East Side Dance Festival Inspires Students and Creates Virtual Community

May. 06, 2020


Like all big events planned for this spring, the East Side Dance Festival will be showcasing the incredible talents of students online while delivering workshops virtually. When it became clear that the festival could no longer happen due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the co-chairs of the festival Kelly Brownlee, teacher at Father Lacombe High School and Kelsey McMahon, teacher at Forest Lawn High School, made the quick decision to switch the festival to an online platform.

The East Side Dance Festival’s goal is to create an inclusive community where diversity, growth and inspired life-long learning are celebrated through the art of dance. Four high school dance teachers from CBE and Calgary Catholic School District started the festival in 2013 to provide a platform for students to perform, connect with peers and receive unique training.

After receiving a generous grant from the Calgary Arts Development Foundation (CADA) in September 2019, the festival decided to incorporate and has established the East Side Dance Festival Society. With the cancellation of the in-person festival, they have reallocated grant funds towards an online bursary for CBE and CCSD students and have hired local dance artists to create online content that students can access from home.

The online workshops include a variety of styles ranging from jazz, tap, contemporary and urban styles. International hip hop choreographer, Sho-Tyme Stylzplay has also created two online dances classes that students will be able to take from the safety of their homes as of May 6.

The East Side Dance Festival Society is pleased to award $5,000 to deserving CBE and CCSD students this year. The winners will be announced on May 6 at 7 P.M.

They will also post the rehearsal footage from the participating schools who would have performed in this year’s festival on the East Side Dance Festival website. Schools created work in a variety of dance genres including jazz, contemporary, urban styles, open and student choreography.

You can visit the East Side Dance Festival website or follow East Side Dance Festival on Instagram @eastsidedanceyyc.

In a time when many feel isolated and anxious about the future, the East Side Dance Festival Society is able to rally the Calgary dance community to provide support and hope for our students. Even though we cannot be together, our shared passion for dance binds us.