Thursday, January 25, 2018

JOY & POSITIVITY - IT'S NOT JUST MARKETING RHETORIC by Tobi Léveillé

This article focuses on the internal strengthening and uplifting aspects of dance when it is imparted in an atmosphere of enjoyment and encouragement.

March 7, 2017, I lost my Dad.  The manner in which he left this world was unthinkable, and left not only a hole in my life, but a wound that was deep, taking a long time to heal, and leaving a scar that will never be erased.

I have to admit, since that time,  it has been bothering me if I should share this with our customers and associates.  Some people I have shared this with because of a necessity to explain my own strange reactions to situations.  Initially, I felt that there was no value sharing this with our customers.  But in truth, this business is different from most, consisting of a community of children, families, teachers, and administrators that share something special that is difficult to put into words.  And as such, I knew at some level that sharing this tragedy at some point would be necessary and important.

It was the context of sharing that bewildered me.  I didn't want it to be empty words, only to generate sympathy.  There is a deeper meaning here that needed time to develop into an expression-able idea, one that could be used to help others.

I think I've come to the point in the healing journey where I can share, and even more importantly, feel compelled to share so people can understand why I am so passionate about sharing dance in a positive, enjoyable way with as many people as possible.  This is the context in which I compose the following ideas.

To me, dance is not about winning awards and recognition, its about winning at life with dance as the means to that end.  This is such a complex concept - what does it mean to win at life?  Certainly, the loss of my Dad did not seem like a win.  And the tragic way his life ended was the exact opposite of a life-win.  Its not because my Dad was not a dancer that his end came unnaturally early.  So, what does one have to do with the other?

I'm sure you have heard motivational phrases such as 'It's not what happens to you in life, it's how you handle it'.  I was not able to handle what happened well.  I'm human, and this situation broke me.  It has taken a long time to put some of the pieces of me back together, and the glue holding the pieces is not invisible.  At times I felt like a failure because I was broken.  The only way to move forward was to accept that I was broken, acknowledge that I had experienced a terrible pain, and learn to live within the context of that new reality for me and my family.

That idea led to my first 'win' post incident.  It came after attending a workshop in July, where I physically and mentally could not participate in fully because of what I could only recognize as post-traumatic residual reactions.  It bothered me so much that I could not participate fully.  What would become of me as a dance studio owner who couldn't deal with movements and situations that brought feeling of excruciating pain that did not allow me to function at full capacity?  I retreated after this 2-day workshop to do some much-needed processing, and after about a day and half of tormenting with this reality, I realized it was just that - a new reality.  I would accept this, and learn to move forward within this, and it would be ok.

I had to learn to give myself a break, both figuratively and literally.  When you own a business, that's a tough one!  Time off for me to be with my family and for me to pamper myself had to be a priority over the last 10 months.  But I disciplined myself to a schedule and stuck to it.  Dance taught me how to do that.

When I was in the studio, I took great joy and satisfaction in creating and teaching.  Moving in the studio allowed me to express myself.  Being active helped me to stay healthy and promote an overall sense of well-being.  When I was low I was able to distract myself and get lost in the movement and music.  Dance, being a form of self-expression, gave me an outlet for my feelings.

Setting goals with our teachers, administration, and students gave me things to work towards and look forward to, and the achievements were that much sweeter knowing they happened in spite of the adversity in the other parts of my life.

I re-discovered that I have a loving, supportive, and caring community of people around me that just needed to be asked once to help when needed, and they were there for me in an instant.  This community effect of the dance world  has carried me through the worst part of the healing process, and I am so grateful.  I've also learned through dance about compassion, and how I too can be there in an instant to support others and lift them up through tragedy and difficulty.

So when I say and advertise that dance should be a source of joy and positivity in your life, it's not just marketing rhetoric.  I also don't mean it should be easy and meaningless.  What I mean is that some people are just in it for the "wins" and that's ok for those that follow that line of thinking and approach, but for me, its a means, a lifestyle, and a way to add colour to one's life.  Even if a person never becomes a professional in the dance industry, through participation of a class or two per week, one can really reap the benefits dance can provide.

Its the combination of challenge, achievement, and expression that is what makes dance an important tool for healing, grieving, and strengthening one's inner self.  Please remember to keep it joyful, positive, and remember how lucky you are to get to move, feel, and celebrate living.









Thursday, September 28, 2017

How to Handle New Student Jitters

Before you give up on class for your child, be sure to check out the valuable information in this short video by Artistic Director, Ms. Tobi Leveille.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Top 10 Reasons Why Dance Should Be The 'Go-To' Activity For Your Child

Reason #1:

Dance builds healthy bodies and healthy habits.


