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Interviews, essays and commentary published by The Dance Current.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


playing in space | espace de jeu
Photos by/de Peter Eastwood and/et Chris Randle
Interview by/de Megan Andrews

“It is the role of the interpreter that deeply resonates with me and where I focus my attention. I’m continually working on my body and my technical abilities while also looking outside those boundaries into what other aspects of my life I can draw upon to make something work – to make it real – so that if someone asks me to try something, I can be physically healthy, available and open to taking emotional risks.
“My interest is in working with many different artists. The contrasts in movement vocabulary, creative processes and artistic sensibilities keep me curious and challenged. Some come naturally and some feel uncomfortable, but they’re all engaging. With every new project there’s an opportunity to see where else I can go as a dancer.
“Being a dancer is a powerful position and I am most fulfilled when there’s a sense that my artistry and a choreographer’s vision have met.”
– Alison Denham

« C’est le rôle de l’interprète qui a le plus de résonance pour moi et sur lequel je concentre mon énergie. Je travaille mon corps et ma capacité technique continuellement, tout en me tournant au-delà de ces frontières, vers d’autres aspects de ma vie qui peuvent être des sources pour créer quelque chose qui marche, qui est vrai. Ainsi, si quelqu’un me demande de faire quelque chose, je peux être saine physiquement et capable de prendre des risques sensibles.
« Travailler avec plusieurs artistes m’intéresse. Les contrastes de gestuelle, de processus de création et de sensibilité artistique piquent ma curiosité et me mettent au défi. Parfois, les propositions en studio me viennent naturellement, parfois elles sont inconfortables, mais toujours, elles sont intéressantes. Avec chaque nouveau projet, il y a une occasion de découvrir une autre facette de mon travail d’interprète.
« L’interprète à un rôle de pouvoir et mon sentiment d’accomplissement est à son comble lorsque mon travail d’artiste et la vision du chorégraphe se rejoignent. »
– Alison Denham

Originally from the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, Alison Denham moved to Vancouver to attend the dance program at Arts Umbrella and the Ballet British Columbia Mentor Program. From 2000 through 2005 she danced with Toronto’s Dancemakers under the artistic direction of Serge Bennathan. Ali has worked with many choreographers in Toronto and Vancouver including Wen Wei Wang, Alvin Erasga Tolentino, Lola MacLaughlin and Peggy Baker, among others. She is the 2006 recipient of the Isadora Award for Excellence in Performance. Ali is currently involved in new creations with Out Innerspace Dance Theatre (Tiffany Tregarthen and David Raymond), Simone Orlando, The Plastic Orchid Factory (James Gnam), and Tribal Crackling Wind (Peter Chin).

Native de la Sunshine Coast en Colombie-Britannique, Alison Denham se rend à Vancouver pour participer au programme de danse de Arts Umbrella et au programme de stagiaire de Ballet British Columbia. De 2000 à 2005, elle danse au sein de Dancemakers sous la direction artistique de Serge Bennathan. Ali travaille avec de nombreux chorégraphes à Toronto et à Vancouver y compris Wen Wei Wang, Alvin Erasga Tolentino, Lola MacLaughlin et Peggy Baker. En 2006, elle est lauréate du prix Isadora pour l’excellence en arts de la scène. Actuellement, elle participe à de nouvelles créations avec Out Innerspace Dance Theatre (Tiffany Tregarthen et David Raymond), Simone Orlando, The Plastic Orchid Factory (James Gnam), et Tribal Crackling Wind (Peter Chin).

In your artistic statement you say that, “Being a dancer is a powerful position”. I think of so many stories about the opposite situation, in which a dancer is at the beck and call of the choreographer, with no voice whatsoever. How do you experience power as a dancer?

What I find powerful is that dancers are the representatives of the work. There’s this responsibility to the choreographer’s vision, which, depending on the chemistry between individuals, can sometimes be a difficult process. I think dancers are such an important aspect of the work and, in my opinion, often get the least amount of respect. If you stripped away the elements of performance – lighting, costumes, sound, set, etc. – you’d be left with the work that the choreographer and the dancers have done together. I think both entities deserve an equal amount of credit for bringing the choreography to life.

