Last month in Calgary, dancers and instructors from across Canada came together to host the first Canadian-led integrated dance teacher training workshop.
The workshop was an effort by Pamela Boyd, artistic director of MoMo Dance Theatre, to bring the integrated dance community together. Renata Soutter and Shara Weaver of Propeller Dance in Ottawa facilitated the event, with input from Naomi Brand of the All Bodies Dance Project in Vancouver, sharing their wealth of experience in integrated dance creation and education.
The workshop aimed to provide basic concepts and teaching tools for working with integrated dance, and twenty-two teachers participated in the inaugural week.
By bringing together artists and educators from across the country, there is a hope that the integrated dance community will continue to develop and flourish.
“Since the early days MoMo has been determined to counter the isolation inherent in developing the new genre of integrated dance theatre in this vast country of ours,” says Boyd. “Having a network of integrated dance professionals to rely on for mutual support and mentoring has been an essential ingredient in the development of the genre in the UK.”
The workshop was also an opportunity for Soutter and Weaver to start documenting their own teaching methodology and share it with the community. Along with Boyd and Brand, the pair are building the Canadian body of knowledge and method of teaching integrated dance.
“We think [our style and methodology] has a certain Canadian-ness specific to our work,” says Soutter. “Such as a deep listening and moving the quality of work deeply through polite and supportive practice.”
The facilitators hope to develop a phase two of the workshop that will go deeper in empowering and educating those who are interested in integrated dance.
“My personal artistic interests are in choreography and how we build collaborative creations that empower the artists and audience involved,” says Soutter. “This, while making powerful art that is both excellent and meaningful and moves towards shifting society’s perceptions towards a valuing and openness of all forms of difference.”
Boyd adds: “The development of integrated performance arts reflects the ultimate goal of a diverse society. A body of diverse artists performing in public can be a strong and powerful model for society.”