The Contemporary School of Dance's Dance Company, based in Waterloo, has been performing at the Guelph Dance Festival as part of the Youth Moves series for the past twenty years. Christine Parker-Reid, director and owner of the school, tells us a little bit about this journey and what it has meant to her students over the years.
CSD has been performing at the Guelph Dance Festival. What have you noticed about the company and how it has evolved and changed over the past 20 years?
It is hard to believe that we have performed in the Guelph Dance Festival for 20 years, but I do remember the very first year! Our Dance Company at the time was only 10 students and there was very limited performing opportunities available for this age group, especially non-competitive ones and in the field of modern dance.
At the time, we created many of our own performance experiences, so the opportunity to dance in an all youth contemporary performance at the Guelph Dance Festival was so special!
In the early years, our dancers were able to perform in both the Youth Moves series and the Site Specific series. It was, and continues to be, important for our dancers to see and appreciate other dancers of similar age who also study and train in contemporary or modern dance.
Our Dance Company now has 4 levels with 50 participants, so if our application is accepted, our most senior dancers get the opportunity to perform at the Youth Moves series. This is something that our younger dancers look forward to as they move up through the ranks!
Our Dance Company used to focus solely on contemporary dance, but now, our repertoire includes many dance genres, and approximately 15 performances per year, including performances with the K-W Chamber Orchestra, the K-W Symphony Orchestra, and many professional dancers and companies that have come to the K-W region.
As a long time participant in the Youth Moves Series what has this opportunity meant over the years for your students? What would you like to see as we move into the next 20 years of the Guelph Dance Festival?
Our dancers have been so fortunate to perform in the Youth Moves series for the past 20 years. It is so important for them to see many other dance groups of similar age studying contemporary dance from all over Ontario.
It has been wonderful for me to re-connect with some old dance friends from university days, and see the great work that is being done with young dancers across Canada. Our dancers have also been able to participate in some of the workshops and see some of the other performances on the main stage. The festival is an opportunity for them to perform in a professional festival but also to grow as dancers through the other experiences as well.
For those students who go on to pursue dance professionally, it offers them a great introduction to the types of dance festivals that are thriving in Ontario.
In the next 20 years, I would love to see more options for the young dancers to learn from experienced professionals through more workshops, dance talks, and perhaps even opportunities for choreography experiences with the professional dancers. It would be great if there could also be a way to showcase students’ choreography and perhaps get feedback from professionals in the field.
What is it that you love the most about performing in a contemporary dance festival?
I think the breadth of the work shown in the festival continues to amaze me year after year. Contemporary or modern dance is a big genre and encompasses so many styles within the field. The idea for a dance can arise from so many unique inspirations. The audiences’ interpretation of each dance is varied as well, and all of this is completely fine! All of it is accepted and appreciated in the nurturing environment of the festival. I think this is so important for young dancers to be a part so that they can have the confidence to explore their own creativity and learn to appreciate the complexity and variedness of dance even more.
This year the CSD Dance Company brings us Be the Change, choreographed by Georgina Rombough. For more info in the 2018 Youth Moves series visit https://www.guelphdance.ca/festival/2018-youth-moves/