As a performer, one spends most of one’s time in rehearsal and very little time overall actually performing. Therefore, it’s important to really enjoy creative process. What do you find most engaging and rewarding about being in the studio with a choreographer? What works for you and what doesn’t?

In creative process, I am up for anything if I can feel that the choreographer is honestly exploring something. I appreciate people who are serious about their work but have a sense of humour and communicate openly with dancers as to what they are trying to do. Then there’s a sense that altogether we know where we are trying to go and can accept failure in the process. I have been involved in work that asks for an extreme amount of technical detail and I enjoy the daily attempts to master these tasks. I also find a lot of freedom in structured improvisation or being asked to create my own movement within a context. Partly why I am drawn to working with different people are these differences in process. I won’t deny that there are days when I feel resistant to what I am asked to do. Too much of one way of working can drain me, but I am determined to keep that to myself and tackle whatever is asked of me. Some days I just feel creatively empty and would rather be told what to do. Other days I am brimming with energy and want to create movement and experiment. My favorite thing about dance is that I am an adult who gets to play on a regular basis with a bunch of fun people in a big open space. I couldn’t ask for a better job.

In your artistic statement, you note that you’re always working on your body. Obviously there’s the overall need to stay fit and healthy. I’m curious to understand a little more specifically what you are working on. Can you elaborate on your approach to training?

I see training as a chance to work on the relationship between engagement and release, as a tool for dynamics in my quality and for longevity in my career. I spent many years working with pure force and I am realizing that this is one-dimensional and can’t be sustained. I find Pilates is pivotal in balancing my structural differences and for strength and stabilization. I am working on being aware of my entire body at all times, so I can avoid injury and approach the demands on my body in a healthy and efficient way. As I get older, I am definitely noticing the wear and tear from dancing. I approach movement from more of a relaxed place than I did ten years ago. I try to use just the right amount of energy for each movement, giving everything the value that it needs to work. I feel this gives me more dimension – choosing when to push the energy and when to pull it back.

Related to staying healthy, nutrition is a key element. What choices do you make in general to ensure that your body is getting what it needs to replenish from the demands of daily intense physical exertion?

I drink a lot of water. I am convinced that dehydration causes many problems emotionally and physically.

Artists often talk about “openness”. You note that you aim to be “available and open to taking risks”. I think this ability to be open is required both in rehearsal and in performance, though perhaps it’s slightly different in each context. Can you describe what this state feels like for you? How do you cultivate this state in your body/self?

The openness I strive for in rehearsal is this feeling that the work is beyond the individuals. It’s something bigger and needs space to figure itself out. Resistance doesn’t facilitate progress so I try to be non-judgmental of myself, the choreographers and the other dancers, to be willing to try whatever is asked of me with curiosity even when my inner critic might rear its head. I will voice my opinion when asked or when I strongly feel it’s necessary. Generally, when there’s tension or doubt in the room, I try even harder to be positive.

You’ve worked with numerous choreographers, many of whom make very technical work, Serge Bennathan and Wen Wei Wang, for example. For some, including these two, the emotional investment required is as important and challenging. Have you ever been asked to do something you weren’t sure you could? What was it and how did you approach the situation?

I’ve never been asked to do something that I wouldn’t at least try. There’ve been times when I could feel my technical ability wasn’t proficient enough for certain tasks but I would keep trying ‘til I got it or the choreographer changed it to work better for me. The first time I was asked to perform nude, I hesitated. That was a whole lot of exposing myself. I decided I wanted to do it though because I wanted to be okay about my body. To prepare myself, I started being a model for life drawing classes and I got over my shyness pretty quickly. In my first year with Dancemakers, Serge Bennathan was creating The Satie Project. One day he started making a solo for me and then he put it at the beginning of the piece. I felt this intense pressure as the youngest dancer in the company to open the show. I felt anxious and nervous about it up until opening night at the Canada Dance Festival. I actually felt like I might throw up backstage at the five-minute call. I collected myself and realized that it was an honour to do my solo at the top of the show and it was my chance to step up as a dancer.

