Getting nutty

When young dancers are given full creative control to choreograph and develop their own performances, audiences are in for a treat. This is exactly what the audience of this month’s Go Nuts shows will have the opportunity to experience.

“The audience can expect two great shows that have been almost entirely created by the students of The Heart of Riverdale,” said Valérie Herdes, artistic director at the Heart of Riverdale. “The shows include student-choreographed dance pieces that range from contemporary to jazz to breaking (aka breakdancing), for which the dancers selected their music, created their movement and chose their costumes.

“I’m very excited by the excellent choreography that is being created by the dancers. Many of them are pushing themselves artistically and taking creative risks which is so exciting to witness as their teacher.”

Audience members will also get to see an exciting collaboration between the students of Jam League, the Heart of Riverdale’s new music program for students in grade six and up, and Krush Groove, the studio’s most advanced group of Bboys. 

“The musicians and dancers will take part in a live jam where the music being created will be directly inspired by the movement of the dancers, and where the movement will be directly inspired by the music being played,” said Herdes. “I think the music/dance collaboration will be magical and groundbreaking.”

Also on the program, the students of Jam Pack, the music component of the Heart of Riverdale’s new After School Crews program, will be sharing with the audience some of what they’ve been working on with Orff (a type of instrument used in music education)  and percussion instruments. 

Performers got into their dances at the 2019 Go Nuts performance

Lastly, both shows include three big production numbers that involve the centre’s entire pre-professional youth company of roughly 50 dancers.

“These three numbers were created by guest instructors Caroline ‘Lady C’ Fraser from Toronto, Alyssa Petrolo from Toronto, and Tony ‘Ynot’ DeNaro from Philadelphia back in November, and will eventually be part of our circus-themed production at our year-end show in May,” said Herdes.

Over the course of the evening, all of the students in The Heart of Riverdale’s developmental or repertory programs will be performing. This includes dancers and musicians. The age range of performers is five to 17. All train in different styles, ranging from classical ballet to breaking, and from fiddle to drums. 

“For our developmental programs, Go Nuts is one of the two big performances of the programming year. For our pre-professional students, Go Nuts is an opportunity to showcase their artistry by presenting dance pieces that they have had full creative control over from start to finish,” said Herdes. “Go Nuts is a great example of The Heart of Riverdale’s core values: advanced artistic skill, creativity, citizenship and self-confidence at work. Audiences will get to witness the truly impressive skills being developed by our young artists and students will get to share their creativity with their audiences by presenting the pieces they have been working on since September. During their creative processes, students have been practicing various skills that relate to citizenship, such as clear communication and teamwork and, last but not least, Go Nuts is an opportunity for the community to celebrate the successes of our students, which contributes to their self-confidence.”

Go Nuts shows at the Yukon Arts Centre on Jan. 23 and Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at These shows are a fundraiser for the Heart of Riverdale and all proceeds will go towards its programs and special events. 

Come prepared to dance

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