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Dance teacher gets community moving and grooving in unison

You don’t need red shoes to groove, and you don’t need moonlight to sway, now’s your chance to dance along with people across the nation all feeling the beat of the same drum.
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You don’t need red shoes to groove, and you don’t need moonlight to sway, now’s your chance to dance along with people across the nation all feeling the beat of the same drum.

Erin McAndrew is a local dance teacher and choreographer, and she’s hoping Collingwood will join in for the dancing as part of an initiative called Sharing Dance.

The routine goes like this: learn a dance through step-by-step instruction, dance together with others who have learned the same dance at the Sharing Dance celebration day event June 7.

McAndrew brought the program – which is run by Canada’s National Ballet School and funded by the federal government and business sponsors – to Collingwood last year. She taught the dance to 400 elementary students who got together for a synchronized performance.

“It was a fabulous success, and I’m looking forward to building on that this year,” said McAndrew.

She’s signed on to spearhead the Sharing Dance program in Collingwood again, and has partnered with the Healthy Kids Community Challenge program in Collingwood to reach all the elementary schools in the area. She’s currently going to nine schools each week to give the kids a dance lesson.

“I’m very passionate about the idea that everyone can dance, and everyone should feel like they can dance,” said McAndrew. “We are all unique, we all dance differently. I think there’s something so beautiful in that.”

On June 7, the students who learned the dance – and anyone else who wants to learn it at home via the Sharing Dance website will gather at Central Park to perform from 10:30 to noon. The celebration event will also include guest performances and interactive entertainment.

“I think it’s really important to foster the arts,” said McAndrew. “This is free, it’s culturally inclusive and it’s accessible to everyone from five to 105 years old.”

Everything from the music to the choreography comes from Canada’s National Ballet School. McAndrew takes the program and teaches it to the school kids.

The theme of this year’s Sharing Dance program is Power Off and Play, so there’s a focus on activity away from technology and devices.

“We’re talking about what it feels like when your body is connected to electronic devices versus when it is not,” said McAndrew. “I think that’s relevant to young people and anyone living today in this digital age.”

McAndrew grew up in Winnipeg and started dancing there. When her family moved to Collingwood she continued dancing and graduated from University of Western and George Brown College with a commercial dance diploma.

She owns and operates a production company called EM Creative Productions, and her work is mostly project based now, though she did spend a number of years teaching dance.

She recently produced a show celebrating the life and art of Joni Mitchell and she’s working with Quarter Century Theatre on an upcoming production called Collected Stories for a Better World.

“For me, dance is a universal language,” she said, adding she has travelled around the world to study dance, including time in Thailand learning about mystical dance. “It’s something that everybody can relate to. You can speak using your body, and I think that is so beautiful. It’s something that really unites people. People are able to connect and share in a way that is really magical.”

To participate in Sharing Dance day in Collingwood, whether as an individual or a school, email Erin McAndrew.




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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter, photographer and community editor.
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