In 2012, Hannah Beach closed shop on her Westboro dance school to the dismay of parents and children on the four-year long waitlist. As a solo entrepreneur, it was time for Hannah to regroup and reimagine the business from a community-building perspective.
Now backed by a three-year grant from the Community Foundation of Ottawa, Dandelion Dance – a registered charity – is re-opening in Westboro, offering dance classes that draw from creative movement and dance theatre.
“I had kids, and all the dance places I was finding were all about learning the steps,” says Hannah. “Most dance studios are about memorizing choreographed dances and I wanted a space where children could create their own dance works – based not on steps, but on their ideas and experiences.”
Dandelion Dance gives girls ownership over their productions by supporting them to choose their own topics and choreograph their own dances. “Teachers create a space where girls learn how to speak to each other in ways that facilitate collaboration, not competition,” says Hannah.
The girls learn how to share their opinions, brainstorm together and work collectively so that all voices are heard. Many of the girls come from very different backgrounds, and they choose their own music and costumes. This creates a rich and diverse choreography.
The teachers stay with each group of girls as they return to Dandelion year after year, which means the same teacher is with the girls until they are in their teens. This creates a close-knit community of girls who are strongly invested in the program – and in each other.
Sarah Posthuma is Head of the Children’s Program and teaches girls 6-11 years old. After seeing a Dandelion performance, Sarah was inspired to train and mentor with Hannah. “I was moved to tears by the performance,” says Sarah. “What struck me was that the girls were so involved in creating things that were really meaningful for them, and I think girls in our world need a lot of space for that.”
“We’re really excited to be back in Westboro – our roots are here,” says Hannah. Registration for classes is now open. You can find more information by visiting dandeliondance.ca/childrens-program.
This sponsored post is part of Kitchissippi Favourites, a special advertising feature that is printed in KT twice a year. Read the other profiles right here.
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