Porch View Dances: Exploring movement with Westboro families

Award-winning Toronto-based dance group, Kaeja d’Dance, and Ottawa’s Tara Luz Dance, have been working with two Westboro families in the weeks leading up to Westfest to produce seven-minute dance performances on June 13.

These so-called Porch View Dances (PVD), created by professional choreographers, and performed by local families will take place in the front yards, porches and driveways of homes in Westboro during Westfest.

As part of the Canadian Dance Festival, PVD aspires to bring dance to everyday citizens, working with largely inexperienced individuals and families. PVD is the brainchild of Karen Kaeja with Allen Kaeja as co-founder and choreographer. This is their fifth year organizing and performing Porch View Dances and their first in Ottawa.

Allen Kaeja will work with the Hume family on Highland Avenue in Westboro and Anik Bouvrette (of Tara Luz Danse, Ottawa) is working with the Baker-Craze family on Denbury Avenue.

“They want people who can’t dance,” explains Doug Hume, father of five children between the ages of two and eleven, adding that he is “dance challenged.”

The family met with Kaeja in May. Kaeja sampled their ability to move by introducing the “circle” dance. “We all had to move and mimic one person in the group who called ‘change’ giving the next person a chance to introduce a different move. “It was really amazing, really fun and a bonding experience,” Hume says of the initial movement exercises with choreographer, Allen Kaeja.

One of two Porch View Dance family participants: Joanne and Doug Hume with their 5 children: Catharine (11) Sarah (8) Annie (6) Mary (3) Jacqueline (2). Photo by Al Goyette.

Hume sees a dramatic shift in people’s willingness to attend dance performances in traditional settings and Porch View Dances emerging as a result. He sees technology being partly responsible for the decline in attendance. The Hume household doesn’t own a TV or have access to the Internet. Research and printing of children’s projects for school are done at the local library.

Doug Hume is a composer, author and musician. Joanne Hume is an accomplished visual artist and musician. Catherine Hume (11) plays the piano and violin, sings in a choir and is involved in figure skating, golf, running, and ultimate. Sarah (8) plays piano and mandolin, sings in a choir, plays soccer, hockey and does weights. Annie Hume (6) plays the guitar, hockey and soccer. This is a busy family who is encouraged to develop their creativity.

Doug and Joanne Hume are both part-time teachers at Woodroffe Public School. The family owns two pianos and an 1870’s pipe organ, and Joanne Hume’s artwork graces the family living room.

The performance will take place from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on June 13. The guided route begins at 464 Denbury Ave., home of the Baker-Craze family. The crowd will then walk to the Hume family home at 589 Highland Ave. and finish at Westfest on Richmond Road. In between the performances by Baker-Craze and Hume families, there will be short site-specific dance vignettes performed by Mocean Dance of Halifax.

For more information about Kaeja d’Dance go to kaeja.org.

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