From cardio to strength to flexibility, kids who take dance build regular exercise into their routines.  They learn to understand their bodies, and explore their personal strengths and limitations in a structured and safe environment.

Reason #2:

Dance teaches how to work with others and be part of a team.


Dance teamwork is different from other types of recreational activities in that its all about working together to make each other shine as stars.  When we help one another succeed in dance, the result is not just a 'win', its also a beautiful masterpiece!  

There's something here to be said about safety as well - let's face it, concussions are not a part of dance the way they are in other organized sporting activities.  

Reason #3:

Dance teaches a sense of independence and confidence.


As students practice and master various skills and movements, they begin to feel confident in themselves.  Add to that the fact that dance is a 'performing art', and you can see the strength of character develop in dancers.  Eventually these individuals learn that they are strong and capable, and this leads to self-confidence in other aspects of their lives as well.

Reason #4:

Dance teaches perseverance and how to overcome challenges.  


Sometimes during a performance unexpected things happen, like you fall, or you turn the wrong way.  Dancers learn how to cope and rise above when life throws you surprises, so they learn not only how to survive, but to thrive.

Reason #5:

Dance teaches patience.




Even though dancers make their movements look easy and effortless, it takes time and practice to make it look that way.  It can be frustrating to try to master spins, kicks, jumps, flexibility, and the latest moves, but when theses moves are finally achieved, it is very rewarding.  Dancers learn to be patient through this process, which leads to Reason #6...

Reason #6:

Dance teaches how to set & accomplish goals.



From the youngest to the oldest, dancers always have something to work towards.  For the 3-year-old it may be working toward showing their moves to their family on Observation Day.  The tween may be focused on getting into the splits for the first time.  Or the senior competitive dancer may be working towards getting their first triple pirouette for the next performance.  Dancers get an understanding of setting goals for themselves, and get the satisfaction of achieving these milestones.  They learn to understand this as a rewarding experience that they can apply to other aspects of their life.  

Reason #7:

Dancers learn the importance of working hard for success.



Nothing comes easily to us in life, and dancers learn that in order to accomplish their goals, effort is required. What better skill to equip your child with for success than that!

Reason #8:

Dancers learn respect & manners.



We usually think of dance as being 'disciplined'.  How dance classes are conducted really comes down to learning respect for oneself, their classmates, their teachers, and their environment.  At the end of each class, the students and teachers express how much they appreciate each other by a simple thank you, a bow or curtsy, or a round of applause.  Learning good manners and being respectful is a strong skill for future success in any career.

Reason #9:

Dancers create friendships and memories that last a lifetime.



Adults that took dance as a child can tell you that some of their fondest memories and closest friendships came from their dance class and performance experiences.  There is something about studying this art-form that is unique, and helps to form strong bonds between classmates.  What parent doesn't want their child to be happy and enjoy their childhood?

Reason #10:

Dance is FUN!




Have you heard the phrase, 'Dance like no one is watching'?  Why?  Because it is a blast!  It is an integral part of most life celebrations:  graduation, sweet 16, weddings, etc.  Let your child learn to be comfortable at any social event because they can let loose and dance through celebrations!

Don't delay - register your child for dance NOW.  For more information on classes offered, go to https://encoreperformer.com, or give us a call at 204-235-0879.  Join us and start your child on the road to learning successful life skills TODAY!




Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Dance Documentary by Encore Studios Student Omar Benson

One of our students, Omar Benson, did this documentary as a school project.  I think its an excellent reflection on the question of why we dance and why it is so important to us.  That is a question I personally struggled to be able to answer articulately for many years.  The kids featured in this documentary are amazing dancers and wonderful people.  Perhaps they go hand-in-hand?  Enjoy.



Sunday, January 29, 2017

6 Benefits of Dance Recital Participation

What is my child getting out of this performance experience?


As a parent, you may be thinking:  I’m paying for a costume that may only get worn once, I’m buying tickets for my whole family to attend a 3-hour recital in which my child will only be dancing for 3 minutes, I’m doing special hair, make-up, and making sure we have the right colour tights - all for what?

Excellent question! 

We think the question deserves an answer J.  Following is a short list of benefits to your child and the reason why participation in the recital is so valuable to their development.
 
1.       Recitals provide achievable goals

Just as athletes have tournaments and games, performers have recitals!  When a student knows they will be showing their moves off to family and friends, it gives them a bit of extra motivation to work a little bit harder.  In the end, the recital is considered to be the highlight of the dancer’s experience.  It is a celebration of their work over the past year of classes.  The pride they feel in accomplishing this goal is a real confidence-booster! 

