Taking Steps to Fly has been a stepping stone for many young dancers/choreographers who have gone on to study their craft and many are now living a professional dance career. Some past winners have included: Rhonda Baker, Lydia Zimmer, Nickel-Peace Williams, Aliah Schwartz, Robyn Lane and Chloe Hart, to name a few. With the support the audiences bring to the show, we are helping to build the dance makers of the future and thus ensuring that dance as an art form will continue to flourish.

 

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Courtesy of Live Art Dance

Along with Kathleen Doherty many well known dancers have gone through this program. Lydia Zimmer, Rhonda Baker and Nickle Peace Williams are all past recipients of the Taking Steps to Fly first place award in the choreography competition. Williams is now in Montreal continuing her dance education. Zimmer will be presenting a full length production as part of Live Art Dance’s season programming , Baker is currently in New York City with Rebecca Lazier and Sara Coffin presenting “There might be Others” with an international cast to an international audience. Doherty has a special place in my heart for her incredible commitment as artistic director of Votive dance to present local dancers in annual and bi-annual full length professional shows.

So why are events like the Salt Truck Swing and Taking Steps to Fly important to our community? Because these are the kind of  community based organizations that nurture our artistic community young and emerging, which in turn builds imaginative, thinking, building human beings. Even if the young choreographers whom brave the spotlight this Sunday don’t become dancers like Zimmer, Doherty, Baker and Peace-Williams, they will have been given the chance to see their creative desire come to fruition which could in turn one day make an amazing advancement in technology, create the next beautiful structure or just be more inclined to live a life fulfilled by curiosity and innovation. The combination of these events help build upon the creative community in a Halifax.

Being a professional dancer has it’s ups and downs just as any career but as I finished my training I realized that Art is an integral and fundamental element within every society. Everything from cooking a meal at home to an interior design layout has the need to find inspiration in the every day. Artists help inspire the creative, bringing to light the beauty in the mundane. As people move faster motivated by the dollar amount in their bank account I hold steadfast in the belief that communities need to celebrate their artists for their commitment to seeing and cultivating the beauty in the everyday, slowing the pace and giving us the chance to contemplate the creative choices we make every day.

Salt Truck Swing Fundraiser – Live Art Dance

Doors: Saturday/ 7pm Show at 8pm/5 March/2016

The Common Room Atlantica Hotel 1980 Robie St.

Tickets: $50

Taking Steps to Fly

Sunday/7PM/ 6 March/ 2016

The McInnis Room The Dalhousie Student Union Building 6316 University Ave