Purpose and PhilosphyAs dance instructors, we believe it is our purpose to:
- make dance and partner dancing more accessible to all people
- build stronger communities through dance
- help others achieve greater freedom through movement
These goals are currently achieved through our various classes in Vancouver, including a free ballroom dance class for adults over 65, workshops for students at SFU, and our own group and private lessons in our home studio and downtown.
Eventually we would like to create a dance event that brings together like-minded dancers of all ages and backgrounds in a space where all styles of dance are welcome.
Making Dance More Accessible
Teaching and Learning Styles
The main issue in accessibility is the approach that most dance teachers take in their classes. Almost universally, partner dancing and other forms of dance are taught on the basis of patterns that must be learned, remembered, and repeated. For any member of the population who lacks the ability to quickly learn and remember sequences, such classes are a challenging and incredibly frustrating endeavor. Also, for anyone who has ideas that don't fit into a pattern, these classes feel overly restrictive. The misleading concept of a "wrong way" and a "right way" is also proliferated by this approach, further convincing potential students that they don't have what it takes to dance. We aim to teach dance on the basis of universal movement concepts that anyone at all can explore without the pressure of remembering sequences or patterns, and without fear of dancing in an "incorrect" manner.
An offshoot of the trend toward a "wrong" and "right" way of dancing is the compartmentalization of dance itself. In order to go dancing with a partner today, one must attend either a swing, salsa, tango, ballroom, or other specific dance event. At those events, the overriding attitude is that little else is tolerated. Aside from the summer series at Robson Square, which brings all ballroom dance styles together in one place, we know of no event that simply offers the chance to partner dance to all kinds of music and in a wide variety of styles. We also know of few places where one feels free to either solo dance or partner dance, depending on the song. Usually, the only time someone solo dances during a partner dance event is when they are doing some kind of recognized solo dance, like a Charleston or a line dance. We would like to create a space where people feel free to dance whatever style they feel like at that moment.
Building Stronger Communities
On a daily basis we feel disappointed by the trend toward disassociation among the members of our community. We personally experience limited interaction with our neighbors, and we're not sure if this is due to fear, shyness, apathy, or an overall lack of common interest, purpose, and activities. We'd like to believe that the last reason is correct, as interests, purpose, and activities can all be nourished through events offered in the community. With dance, and partner dancing especially, we see the potential for new connections throughout our community. On a larger scale, we believe that the more time people spend in a cooperatively creative pursuit such as dancing, the less time they spend fighting.
Dance events do more than give people a place to meet and dance with each other. Partner dancers learn to more deeply respect the needs, abilities, and desires of their partners. Issues between the genders are also addressed as men and women stretch and swap traditional roles, leading and following each other without criticism or debate. Age differences are almost completely ignored; we have seen teenagers dancing with elders. And finally, as long as no one is barred from an event on the basis of income, people of all income levels gain the chance to interact, for at least a short period of time, on the same level. Even though it may seem that these bridges are temporary, we believe that people who dance ultimately carry new perspectives away from the dance floor and into everyday life.
Fostering Personal Freedom
We are not fully free if we are scared to express ourselves or frightened of moving outside of our shells. We especially are not free if we wish to dance or move in new ways but feel restricted by fear or the judgement of other people. By creating events that welcome all styles of movement, and by doing as much as possible to reach all demographics, we hope to give community members a place to explore their connection with others, express themselves through movement, and dance without fear of judgement. The same is true for our classes. Rather than depend on a curriculum of patterns that must be learned correctly, we welcome students' innovations and use their discoveries to further inform each class. Our ultimate goal for our students is the discovery and development of personal movement styles; differences, when approached this way, are completely welcome and encouraged.