The working life of a dancer is not all showbiz and stage time. Countless hours are also devoted to rehearsals, choreography, classes and workshops.
Workshops are a welcomed spinoff of any touring dance show. It is here that local dancers can break the fourth wall and engage in the communal art form of dance with visiting professionals.
Decidedly Jazz Danceworks was recently here to present wowandflutter, a show that expresses the company’s commitment to dance, creativity and innovation.
Shortly after the company’s arrival, the DJD performers began teaching workshops. In these workshops, dancers shared a love of their dance form by leading classes in jazz styles, such as roots jazz, Afro funk, West African, and even shared some of their repertoire with local dancers.
With classes organized by SYIDA, more than 45 people crowded the Yukon Arts Centre for the better part of a Saturday. It was SYIDA’s and DJD’s intention to bring together people of all walks of life in order to share and explore dance; specifically, the origins of jazz.
The day consisted of classes in Roots Jazz for children, Afro Funk for mixed ages and West African for adults. The movement in the classes was such that it was accessible to both technically trained and non-trained dancers alike.
As well as the community dance workshops, classes were also held at Northern Lights School of Dance. I had the opportunity to participate in one of the DJD workshops at the studio.
Shayne Johnson, one of the dancers from DJD, taught a section of the company’s repertoire. The West African-styled choreography was fast and frantic. The class was thrilled to be learning something from the actual show and gave it their all.
The windows of the studio steamed up from the sweat and energy in the room. It was great to watch some of the dancers whisper and nudge each other during the wowandflutter performance when they recognized the section of choreography they had learned in class.
SYIDA hopes that community dance classes will be a trend that will continue when other dance companies visit the Yukon.