ST. PAUL – Forming a circle, while holding hands and dancing to the beat of the music, École du Sommet students demonstrated a traditional dance they had been learning over the past week. Some sang along to the lively tune while they all moved in unison, twirling and jumping to the rhythm.
As the dance came to an end, students took a bow, their faces beaming as they exited the centre of the school’s gymnasium, giving way to other students who also performed dances of their own.
On April 27, students from the St. Paul based francophone school displayed their newfound skills after completing a French folklore dance workshop in partnership with L'Association la Girandole from Edmonton.
Olivia Leclair, project and programming coordinator with the association, who also does dance residencies and dance workshops on behalf of the group, spent about a week in St. Paul, teaching French folklore dance to the students.
Dance residencies, she explained, are when artists are invited for more than three days to hold a dance workshop, with the intent of the students presenting what they learned with a show at the end of it.
Seeing the students perform on Thursday afternoon, Leclair was teeming with joy. Despite the small amount of time spent with them, she said, “It’s amazing what you can get done in a very short amount of time with kids.”
Also, “I found that their attitude was a lot more open once they realized what we were doing,” she said, explaining dance can be intimidating, and students may not even want to dance at all.
But when given "a very approachable way of doing it,” it can change their attitude toward dancing.
“They did amazing," she said, with a smile.
Dancing is an accessible way of learning cultures, Leclaire said, including the French-Canadian culture, which is among L'Association la Girandole’s goals. The association has been promoting French dance and culture since 1979.
The week-long dance workshop was made possible through the PassepART grant program, according to Lise Gratton, principal at École du Sommet. The program aims to bring art, culture, and heritage to Canadian Francophonie schools.