Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Guelph Youth Dance Company at Dance Ontario’s DanceWeekend ‘13

On Friday, January 18, Guelph Dance's Janet Johnson brought the amazing young dancers from Guelph Youth Dance Company to Dance Ontario’s DanceWeekend ‘13, an annual showcase that brings dance artists from around Ontario to Toronto for a weekend of dance. This was the first year DanceWeekend featured youth dancers. Janet’s piece was exciting and complex and the dancers embodied the work beautifully. (Check out the short video embedded at the bottom!)
Guelph Youth Dance Company performing at Dance Ontario DanceWeekend '13. Photo: Karen Roberts.
Janet: In all honesty, I couldn't sleep the night before .... I was so excited to show the bright-eyed Guelph Youth Dance Company dancers a bit of the Toronto dance life I once inhabited (I spent 10 years dancing with all of my heart and soul in Toronto before moving to the Guelph area). I was so excited for them to have a rich day of dancing on a beautiful stage, with fantastic, highly professional stage technicians and to be honoured by the Dance Ontario directors and patrons (pretty much a full house of 400!).

Leading them down to the professional, swank dressing rooms and then to the magical warm-up studio felt like little gifts dropping at their feet. My memories of doing the same some 18 years previously.....

We have raised these awesome young dancers from the ground up to be open and interested in performing in lots of different environments (in studios, in parks, church basements, small Southern Ontario theatres). Of this I am proud, but I also feel it’s a realistic situation as dance (and most art forms) needs to constantly find ways to be accessible, innovative and new.

That being said......I felt the rush of bringing my work onto a stellar stage and being able to light the dancers with dramatic lighting, for them to hear the rush of the curtain and understand in a nano-second that the only approach to the day was a highly professional one. They rose right up to the occasion and conducted themselves with utter professionalism and discipline.  They also nailed my piece (a super-tricky piece with multiple ways of interpreting the ever-changing timing, negotiating at very fast speeds not only the choreography but the patterns entwining the 12 dancers), and filled their characters with power, passion, and rock steady commitment.

I thank Dance Ontario as well as the beautiful GYD Co. and their ever-supportive parents for this moment in time. And I can only hope that the GYD Co. dancers grew as artists and can periodically pull out and savour this heightened, crystallized moment.

If you want your child to experience dance, don’t miss Guelph Dance’s upcoming March Break Arts Explosion Camp, a fun-filled, pressure-free exploration of the arts. Renowned local and national artists encourage children from 4-13 in all art forms.
Monday, Mar 11 — Friday, Mar 15, 2013 at the River Run Centre

For more information on Guelph Youth Dance, click here.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Why We Support Dance

Sally Wismer shares her experience supporting dance—particularly Guelph Dance (Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival)—over the years. We want to thank her for everything she’s done for us—without supporters like Sally, we couldn't do what we do. Thanks, Sally!

Sally: Fifteen years!!!  What a significant milestone for Guelph Dance to be celebrating in 2013. Looking back to the organization’s launch as Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, I feel that it is truly amazing that so much has been accomplished over the past fifteen plus years.

In my then position as Executive Director of Guelph Arts Council, I was privileged to have been able to play a role in helping launch Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival in 1997-98.  I vividly recall my early meetings with co-founders Catrina von Radecki and Janet Johnson who at the time were very new to Guelph but were brimming with enthusiasm and determination.  They had a dream for a festival that would celebrate contemporary dance; that would give contemporary dance artists an opportunity to perform outside of major metropolitan areas; that would encourage local dance talent; and that would build and educate local audiences.

That Catrina and Janet, as co-artistic directors, along with their boards of directors, have managed to achieve all of these goals and much more over the last fifteen years is a remarkable testament to their vision and dedication, their professionalism and their organizational abilities!  In fact, their accomplishments have been so far-reaching that the organization has recently re-branded itself as Guelph Dance to reflect the wide range of activities that now come under the group’s umbrella.  And what an impressive list of activities that is: dance camps, dance in the schools, dance productions, dance training as well as the dance festival with its presentations by professional artists as well as emerging and youth artists – in theatres, in galleries, in parks and in the streets.  