While some dance works involve narrative and character or character-like figures, much contemporary dance is abstracted from such conventions. As a performer in story- or character-based work, one can draw from the plot or persona to fulfill the movement expression and bring it to life. As a performer in more abstract work, it is still essential to anchor the movement itself within a deeply embodied “world” – to “make it real” as you say in your artistic statement. Inside an abstract work – how do you develop this motivational through-line, if we can call it that, for yourself?

It depends on how much information the choreographer has given me about intent and context. I will ask questions related to motivation if I am struggling, but generally I just make it up for myself. Sometimes it’s purely kinetic: reactions to how the movement feels, the dynamics between the other performers onstage, the mood of the lighting and the music. Other times I relate things to my own life, create stories, scenarios and characters. I trust the choreographer to redirect me if they notice something I’m doing isn’t working for them. I had a big imagination as a child so I have no problem making worlds up for myself.

While performing, what filters through your awareness? Are you focussed on bodily sensations, physical/technical elements, etc.? How aware are you of the audience when you’re performing and how does their presence register for you?

I definitely notice the audience when I’m performing. It almost feels like a type of radiating heat coming off them. I am aware that they are witnessing as I try to stay focussed on the work. I concentrate on keeping my mind clear of excess thoughts. I focus on bodily sensation, my inner dialogue and interaction with the other dancers to keep myself from wondering who’s in the audience or self-judging what I’m doing in the moment. Some shows are magically integrated and I feel like I transcend being human. Other shows aren’t as successful and I go in and out of being caught in my head.

Have you ever fallen, wiped out, tripped or otherwise “changed” the choreography accidentally in performance? How did you recover?

Onstage at the Premiere Dance Theatre in Toronto performing Wen Wei Wang’s Unbound, I was running in a big circle around the stage when I slipped on sweat and went hurtling forward. I somehow rolled right out of it and kept running without breaking the flow. My heart was pounding in my chest and as I kept dancing I remember thinking, “Am I hurt?” , but I couldn’t register all the details of my body because I was so charged.

How would you describe the feeling of your most rewarding performing experience?

There have been many rewarding performances. There was something so incredible about the ensemble energy of every performance with Dancemakers. We were so connected and so well rehearsed. Performing Lola MacLaughlin’s Provincial Essays in Toronto the same day that she passed away was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had. It was such an honour to dance her work on that day and be able to grieve her in that way.

You note that it’s the role of the interpreter that resonates for you as an artist; yet, you have begun to choreograph as well lately. What have you discovered in your experience making work that informs your process as a performer? How different is it for you to perform your own work versus that of others?

I would much rather choreograph on other people. I don’t like the all-encompassing responsibility of dancing my own work. I love working with dancers, drawing things out of them, being inspired by them. I see my choreography and my dancing as very separate crafts. Strangely enough, I feel more freedom as an interpreter in other people’s work than in my own.
Do you see yourself further developing your choreographic voice in the future, to the point where you may transition more into choreography than performance?

I will definitely continue to explore choreography but at this point I don’t have aspirations to fully engage in it. Images and ideas drop into my head and then I feel like I need to make a piece. Choreography is a whole other world for me and I don’t know if it will ever have a hold over me the same way that dancing does. Things shift and change though, so we’ll see what unfolds.

Alison Denham performs Firebird by Simone Orlando and the Turning Point Ensemble from March 2nd through 5th at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, Vancouver. | Alison Denham, présenteFirebird de Simone Orlando et Turning Point Ensemble du 2 au 5 mars au Vancouver East Cultural Centre, Vancouver.

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Feature: The Benefit of Striving

Kids’ Health and Dance
Summary Sommaire

Out and About (2007) by Robert Glumbeck for Canadian Children's Dance Theatre (2008) / Photo by David Hou

Humans are born striving – nobody works harder than a baby, learning to rock, flip, crawl, stand and walk. Very soon after that instinctive push to mobilize, children need sustained guidance in healthy levels of activity, which are developmentally imperative, and eventually enable them to make long-term choices about health and fitness...

