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Honouring Dance in Canada

Dance Collection Danse brings back the Encore! Dance Hall of Fame By Emma Kerson
  • Veronica Tennant and Evelyn Hart / Photo courtesy of Dance Collection Danse
  • Veronica Tennant / Photo courtesy of Dance Collection Danse
  • Danny Grossman / Photo courtesy of Dance Collection Danse

On Sunday, March 25, the Encore! Dance Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was held at The Globe and Mail Centre, hosted by CBC journalist Laurie Brown. The event acted as both a celebration of its inductees and as a Dance Collection Danse (DCD) fundraising event.

An event of this nature had already taken place and served as inspiration for this iteration. In the 80s, Miriam and Lawrence Adams (the founders of DCD) began a reconstruction project focusing on six Canadian choreographers making work in the 1940s and 50s. In an effort to document and preserve these pioneering choreographic works and establish Canadian dance history, the unique project culminated with a celebration, the launch of the Encore! Dance Hall of Fame at which nine different inductees were chosen to be celebrated at a gala event held at Casa Loma.

Though a second induction ceremony lived as an on-and-off-again dream for decades by Amy Bowring, DCD’s director of collections and research, and co-founder Miriam Adams, the actual impetus to plan the event was an absolute whirlwind. “We worked very quickly,” Adams said. “We started this idea in the fall and people said, ‘You’ll never be able to do it!’ ” With the power of Vickie Fagan, manager of donor relations, an event coordinator was quickly brought on, a launch committee was formed and selections were made. The launch committee members were Tess Mclean, Veronica Tennant, Nicole Rose Bond, Jane Spooner, Zoe Kenneally, Judith Slivinski and event producer Anisa Tejpar. The committee worked closely with DCD staff and was able to confirm high-profile presenters like Evelyn Hart, Micah Barnes, Sheila McCarthy, Deepti Gupta, Louise Bédard, Seika Boye, Pam Grundy and Pierre Des Marais. The launch committee was not involved in selecting the inductees.

According to Adams, the selection process for the inductees was no easy feat and was ultimately based on the years of research and knowledge of the DCD staff. “It was knowing the history,” she explained, “and being able to identify people in the country who have made a major achievement to dance in their own particular genre or in their own community. We were picking key people, but there will be many more. It was hard to choose.” The selection committee started out with three inductees but quickly realized they were missing key members of Canadian dance history. The number went up to five and then to seven. Then the organization decided to also pay tribute to Jerry and Joan Lozinski, who are community builders within the dance community – patrons who have helped many dancers and dance companies.

Inducted this year in addition to the Lozinskis were Veronica Tennant, Danny Grossman, Karen Jamieson, Ola Skanks, Rina Singha, Alan and Blanche Lund, René Highway and Jeanne Renaud. Videos were created and presented in tandem with each award as a way to share the stories of each inductee’s career. These videos can be found on the event’s website. Ever the historians, Bowring and Adams hope to share the work of the inductees and the Encore! Dance Hall of Fame by housing an online museum.

When asked about the meaning behind this project, Adams recounted how “People were very moved by learning about artists that they had never heard about and by being witness to the accomplishments of these people over time. They were and are people who have dedicated their lives to dance, so it was really very moving.”

And no, it won’t be another thirty-year wait for the next induction ceremony. In fact, the success of this year’s event has already set the wheels in motion for another celebration next year. With less urgency in the planning, Adams would like “to have more representation on the selection committee and more national representation,” with ceremonies in other Canadian cities.

Ultimately, the event was a celebration of major contributors to Canadian dance.

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