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DANS Summer Dance
Dance Summer Dance is now run by Ross Creek Centre for the Arts in Canning in August.
In the fall of 1999, the National Ballet School hosted a ground-breaking international conference “Not Just Anybody”. The purpose was to address the ever increasing psychological and physical demands placed on today’s dancers and to examine ways to help dancers and dance students to achieve peak performance within the context of well-being. Since the early 19th century when Filippo Taglioni developed the rigorous training program that enabled his daughter, Maria to astonish the world by dancing on the tips of her toes, it has been believed that superior dancing meant a life of sacrifice and pain. Alternate conditioning and training programs for dancers have been around since the days of Isadora Duncan, and have been widely used by modern dancers, but were an adjunct to dance classes and often introduced only after a dancer had experienced a debilitating injury.
In 1989 Dance Nova Scotia arranged for Linda Rabin, one of Canada’s most respected dance teachers, to come to Halifax for three weeks to conduct a professional development program for dance teachers called “Body Mechanics”. The program was based on the work of Irene Dowd, a former dancer turned movement specialist who was able to integrate functional anatomy and neuro-muscular re-education with fundamental dance training. This approach became the guiding principle of DANS Summer Dance and has been integrated through the daily floor barre-type, in developmentally appropriate body mechanics classes and in all of the ballet and modern technique classes.
In our third year, 1992, we engaged Donna Krasnow (MSc, Dance Science with specialization in Motor Control and Motor Learning) of the York University Dance Department to observe our program and provide guidance. Donna had just completed a sabbatical which included periods of study with Irene Dowd among others and she was in the process of developing her C-I Training (Conditioning with Imagery) Program. In addition to being one of Canada's foremost authorities on Limón technique, Donna was also developing an international reputation in the field of dance science. Over a period of four years she helped us to refine our two week training agenda so that our program would have a profound impact, both physically and intellectually, on the students who attend. In subsequent years we have been very fortunate to have on-going input from Sarah Gordon, a former dancer with a masters degree in physical therapy..
In the early 1990's the National Ballet School began working with Ms. Dowd in the application of her work to classical ballet training. Each summer they invite Ms. Dowd to teach a one week course open to dance teachers across the country. As part of the program the participating teachers take daily class with various guest teachers. Among the most popular is Robert McCollum, who specializes in taking Ms. Dowd’s work and showing how it can be successfully integrated in ballet technique classes. For the past five years he has led our ballet faculty and each year he brings this information to our students and to our community. Each year we offer a workshop to local dance teachers during DSD. In 2000, he stayed on for an extra week and worked with Irish dance teachers on finding ways to apply these healthy dancer principles to the demanding dance form practised by Riverdance! He did the same in 2005, working with both Highland dancers this time and has even given a workshop to Middle Eastern Dancers on correct use of the upper body and shoulder girdle.
The DSD program addresses neuro-muscular re-patterning, muscle imbalances, structural variations in dancers&; bodies and various growth issues. We also examine nutrition, self-confidence, responsibility and general well-being as factors in success in dancing. Our class size (12 - 15 students per class) allows for lots of personal attention for each student.
The DSD program addresses neuro-muscular re-patterning, muscle imbalances, structural variations in dancers’ bodies and various growth issues. We also examine nutrition, self-confidence, responsibility and general well-being as factors in success in dancing. Our class size (12 - 15 students per class) allows for lots of personal attention for each student.
DANS Summer Dance Philosophy
The body is not bruised to pleasure soul.
Nor beauty born out of its own despair,
Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil.
O chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?
William Butler Yeats, “Amoung School Children”
The Guiding Principles of DANS Summer Dance:
1. To expose dance students to new teachers, new challenges and new ways of learning about dance.
2. To provide a period of concentrated study that will enhance the student’s on-going training.
3. To introduce dance-related elements such as dance history, repertoire, anatomy and conditioning.
4. To set and enforce standards of behaviour, discipline and concentration which bring focus and commitment to the work.
5. To teach the whole child with consideration for physical, mental and emotional well-being.
6. To teach dance using the safest and most anatomically correct approach for the child, taking into consideration age, physical and mental development, strength, commitment and previous training.
7. To provide the student with as professional an experience as possible .
8. To make corrections in a positive and encouraging way, and to refrain, absolutely from sarcasm, insults and personal put-downs.
9. To help the students to understand that they are part of a world community of artists who share their love of dance.
10. To introduce students to other dancers from other places so that they feel that they belong to the larger dance community.
11. To help students to realize that they are dancers and that as dancers they have a special obligation to the health of their bodies, which are instruments for their art.
