Dance Preview: A montage of reasons to dance

By Hoang-Mai Hong

It’s no secret the average non-dancing person will usually cringe at the mention of a dance show. Maybe intimidation has something to do with this reaction. Dance combines athleticism and art, both hefty words–especially with the art–the average non-dancing person might be afraid of not understanding what they’re seeing or being able to appreciate dance without any proper background. Everyone has to start somewhere and seeing the University of Calgary’s 36th annual Dance Montage is the perfect place.

“I think if anybody was to go to their first dance show, Dance Montage would be the one,” says Dawn Dymond, the producer of Dance Montage since 1995. “For the simple reason that it’s not just for dancers, choreographers or people involved with the dance world.”

Dance Montage is also big on the grass-roots level. The show mixes beginner dancers with professionals, both from the university and within the Calgary dance community.

“Over the years, many, many people have had their first dancing experience with Dance Montage,” says Dymond. “I actually had my first experience here. A lot of the people [involved] who come to the university–who may or may not be taking a dance class–they’ve decided to come out to the audition, and it’s their first experience on stage. We’ve also got a class coming in, and they’re just people taking a community class, and a lot of these people have never been on stage.”

Beginner dancers don’t mean terribly amateurish dance pieces, though. Through the years, Dance Montage has been known for its outstanding performances quickly selling out. In the past, audience favourites have been pieces like a West Side Story-style dance-fight and a ballet featuring Harley Davidson bikers. This range helps explain the popularity of the show.

“The show is not all one style,” Dymond explains. “We’ve got jazz, tap, a funk Bollywood piece, theatrical, modern, hip-hop… There’s everything there. Even if you find a dance style you don’t like, you can just wait a few minutes and there’ll be another dance that’s completely different from the one you just saw.”

This year, audiences can expect 12 different pieces covering every facet of dance. One act is set to the soundtrack of Moulin Rouge and features a storyline similar to The Nutcracker. Another shows a little girl being taken in by her dolls Another still is a Bollywood piece with an Indiana Jones theme. Such eclecticism provides more for Dance Montage than just entertaining audiences–it also act as recruitment for next year.

“Just knowing that there are people out there that are beginner dancers, and seeing how well they do on stage, you think that ‘maybe this is something I can do,’” Dymond remarks.

So don’t cringe when you hear talk of Dance Montage. It might open up avenues you never knew existed.

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