This was an excellent blog post by Simon Dove on BAM’s blog. I could not help but post a comment. You can see it all at this link:
I have reposted my comment below:
I was surprised and delighted to read this blog post. I am not a professional dancer, but in 2012 I got up the courage to audition for Montreal choreographer Sylvain Émard’s large work for both trained and untrained dancers, called Le Grand Continental. This half-hour long dance was performed at Pier 16 at the Seaport as part of the River to River Festival. We rehearsed 2-3 evenings per week for many months. It was challenging and rewarding. The experience was one of the highlights of my life. We were nearly 150 people of all ages, experiences, backgrounds and ethnicities. Community was built, friendships were made — and yes, bodies were toned! But that is not the end of the story. Nearly a year later, many of us came together to create the Shakedown Dance Collective, under the choreographic guidance of Jamie Benson and Deborah Lohse, both of whom were teaching assistants — as well as performers — for Sylvain during Le Grand Continental. I was part of this new dance collective until schedule conflicts forced me to leave. But the group is thriving and is open to all (so don’t hesitate to find them on Facebook and go dance with them!) It gives me immense pleasure to know that this experiment in “community arts” or “social practice” has gone on to change even more lives than just our original group of dancers in 2012. That, in my opinion, is absolutely world-changing — and it is why social practice is so valuable in the arts.