L’humain s’efforce dès la naissance ; nul ne travaille plus fort que le bébé qui apprend à se bercer, à basculer, à ramper, à se tenir debout et à marcher. Très vite après cet élan instinctif de mobilisation, l’enfant a besoin de conseils soutenus pour maintenir un sain niveau d’activité physique, impératif à son développement, et lui permettre éventuellement de prendre sa santé et sa forme en charge...

Humans are born striving – nobody works harder than a baby, learning to rock, flip, crawl, stand and walk. Very soon after that instinctive push to mobilize, children need sustained guidance in healthy levels of activity, which are developmentally imperative, and eventually enable them to make long-term choices about health and fitness. A discussion of such issues ranges today through fields from education to social justice, because Canadian children’s health is at serious risk. Video games, television, the Internet, social networks, all are ubiquitous – and sedentary. Inactivity, and the prevalence of high-fat snacks and prepared food contribute to childhood obesity, an issue that is rapidly escalating in Canada. Statistics included here reveal the scope of the problem. While the physical and artistic benefits of dance are not simply interchangeable with “fitness”, imparting children with a sense of well being, within a framework that promotes healthy choices over the long term, seems vital in our computer- and media-dominated culture – and dance offers this potential. The term “physical literacy” has importance as a way of newly classifying the benefits of physical education and sports, and it is now endorsed and promoted in Canada as a desired outcome of physical education. Certainly the concept of embodied intelligence philosophically aligns with the experience and underlying values of dancing. In this article, several teachers and directors of young dancers share some thoughts about the benefits and values of dance, in its essence and in the bigger picture.

L’humain s’efforce dès la naissance ; nul ne travaille plus fort que le bébé qui apprend à se bercer, à basculer, à ramper, à se tenir debout et à marcher. Très vite après cet élan instinctif de mobilisation, l’enfant a besoin de conseils soutenus pour maintenir un sain niveau d’activité physique, impératif à son développement, et lui permettre éventuellement de prendre sa santé et sa forme en charge. Étant donné que la santé des enfants canadiens est très à risque, une discussion sur ces questions recoupe plusieurs domaines, de l’éducation à la justice sociale. Les jeux vidéo, la télévision, Internet, les réseaux sociaux sont omniprésents – et sédentaires. L’inactivité, et la prévalence de collations à haute teneur en gras et d’aliments préparés contribuent à l’obésité des enfants, un problème qui s’amplifie rapidement au Canada. Les statistiques publiées ici révèlent la portée du problème. Les bienfaits physique et artistique de la danse ne sont pas simplement interchangeables avec la question de la santé et de la forme physique. Néanmoins, transmettre à l’enfant un sentiment de bien-être dans un cadre qui promeut des choix sains à long terme semble essentiel dans notre culture dominée par l’écran ; la danse offre ce potentiel. Le terme « savoir-faire physique » devient important comme moyen de catégoriser les bienfaits de l’éducation et des sports, et est maintenant appuyé au Canada comme le but de l’éducation physique. Nul doute, le concept d’intelligence incarnée s’aligne philosophiquement avec l’expérience et les valeurs sous-tendues en danse. Dans ce numéro, plusieurs enseignants et directeurs de compagnies de jeunes danseurs proposent leurs réflexions sur les bienfaits et les valeurs de la danse, autant à son essence que dans un cadre élargi.

Learn more >>
Gladwell, Malcolm. Outliers: The Story of Success. (2008, Little, Brown & Company.)

Active Healthy Kids Canada

Canadian Council of Food and Nutrition Conseil canadien des aliments et de la nutrition

National Dance Education Organization, USA

Eat Right Ontario

Physical and Health Education Canada/Canadian Association for Physical Health, Education, Recreation and Dance

Physical Literacy

Right To Play Canada

Shields, Margot. “Measured Obesity: Overweight Canadian Children and Adolescents.” (Statistics Canada – Cat. No. 82-620-MWE (2004).)
Originally available at www.statscan.gc.ca.

“Healthy active living for children and youth.” (Healthy Active Living Committee, Canadian Paediatric Society.)