How do I see the impact of Guelph Dance on the local community?  For me personally, it starts with the feeling that Guelph is a very special place.  Over the past forty plus years, I’ve watched the community develop into somewhat of a cultural mecca, drawing artists across a wide spectrum of disciplines to live and work here, and also attracting many visitors to enjoy the artistic offerings that have become Guelph trademarks. I have often said that it’s arts, culture and heritage that make Guelph Guelph!  So I view Guelph Dance as having adding one more important dimension to Guelph’s diversity of artistic offerings. I can’t think of another community the size of Guelph that, in 2013, has such a highly-developed and respected dance profile and that supports so much contemporary dance activity.  Add to that Guelph Dance’s reputation for innovation and “cutting-edge” creations, I have no hesitation in saying that Guelph Dance has changed the face of the arts in Guelph.

I hope that others in the Guelph community will join me in celebrating and supporting this fantastic organization as it marks its first fifteen years.  Like so many others in the not-for-profit sector, Guelph Dance relies heavily on community support, whether it’s through volunteer or financial contributions or through appreciative audiences or students throughout the year.  Let’s help make 2013 a banner year for dance in Guelph.    

Sally Wismer has lived in Guelph since 1964. She has been actively involved in the community ever since, especially in the arts, culture and heritage sector, first as a volunteer, then for close to 25 years as executive director of Guelph Arts Council.  During these years, she worked with dozens of organizations and project organizers to assist in the launch of new cultural activities. She also played a lead in establishing other ventures such as Guelph Tourism Services and Doors Open Guelph. Since retirement in 2010, Sally has continued her involvement in many local cultural endeavours, and has joined the City of Guelph Cultural Advisory Committee as well as the Public Art Committee (sub-committee of the CAC). She remains a fan of and strong believer in Guelph Dance. 

Thursday, 10 January 2013

A Great Start to 2013!

Thank you to everyone who joined us to ring in 2013 at Guelph Dance's first New Year’s Eve Fundraiser and Party! Reminisce with us as we look back at the evening.

After skating at City Hall’s enchanted Market Square rink, it was nice to come in from the cold and see so many friendly, familiar faces! The 1st floor was decked out with lights, music, hors d’oeuvres, and lots of energy. The 10 Carden space was transformed into a getaway space of silver and black. Only with Guelph Dance will you find an event that is equal parts classy and funky!

By 9:30pm, the dance floor was rockin’ with Guelph’s own The Royal Family, featuring Joni NehRita, Rufus John, Attila Toth, and Adam Bowman. With hits from Stevie Wonder to Michael Jackson, they knew how to get the crowd going! Luckily there was refreshing beer, nice wine, and even the signature Guelph Dance Drink available at the bar when the dancers needed a break.

There were kids of all ages taking advantage of the photo booth as an excuse to dress up and be silly! The full photo shoot is available on our flickr site. The kids had a blast going from the skating rink to the movie room to the photo booth and back again. They even had their own hot chocolate mugs and old-fashioned popcorn bags to bring with them throughout the night. 

It was heartwarming to see the reflections and resolutions that our guests, friends, and volunteers shared graffiti-style in the 3rd floor lounge. Though we all faced challenges in 2012, there seems to be an overwhelming sense of hope for the year ahead. 

Everyone gathered on the 1st floor for the countdown to 2013, led by the band. Champagne, ginger-ale, and noisemakers were handed out for all to enjoy. Catrina von Radecki, Co-Artistic Director of Guelph Dance, said a few words of thanks, but the noise-making had already begun! So the lesson was learned: never give out noisemakers and expect that they will only be used at midnight! After a very festive moment at midnight, the band launched into a classic—Celebration by Kool and the Gang—which was the perfect anthem with which to start 2013!

We would like to thank the Guelph community for helping us celebrate a wonderful 15 years and the launch of our new name, Guelph Dance. We wish all the best to our readers for 2013!

Many thanks to some very important contributors, without whom the event would not have been possible:
10 Carden
Wellington Country Brewery 
The Royal Family: Joni NehRita, Rufus John, Attila Toth, and Adam Bowman
The Fundraising Committee: Kim Bolton, Shannon Rushe, Irina Olivares, Andrea LaMarre, Janet Johnson, and Lindsay Morris