Artist Studies Inspire Kids with the Breadth and Depth of Dance Talent in Canada

Educators can access NBS’ FREE digital Resource Library to bring more dance into their schools. Our Artist Studies are a unique and fun tool for introducing students to different dance forms and inspire creative expression. Three of our engaging Artist Studies feature Powwow and Hip Hop with Angela Gladue, Afrofusion with Esie Mensah, and Storytelling and Creative Movement with Sharon Shorty.

Angela Gladue (“Lunacee”)—Artist Study, Powwow and Hip Hop

Angela Miracle Gladue is an award-winning dancer, choreographer, educator and emerging fashion designer from amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton, Alberta—Treaty 6 territory) and is a proud member of Papaschase First Nation and Frog Lake First Nation. Over more than fifteen years, her dance career has reflected fancy shawl, hoop dance, jingle dress dance and hip hop traditions and styles. She is a dancer for A Tribe Called Red, a mentor, and a life-long learner who believes in the power of dance to strengthen communities.

To create her Artist Study for NBS Sharing Dance Kids, Angela traveled with NBS to the Lac La Ronge Indian Band (Saskatchewan) to workshop her dance programs with students at a local elementary school. The resulting Artist Study is a three-part resource that teaches the foundational steps of powwow and hip hop dance styles, and introduces a choreography called “Crow Hop Challenge” that fuses both.

“It’s cool to see the similarities between hip hop and First Nations culture and then to pass on that knowledge to kids who aren’t necessarily involved in [either]. I think it’s a great way to relate them back to their own culture and make them see in themselves where they come from, and to be proud of that.” – Angela Gladue

Esie Mensah—Artist Study, Afrofusion

Esie Mensah, choreographer/dancer/teacher/model, developed Afrofusion as a unique style of dance that includes movements from traditional and contemporary African, Commercial, Urban and Contemporary styles. Through this style, she explores personal narratives of her Ghanaian heritage, blackness, and belonging. In addition to working with some of the industry’s biggest icons—including Rihanna, Drake, Janelle Monae, and more—she was named one of the 2017 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada, is the 2015 recipient of the Cultural Promotion award from the Ghanaian-Canadian Association, and the 2014 Black Canadian Award winner for Best Contemporary Dancer.

Esie first collaborated with NBS to create the 2019 NBS Sharing Dance Day Choreography. Since then, she has served as an Artist Mentor for NBS’ Take the Lead workshop—a multi-day arts-based leadership workshop for young women across Canada—and has developed a new Artist Study for NBS Sharing Dance Kids. Esie was also a Co-Choreographer of The Call, one of three key works performed at NBS’ Assemblée Internationale Festival in 2023.

“I am passionate about ensuring a future where youth are inspired to pursue storytelling in their lives, by incorporating their creativity, heritage and lived experiences. I believe it is essential to empower youth to express their artistic voices, and strengthen the country’s vibrant arts sector, authentically reflecting Canada’s diverse demographics.” – Esie Mensah

Sharon Shorty—Artist Study, Storytelling and Creative Movement

Sharon Shorty is a Dene storyteller and comedian from Whitehorse, Yukon and a member of the Tlingit First Nation and Northern Tutchone. Over the summer of 2022, NBS began the production of a new Artist Study with Sharon Shorty. From the Tlingit, Northern Tutchone and Norwegian People, and from the Raven Clan, Sharon was raised with the storytelling tradition of her southern Yukon community. A collaboration with Trent University and Yukon University, production included filming a workshop that combined Sharon’s family creation story with NBS’ dance expertise to create a combined workshop where participants were able to dance the key plot points in the story.

Her Artist Study is a unique storytelling and creative movement workshop.This digital resource begins with Sharon telling a story passed on to her by her grandfather, Jim Shorty. Then NBS Dance Educator Caitlin Marzialli introduces collaborative, fun and accessible activities that allow students to engage deeply with Sharon’s storytelling through different musical forms, dance formations, and creative movement pathways.

This Artist Study was developed as a collaborative effort between Canada's National Ballet School, Trent University, and Yukon University. It is made possible by the UArctic and Memorial University's Global Arctic Leadership Fund for Indigenous and Northern Collaborative Research and education engagement as a part of their circumpolar education Enhancing the Curriculum Collaborative Project. This project is designed to help students across the circumpolar region appreciate and engage with indigenous culture, performance, storytelling, and arts, as well as involve them in active experiential learning opportunities that build knowledge about their regions, people, and places.

Each Artist study offers step-by-step video instructions and ideas for educators to incorporate dance across their curriculum. Downloadable activity plans and student evaluation forms are also included.

Artist Studies are just a few of the tools available in the Resource Library to help kids engage in dance. Create a free account and explore our Resource Library today! Filter by Category and select “Artist Study” to find activities from these three artists.

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