Tremblay, Mark S., Margot Shields, Manon Laviolette, Cora L. Craig, Ian Janssen and Sarah Connor Gorber. “Fitness of Canadian Children and Youth: Results from the 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey”. (Publication: Health Reports 2010: 21(1).)
Originally available at www.statscan.gc.ca/healthreports

Mandigo, Dr. James. “Time to Move – Keep the Physical in Education, An Advocacy Resource Developed for Physical and Health Education Canada.” (Brock University Centre for Healthy Development.)

Read the full article by Carol Anderson in the December 2010/January 2011 issue of The Dance Current print magazine. Lisez l'article intégral de Carol Anderson dans l’édition imprimée de décembre 2010/janvier 2011 du Dance Current.

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Ofilio and Apolonia: A High-Octane Partnership

Boom, pop, boom, ba da boom pop pow!
Summary | Sommaire

Ofilio Portillo and Apolonia Velasquez / Photo by Jesse Milns

“We’d like to have people go see street dance the same way they would go see a ballet or Cirque du Soleil.” Ofilio Portillo and Apolonia Velasquez are commercially successful performers and advocates for the street dance styles they love...

« On aimerait que les gens aillent voir la danse de rue de la même façon dont ils iraient voir un ballet ou le Cirque du Soleil. » Ofilio Portillo et Apolonia Velasquez sont des interprètes qui connaissent un succès commercial et des partisans des styles de danse de rues qu’ils adorent...

“We’d like to have people go see street dance the same way they would go see a ballet or Cirque du Soleil.” Ofilio Portillo and Apolonia Velasquez are commercially successful performers and advocates for the street dance styles they love. Originally from Montréal, they’ve only been in Toronto for a few years but the couple is making their mark on a number of fronts. You’ve probably seen one or the other, maybe on television for So You Think You Can Dance Canada or in music videos for Shawn Desman and Jully Black. Or in commercials for Nike or Virgin Mobile. In addition to living, teaching and breathing street dance, they are committed choreographers and community builders. Working individually, together and with an ad hoc group of talents that periodically come together as Gadfly, Portillo and Velasquez are integrating street dance within the established Toronto community, hosting showcase events such as the recent day-long Toronto Urban Dance Symposium, which took the pulse of street dance as industry and shared that info with everyone who cared to show up. They were commissioned to create a work for Dance Ontario’s Dance Weekend at the Fleck Theatre upcoming on January 22nd and 23rd, 2011, and they are working on a new multi-media creation for later in spring 2011.

« On aimerait que les gens aillent voir la danse de rue de la même façon dont ils iraient voir un ballet ou le Cirque du Soleil. » Ofilio Portillo et Apolonia Velasquez sont des interprètes qui connaissent un succès commercial et des partisans des styles de danse de rues qu’ils adorent. Originaires de Montréal, ils sont à Toronto depuis seulement quelques années. Néanmoins, le couple fait sa marque à plusieurs endroits. Vous avez probablement vu l’un ou l’autre, peut-être à la télévision pour So You Think You Can Dance Canada ou dans un vidéoclip de Shawn Desman et Jully Black. Ou dans des annonces pour Nike ou Virgin Mobile. En plus de vivre, d’enseigner et de respirer la danse de rue, ils sont des chorégraphes et des organisateurs communautaires engagés. Travaillant seul, ensemble ou avec un groupe de talents ad hoc qui se réunit périodiquement sous le nom Gadfly, Portillo et Velasquez intègrent la danse de rue au sein de la communauté existante à Toronto. Ils tiennent des événements-vitrines comme le récent Toronto Urban Dance Symposium. Ce colloque d’un jour prenait le pouls de la danse de rue comme industrie et proposait cette information à ceux qui voulaient bien s’y présenter. Dance Ontario leur commande une pièce pour la Dance Weekend au théâtre Fleck pour les 22 et 23 janvier 2011, et ils travaillent à une nouvelle création multimédia pour le printemps 2011.

Learn more | Pour en savoir plus >>

Ofilio Portillo and Apolonia Velasquez perform at Dance Ontario’s Dance Weekend on January 21st through 23rd at Harbourfront’s Fleck Dance Theatre, Toronto.

Read the full article by Kathleen M. Smith in the December 2010/January 2011 issue of The Dance Current print magazine. | Lisez l'article intégral de Kathleen M. Smith dans l’édition imprimée de décembre 2010/janvier 2011 du Dance Current.