2.        Recitals promote social cooperation (teamwork)

The dances in the recital are performed as a class.  Even though dance class encourages the development of the individual, the recital promotes working together toward a common goal.  Camaraderie is a skill that will help the student in school, career, and family life.  Students also learn patience, listening, and leadership skills as they help each other with learning and practising the steps.  (This is also why dance classes usually result in the making of friendships that last a lifetime!)


3.        Recitals help kids overcome anxieties

Because the recital dances are performed in groups, students feel safer about going out in front of a crowd to perform.  They get a sense of empowerment over the nervous feeling, and come out the other side realizing they overcame their fear!  The gratifying sound of applause will encourage them to take action in spite of when they are fearful, and help them to be brave enough to overcome other obstacles they will face in life.

4.        Recitals build memorization skills

Learning how to memorize is a highly-recommended skill for future professional opportunities.  If your child can have the ability to absorb and retain the steps of their dance, they are building skills towards a successful future without even realizing it.  Actually, they are probably just having fun, which is the best way to learn!

5.        Recitals build problem-solving skills

Things don’t always go easily, or as planned.  This is true in life, and in dance!  Learning how to overcome unexpected challenges is one of the many benefits of participating in the performing arts.  Whether it be how to deal with a lost costume piece, or figuring out how to remember to go left instead of right, dealing with the unexpected and working through to viable solutions is very beneficial for students of all ages (and parents too…did you think you were off the hook on this learning curve? Lol).

6.        Recitals create moments of celebration and lifelong memories

For families, recital is an opportunity to celebrate their child’s achievements in dance.  For dancers, the recital is a positive experience that instills a passion for the performing arts and, in turn, a passion for lifelong learning. The costumes and pictures then become valuable keepsakes of a special time for all involved.


Although the thought of the costume, practising, commitment, dress rehearsal, and performing in front of a large audience may seem overwhelming at first, the benefits of participating in the year-end recital are incredible!  Both dancers and parents alike often consider recital as the highlight of the dance year! 

Our Stars on Stage recital will be held this year on June 7 at Pantages Playhouse Theatre.  We can’t wait to celebrate with you!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

BE A BETTER DANCER WITH THIS SIMPLE ADVICE


Chloe Mathieu performing at CNDC April 2016 in Winnipeg

Chloe Mathieu, a 12 year old student at Encore Studios, recently attended 3 local dance conventions.  We thought this was a recognizable commitment for such a young lady, so we asked her to share her experiences with us.  Which convention was her favourite, what did she learn, and why she recommends other dancers should attend conventions.
The three conventions she attended were View Dance Convention, Triple Threat Dance Convention, & iDance.  Chloe says her favourite was View: 
“It was the most organized of the three.  It was less crowded (because they limit registrations) which meant you had more room to dance.  The teachers were really nice too, and took time to connect with the students.  Overall, it was the most welcoming of all the conventions.”
When asked what she learned out of these conventions, she mentions two important realizations:
“First, I realized how important it is to focus on the details the choreographers are giving as they teach.  I needed to try to work in the details as I was learning the moves, because this is what they are looking for in the final product.  The second thing that I learned about was musicality and the importance of staying in the beat and rhythm of the song being used.  I had just never thought about it much before these experiences.”
The most inspiring moment came from iDance and the Q & A session with the teachers at the end of the convention.  It was here that she heard from Hip Hop teacher, Tyger B, that it doesn’t matter whether you are the best dancer right now.  What’s important is the effort you put into your dance, and if you work at your personal best, eventually you will get to be the best. 
With Vocal Theatre as her favourite class at Encore Studios, she was thrilled that there was a Theatre class at iDance, which was “super fun”.
Chloe was the only student from Encore Studios to attend Triple Threat this season, and luckily she found it the easiest to make friends at this event.  But overall she said that all of the conventions had a competitive feel amongst the participants.  “It wasn’t bad though, it just pushed you to work harder.”
Chloe was one of three Encore students that won scholarships at View Dance Convention (the others were Sierra Reid and Anne Leveille).  About being recognized, Chloe says it was a surprise that she truly was not expecting.  She was excited with winning the award which made her feel like she had accomplished something, and pushed her to work harder at all of the conventions.
We asked Chloe what her advice would be to other dance students about attending conventions:
“Attending conventions helps to expand your horizons.  You learn more.  It’s also good to be with new dancers and learn from watching others that you don’t normally dance with.  Overall, I found that attending these conventions is really encouraging and I would recommend others to attend conventions when they can.”