12. To introduce students to teachers and performers from the professional world of dance.
While DANS Summer Dance is restricted to students who have achieved a certain level of technical understanding, we are one of the few programs of this calibre that does not refuse admission on the basis of body type and professional career potential. Students are admitted based upon the recommendation of their teachers on the basis of attitude, work ethic and their ability to handle the material at their given level. It is difficult to determine career potential at the age of these young dancers. We have often been happily surprised by a student who seemed to lack potential and later blossomed into a wonderful dancer. Dance training is also excellent preparation for many other careers such as choreography, theatre, design, physical therapy careers, medicine, arts administration and even architecture! We have former students who have achieved all these things.
While our fees are competitive with similar programs elsewhere in Canada, we are aware that for most Nova Scotia families, the cost is still high. Part of our provincial funding is directed at giving bursaries to Nova Scotian students, but even with this we understand that DSD tuition is a major sacrifice for many families. But where there is a will there is a way. Students raise money for their tuition by means of car washes, baby sitting and picking strawberries. Many dance schools provide small scholarships to those of their students accepted to our program.
We have helped to launch professional dance careers, but not every student who comes to us will end up with a career in dance. In fact, most will not. Nevertheless their love for dance makes them important to the on-going health of the dance community. A number of former students are physiotherapists, massage therapists, school teachers, graphic artists, architects and arts administrators. Most are still dancing, dancing is a part of who they are. For this space of time, for these two weeks in the summer, they each had a chance to push themselves beyond the self-imposed limits of adolescence and to enter the zone where hard work builds self confidence ... to feel the thrill when everything clicks, when you can move through the air as if you own it... where the payback for long hours of sweat and toil is unbounded joy.
Code of Conduct
Please note: While we have lots of fun, DANS Summer Dance is an intense training program . Attendance involves making a commitment to full participation. All students and their parents must commit to the following:
1. Students must attend ALL classes and participate in ALL summer school activities.
2. Students must arrive in time appropriately dressed and ready for class.
3. Students must abide by all of the rules and regulations, including rules about remaining on site from arrival to departure.
4. Except in the case of illness or injury, repeated tardiness or missed classes will result in the student being asked to withdraw. In this case no refunds will be made.
5. Because of the physical demands upon their bodies, students must ensure that they get adequate sleep. Students younger than 15 will be in bed by 10:00 pm, and those who are older by 11:00 pm.
6. All students must attend the warm-up classes and final demonstration which will take place August 31, at 3:30pm
7. DANS Summer Dance is physically and mentally strenuous. During the period of the summer school (4:00 pm August 19 - 4:30pm August 31 ) DANS Summer Dance students are not permitted to engage in certain physical activities such as organized team sports, tournaments and other events which could cause injury or muscle fatigue. Breaking this rule will result in immediate expulsion with no refund.
8 Because of the short duration of this program medical, dental and other types of appointments (other than emergency) should not be scheduled during the period of DANS Summer Dance.
9. To get the most out of DANS Summer Dance, it is recommended that, the student prepare by taking a few dance or fitness classes before hand. If the student has been injured within the last 12 months and was given exercises by a physical therapist, it is strongly advised that these exercises be resumed for at least three weeks prior to coming to summer school, even though the symptoms of the injury may have subsided. Students who have not been doing this and who re-injure themselves as a result will not receive a refund-credit.
10. Dance Nova Scotia and the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts reserve the right to expel any students deemed to be behaving in a way that is persistently disruptive or that threatens the safety and well being of themselves or others, or who place at risk the property of Ross Creek Arts Centre, Dance Nova Scotia, the staff or campers. Please note: Included in these offenses are possession of weapons, alcohol, illegal drugs or cigarettes. In the case of expulsion for any of these reasons, refunds will NOT be given and charges may be made for damaged property. Dance Nova Scotia and the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts reserve the right to suspend campers from activities where their behaviour is deemed unacceptable.
DANS Summer Dance began with the vision of our artistic mentor, Sally Brayley Bliss, then co-director of NYC’s Joffrey 2 and trustee for the Anthony Tudor choreographic legacy. While visiting her home in Nova Scotia, teaching master classes and meeting with the dance community she became convinced that, if we all pulled together, Nova Scotia could have a first class summer school for our aspiring young dancers. Such was her commitment that she spend five years of her summer holidays teaching, directing and helping to make it happen.
Working with Sally and many other incredible teachers, both from Nova Scotia and away, we have shaped DANS Summer Dance into a summer intensive that accomplishes more in two weeks than you would have thought possible.
We began in 1990 with a full residential program at Acadia University and continued there for 11 years, until funding cutbacks forced us to change our format to a day program. But we were determined to return to the residence format, so that the students could experience total immersion in dance as well as making new friends and share the experience of being part of a very special community.