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Enseignement : recherche et préparation
De Katharine Harris de l’École nationale de ballet du Canada
Traduction de Marie Claire Forté

Aujourd’hui, il y a de fortes chances que le professeur de danse compose avec plusieurs charges de cours, parfois à plusieurs studios de danse. Ajoutez à cela les exigences quotidiennes de la vie et il peut être un défi de planifier du temps pour réviser votre plan de cours, et encore d’évaluer et de développer votre approche pédagogique. Les bénéfices d’une réflexion sur votre métier sont pourtant inestimables, et pour vous, et pour vos élèves.

Comme professeur de danse, vous devez maîtriser deux domaines très différents : la danse et l’enseignement. Si la formation, les connaissances et l’entraînement soutenu nécessaires à une bonne technique de danse vont de soi, nombreux sont les professeurs de danse qui ne sont pas capables de se consacrer autant à la pédagogie. L’enseignement fait appel à l’intégration compréhensive de plusieurs habiletés : le leadership, une compréhension de la psychologie, des connaissances en neurologie et en développement, une conscience des différents modes d’apprentissage et la capacité d’employer une variété de stratégies pédagogiques. Plutôt que de trouver ces exigences accablantes, le professeur de danse doit se rendre compte qu’il y a une richesse de ressources pour le développement de ses compétences en enseignement. Voici quelques approches à considérer.

1 : Lorsque vous cherchez de l’information sur l’enseignement, trouvez un expert dans votre région. Le département d’enseignement d’une université et les professeurs d’expériences peuvent être d’excellentes ressources. Si vous êtes plus autonome, la section de pédagogie dans une librairie peut aussi offrir des pistes. D’autres options comptent les magazines et sites Web axés sur les enseignants et propriétaires de studio de danse. Il y a aussi Teachers TV (www.teachers.tv), qui se penche sur l’enseignement en général et propose de l’information utile sur la gestion de classe, la méthodologie de l’enseignement et la planification de cours.

2 : Lorsque vous vous penchez sur votre plan de cours et votre approche pédagogique, soyez curieux et cherchez au-delà du milieu de la danse. Lisez des articles sur les tendances en enseignement ; vous pourriez y trouver des informations utiles. Ciblez votre recherche Internet sur votre rôle comme professeur plutôt que de la limiter à la danse ou aux arts. Les mondes des affaires, du sport et de la science génèrent de la recherche et des écrits de qualités sur la méthodologie de l’enseignement. Comme professeur, vous travaillez avec différentes personnes qui apprennent de différentes façons. Toute information qui porte sur l’enseignement et le processus d’apprentissage est pertinente. À plus petite échelle, soyez à l’affût d’approches intéressantes à l’enseignement et à l’apprentissage. Si vous avez un passe-temps, si vous prenez des classes ou si faites un sport d’équipe, pensez aux techniques d’enseignement dans ces champs et à leur application potentielle à votre pratique.

3 : Pour une approche plus personnelle, tenez un journal d’enseignement. Notez quelques lignes après vos classes. Si vous avez intégré quelque chose de nouveau, comment les élèves ont-ils réagi ? Si vous avez gardé votre approche traditionnelle, avez-vous observé la réaction des élèves ? Un professeur occupé se trouve facilement à enseigner par habitude plutôt que par intention. Prendre des notes est un bon moyen de maintenir une réflexion sur votre pratique et de conserver la vitalité de votre approche. Un plan de cours bien pensé est excellent, mais il est également important de pouvoir s’adapter et d’essayer de nouvelles choses dans vos classes. Les notes quotidiennes servent aussi lorsque vous faites un retour sur votre travail à la fin de l’année.

Teaching Preparation and Research
By Katharine Harris of Canada’s National Ballet School
Translation by/Traduction de Marie Claire Forté

Dance teachers today are all too likely to balance multiple teaching jobs, sometimes at multiple dance studios. Add in the daily demands of everyday life and it can be a challenge to schedule time to review your lesson plan let alone assess and develop your approach to a class. But the benefits reaped from reflecting, both for you and your students, are invaluable.

