DanceNL hopes to get people moving

Tara Bradbury
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International Dance Day features variety of events

“Dance Week 2014,” reads a media release from DanceNL. “Date: April 28 to May 4. Location: Everywhere, NL.” In celebration of International Dance Day today, the province’s dance association is hosting a series of hands-on (or feet-on) events, workshops and performances, to get people inspired to move.


International Dance Day, created by UNESCO and celebrated each April 29, is meant to increase awareness, support and participation in dance, and to persuade governments around the world to include dance in education systems. Those are also the goals of DanceNL, which is hosting Dance Week events for the fourth year in a row.

“One of the things we feel is important is making sure dance is included as part of the physical activity curriculum. We’re starting to move away from the idea that physical activity is only sport,” explained Lori Savory, DanceNL member, bellydancer and co-owner of Wild Lily dance studio in St. John’s. “I think there’s a real appetite for broadening the concept, because not everybody is athletic.”

The dance community in this province is huge, Savory said, and includes, along with well-known dance forms like ballet or tap, multicultural dance groups and groups like Lindyhop on the Rock, bringing retro dance styles back.

“I think we’re naturally dancers, starting in the kitchen parties,” Savory said of Newfoundlanders. “I think we have a natural affinity for dance, and I don’t think people have any reluctance to enrol their kids in classes. People are often surprised, though, when they realize that we have a large bellydance community, we have a flamenco community, we have a Bollywood community, of people who are doing these styles.”

One of Savory’s favourite activities happening over the next week is the “May We Have This Dance?” fair, a family-friendly event happening at Gower Street United Church on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In addition to booths with information on local schools and organizations, there will be a series of 50-minute dance workshops, designed for adults and children to participate in together, including hula hooping, highland dance, Bollywood, Scottish country dancing and the Shim Sham, a tap-line dance originating in the 1930s. The cost is $5 per workshop, or $20 for the whole day.

Also on Saturday, Neighbourhood Dance works is presenting “First Look,” a peek at five new choreographic works-in-progress by Louise Moyes, Calla Lachance, Natalie Hobbs, Lisa Porter and Lynn Panting. Admission is $10 (free with a full-day pass from the “May We Have This Dance?” workshops), and the event starts at 7:30 in the third floor studio of the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre.

Other events happening for Dance Week include Folk Dance Night at the Ship Wednesday night, featuring folk dances from Latin countries, including salsa, tango and flamenco; a dance photography workshop at MUN on Sunday with Scott Campbell; and a liquefied movement workshop with Vanessa Elizabeth at the Lesley Oake School of Dance in Grand Falls-Windsor Saturday evening.

DanceNL has also teamed up with CBC Radio One to ask, what’s the most danceable song you know by a Newfoundland and Labrador artist? People can nominate a song by calling CBC’s “On the Go” at 1-800-465-6846 or emailing

A full schedule of Dance Week events can be found online at

“The purpose of Dance Week is really to bring dance to the public’s attention as something that’s important for physical and mental health,” Savory said. “It’s something that is part of everyday life, not just something that’s onstage or that somebody else does. Dance is, whether you’re a child or an adult or a family, expressing yourself and having fun and being physically active. It’s not just one or two things, it’s a whole bunch of things.”; Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Organizations: UNESCO, Gower Street United Church, CBC Radio Lesley Oake School of Dance

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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