Community Dance Partnerships & Dance For Youth Forums

Dance For Youth Final Report!

With major funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Dance Ontario's Community Dance Partnerships have been off and running in several cities across the province. A natural extension of our Dance For Youth Forums, funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage and Trillium, we have worked with some wonderful dance enthusiasts who are partnering to develop innovative dance hubs in their local communities.

In LONDON, the November forum, facilitated by Debbie Kapp of the Lester B. Pearson School for the Arts , brought together educators from local school boards, venue and studio operators including Dance Extreme's Rebecca Brettingham, dance artists Menaka Thakkar,Michael DeConinck Smith of CCDT, Lacey Smith and Allen & Karen Kaeja, and the London Arts Council represented by Rebekah Morrison-Wize. Discussion was lively after a performance by Kaeja d'Dance. One of the attendees was London Community Players' board member, Barrie Tepperman,whose group was in the final stages of renovating The Palace Theatre and were considering developing a dance series for young people in order to reach a new demographic for their events. They later hired General Manager, Karen Killeen, and, under Dance Ontario's Community Dance Partnership Program, presented a SOLD-OUT gala performance to an enraptured audience featuring Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company on February 7.

Later, Canadian Children's Dance Theatre performed sold-out matinees representing the first in London Community Player's series of dance concerts for young people.

Forums in PARRY SOUND, SAULT STE MARIE and NORTH BAY facilitated by educator/artist Peter Ryan also brought together terrific local artists, school board representatives, enthusiastic venue operators and presenters.

Kudos to the Charles Stockey Centre's Dave Golden who worked so hard in Parry Sound. Canadian Children's Dance Theatre performed prior to a forum that included dance artist Santee Smith, Jocelyn Bell of the Near North District School Board and Tia Pearce of the Huntsville Festival of the Arts. We have since worked with Jocelyn in North Bay.

Ballet Creole brought young audiences to their feet after a show at the Kiwanis Theatre Centre in the Soo. Again the forum that followed generated a raft of fresh ideas from enthusiasts across the region including a new project Dances From A Distance scheduled for 2010. Our thanks go to Louisa Van Lith of the Algoma Fall Festival and Greg Marshall at the theatre for their help.

At the instigation of the indefatigable Jocelyn Bell with her other 'hat' - that of head of the Dance Dept at Widdifield Secondary School), forum participants joined students for delightful performance by Motus O Dance Theatre at North Bay's Capitol Centre on a cool and sunny Friday the 13 of February. Afterwards, we talked with many of the area's dance movers and shakers. The Capitol Centre's Dee Adrian joined Jocelyn, Jack Langenhuizen, James Croker, William Plumstead (CBACH/North Bay Arts Council) and Tia Pearse who we hope to work with over the next few years.

And, finally, in HAMILTON, a forum in 2008 followed a performance by AKA Dance and The Chimera Project at the Downtown Arts Centre (DAC)brought together local groups interested in increasing dance activity in the area. Our Community Dance Partnership saw fledgling alternative presenter Public Utility Performance and McMaster Dance (aka Patrick Brennan and Dave Wilson) collaborate on an innovative performance Krima...what a shame! choreographed by acclaimed choreographer Maxine Heppner presented @ the Downtown Arts Centre's Citadel 28 Gallery. First performed in Greece, it brought together approximately 40 performers, all but six from the local area. Krima premiered in Toronto at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in The Distillery District where Heppner set her work on approx 100 Toronto performers.


The final project took place in the spring of 2010 when the Hamilton Site-Specific Dance Festival staged an exciting dance event that included local and out of town performers in Hamilton's downtown core, taking in the AGH, Gore Park, James Street North, and other Hamilton areas. Sponsored by Dance Ontario and produced by Public Utility Performance and McMaster Centre for Dance Performance, the event utilized park spaces, galleries, sidewalks, loading docks, gardens, store windows, film projections and more.

Local community dance artists were Tanis MacArthur, Patrick Brennan, Rose Gowling, Ron Dejonkheere, Liz Bates, Grace Loney, Wendy Peng, The Blue Ladies & the Runaway Brides (Victoria Slager, Lauren Corindia), Heidi Ann Crocini, Defining Movement Dance (Josh Taylor, Josh Court), Beekaa Abraham, Emanuela Dussin, Tor Lukasik-Foss, Zubair, Belly Flow (Alecia May), Stylordz (Trx), Inner City Dance (Irina Aoucheva), Art's Equity Initiative (AEI) - Nea Reid, Olga Barrios, Freedom Studios (Christena Hampson-Covello), as well as Toronto professional companies, AX-S Dance (Kate Nankervis) and The Parahumans (Dave Wilson).

Images: Olga Barrios & Hamilton Parkour

Dance Ontario recognizes and thanks the Ontario Trillium Foundation for its commitment to increasing access to dance across the province.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation is an agency of the Government of Ontario. For 25 years, the Foundation has supported the growth and vitality of communities across the province. OTF continues to strengthen the capacity of the volunteer sector through investments in community-based initiatives. For more information, please visit

Dance Ontario's Community Dance Partnerships...building vibrant dance communities across the province!

Images: Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company, Ballet Creole by David Hou, Motus O Dance Theatre by James Croker, AKA Dance by Malgorzata Nowacka and Krima...What A Shame!