As a dance teacher, one must have two very different skill sets: dancing and teaching. While the training, knowledge and maintenance required for proper dance technique is unquestionable, many dance teachers aren’t able to dedicate the same time and study to their teaching practice. Teaching involves blending many abilities into one comprehensive package: leadership, psychological understanding, neurological and developmental knowledge, awareness of students’ different learning modes, and facility with a variety of pedagogical strategies. Rather than be overwhelmed by this, dance teachers should realize there are great resources out there to assist them in developing and strengthening these abilities. Here are a few approaches to consider.

1: When looking for information on how to teach, consider finding a local expert. Departments of education at universities can be great resources, as can experienced dance teachers. If you’re more self-reliant, the education section in bookstores can be informative. Other resources include dance magazines and websites geared toward teachers and studio owners. There’s also Teachers TV (www.teachers.tv), which focusses on education in general and has lots of helpful information on class management, teaching methodology and approaches to lesson planning.

2: When assessing your lesson plan and approach to teaching, be curious and look beyond the dance world. Read articles about trends in education. You may come across helpful pedagogical information this way. Focus an internet search on your role as a teacher rather than restricting it to the dance or arts field. The worlds of business, sports and science generate great research and writing on teaching methodology. As a teacher you work with different people who learn things in different ways, so all information about the teaching and learning process is helpful. On a smaller scale, be on the lookout for interesting approaches to teaching and learning. If you have a hobby, take classes or play on a sports team, think about what teaching techniques those fields rely on and how you can translate them to your own practice.

3: For a more personal review of your teaching methodology, try keeping a teaching journal. Jot down a few notes after your classes. If you incorporated something new, how did your students react? If you went with your traditional approach, did you notice how it impacted the students? When you’re a busy teacher, it’s easy to find yourself teaching a class out of habit rather than thought. Taking notes is a good way to stay reflective and to keep your approach fresh. Having a well thought out lesson plan is great, but it’s equally important to be able to adapt and try something new in your classes.
Daily notes can also be a great tool when you’re reviewing your work at year end.

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HEALTHY DANCER: Ingredients for the Ultimate Snack

By Nathan Payne

At any point, you could be caught in the middle of the day, hungry and desperate for a snack. Before that happens, stock a handful of staple ingredients and build an arsenal of energy-dense snacks that are ready to go when you are.

To incorporate flavour and nutrition, purchase the following ingredients: dried fruit, nuts and seeds, gluten-free flours, natural sweeteners and spices. By combining a few staple ingredients, you can tailor the nutritional makeup of your snack for the ultimate energy boost, whenever and wherever you need it.

Recipe created by Chef Matthew Kennedy


4 cups thick cut rolled oats
1 cup coconut
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup flax seeds
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2/3 cup sunflower seeds
2/3 cup pumpkin seeds
2/3 cup sultana raisins
2/3 cup dates - diced
2/3 cup cranberries
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
2 tbsp honey


•Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
•Combine oats, coconut, wheat germ, flax seeds, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds in a large stainless steel bowl.
•Combine raisins, dates, cranberries, apple juice and honey in a medium stainless steel pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and simmer until mixture becomes thick and syrupy, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat.
•Carefully mix hot fruit mixture into dry ingredients until evenly distributed. Spread out on an oven-safe baking sheet and place in the oven for 10 minutes.
•Remove from oven and carefully mix, paying close attention to the corners as they will cook faster. Return mixture to the oven for 5 minute intervals until mixture is golden brown.
•Remove from oven and cool.
•Store in an airtight container for up to 6 weeks at room temperature.

Matthew KennedyAfter graduating with honours from the New England Culinary Institute, Matt Kennedy moved to France to work in the some of the finest restaurants in Paris, Chambery and Val D’Isere. There he learned and cultivated a true appreciation for local, seasonal cuisine in a sustainable environment, best explained by the French term “Terroir”. Upon his return to Toronto, Matt joined the team at North 44 restaurant and participated in the hit reality Food Network show, Heat with Mark McEwan. Matt is currently the Chef/Owner of a boutique catering company called Kennedy Catering.

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