'Wild enthusiasm' from homeschool parents for national dance program: Sask. liaison

Krista Konkin is the Saskatchewan liaison for the National Ballet School. (Submitted photo)

The Saskatchewan liaison for the National Ballet School says they are expanding online teaching to let more students experience dance.

“Isolated communities are hungry for this and more excited for these resources. Different indigenous communities are getting involved in this and it’s important to the National Ballet School,” Krista Konkin told CTV News.

The Sharing Dance program started nationally 10 years ago and came to Saskatchewan five years ago.

Getting dance teachers to northern or remote areas in Saskatchewan is a challenge, Konkin says. The fact that these high-level resources are being created using step by step instruction for students with no dance experience is valuable.

The program allows classroom teachers or anyone with no background teaching dance to bring many types of dance to their students via elaborately planned video.

They were surprised by the amount of interest from the homeschool community which has grown during the pandemic as parents keep children at home for their education.

“There was a wild enthusiasm from homeschool parents to utilize these resources. They were just like, yes, yes, yes, thank you, thank you, thank you, where, how, when?”

Vivian Blais is a dance teacher in the program from North Battleford and says, giving all children this free opportunity to be expressive in dance, is extremely helpful for the mental health of children now during the pandemic.

“This dance program will bring them more freedom. Expand their space again because right now we are restricted and we can’t get close to anyone because of COVID with masks and no touching,” Blais told CTV News.

While she primarily teaches jazz, yoga and fitness type classes in the schools, what she teaches is not regimented and offers students of all ages a chance to learn at their own pace and explore dance in their own way.

The Sharing Dance program is open to anyone in Canada for free online and features all dance types from hip hop that incorporates indigenous dancing to jazz, African and metis jigging.

It’s hoped the new approach to delivering dance extends beyond the pandemic.