Renewal and a fecund attitude comes with spring and with it a reflection of our winter adventures.

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Participants at Propeller Dance at MoMo Teacher-training Workshop

Propeller Dance once again, has achieved yet another ‘first-in-Canada’ with leading a Canadian-led Integrated Dance Intensive this past February in Calgary. We were invited by Pam Boyd, Artistic Director of Calgary’s MoMo Dance Theatre, to lead a week-long course that brought together close to 25 dancers, teachers, and academics from across the country. Pam has been instrumental in bringing together the Integrated Dance community over the years and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to work with her, as well as Naomi Brand of All Bodies Dance in Vancouver on this week-long course.

To have the opportunity to put our fifteen years of knowledge and experience in the field of integrated dance to work was one that we could not pass up. Through “open source” training methodology, inspired from a variety of dance techniques and somatic practices, the program is highly effective in teaching dance to inclusive groups of people of all abilities and diversities.

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Participants at Propeller Dance at MoMo Teacher-training Workshop

Sharing this experience and learning was a key goal of the workshop. We were excited to have an opportunity to finally start documenting much of the work that we’ve been developing and teaching to our community and dancers in the National Capital Region and share it with a much wider group. By gathering artists and dance educators from across the country, and by offering basic concepts and teaching tools in integrated dance, they would now have the opportunity to add this new methodology to their own teaching practice. This included articulating a specific style and methodology that we had been developing over many years, including deep listening and moving the quality of the work deeper through polite and supportive practices.

Propeller's Genevieve Beaulieu, Shara Weaver, Renata Soutter, and Sylvain Bouchard

The crew from Propeller: Geneviève Beaulieu, Shara Weaver, Renata Soutter, and Sylvain Bouchard

Moving forward from this experience, we now need to support and build the development and flourishing of Integrated Dance in Canada. This includes, training more artists and teachers in the rigour and methodology of this work to enable this unique art form to thrive. We also need to support artists with disability in becoming leaders, and through this course, we really continued this essential work. Dancer Sylvain Bouchard from Propeller Dance took his first flight of his life to come out to take the course (thanks for support from Canada Council for the Arts). Sylvain is now practice teaching in our recreational training program and we hope he will be a member of our lead teaching team for a future francophone program.

This experience was both uplifting and stimulating, helping to set people well on their path of becoming skilled teachers in integrated dance and our plan is to enable to teach a Phase II to further their training, or offer a similar course in Eastern Canada. For now, our hope is that people have the confidence and more in their teaching toolkits to co-teach or teach dance that is inclusive of people from diverse backgrounds and abilities. Propeller Dance continues to lead education in integrated dance in Canada, and through extensive training and practice, we are mentoring artists with disability (and without) to become teachers of this dance practice that changes lives!

Until next time,
Renata Soutter
Co-Artistic Director, Choreographer, Lead Teacher
Propeller Dance