Sharing Dance in the North

Sharing Dance in the North

In the Northwest Territories, Fort Providence—with a population of less than 1,000 people—sits on the banks of the beautiful Mackenzie River. The town is within the Dehcho First Nation, a tribal council representing the Deh Gah Got’je First Nation and the Fort Providence Metis Nation.

The relationship between the Fort Providence community and NBS started, of all places, in Sweden during the International Physical Literacy Conference in Fall 2019, where NBS delivered a workshop. Thorsten Gohl, Physical Literacy Coordinator in the Northwest Territories, took part in the workshop and connected with NBS to bring dance programming to the community. The pandemic foiled initial plans for NBS to travel to Fort Providence for program delivery.

Instead, the partnership explored how digital technology could facilitate NBS’ program delivery to Deh Gah Elementary and Secondary School in Fort Providence.

In fall 2020, three times each week, NBS community dance teachers live-streamed creative movement classes to grades 2–7 students. In this program, activities are designed to teach physical literacy skills, inspire confidence, and build students’ motivation to be physically active throughout their lives.

“I believe that this helps kids, especially young ones, to see the world in new ways,” says Thorsten. “Learning about creativity, exploring ourselves and the world around us. It keeps us away from the survival mode and lets us create for the sake of expression, meaning and being. With dance, and especially for the NBS program, it looks at fundamental movement, exploring our bodies, our mind, our senses and helps us to be in the present moment without thinking. Seriously, it cannot get any better than that.”

By adding live instruction, facilitated by TakingITGlobal’s Connected North Network, the initiative also created a palpable exchange of energy between students and teachers. More than 3,100 kilometres apart, dancers and dance teachers shared and collaborated to create movement activities with personal meaning.

Thorsten says the early stages of this partnership have been promising for students in remote areas. “Especially for us in the North, we depend on teachers that have skills and/or passions to share certain activities with the students,” he says.

“Having such an amazing partnership with NBS in a virtual learning environment enriches the lives of our kids. Just having that connection, building trust and of course being physically active while moving, dancing, jumping . . . is not just important, but essential for our students.”

Strengthening Connections in Northern Canada

In the 2022/23 school year, Community Dance educators spent time on the road, bringing numerous engagements, workshops and partnerships to communities in Northern Canada. With NBS dance educators in the community, many dancers in remote parts of the country were able to engage in physical literacy and creative movement, ballet classes, and adaptive dance practices, incorporating more diversity and inclusion in the studio. Our educators covered a lot of ground, travelling thousands of kilometres.

In the Northwest Territories

  • In Yellowknife at Bella Dance Studio, we held 4 workshops that engaged 10 staff and 95 dancers ages 0 to 65

  • In Fort Providence, we delivered 15 workshops over three days at Deh Gah Elementary School. With predominantly indigenous Dene peoples from the area making up the population, we had the pleasure of learning a little of the language while working with their 50 students from Kindergarten to Grade 9. Evenings were spent at the community centre connecting with the wider community

  • In Hay River, we delivered seven workshops at the Recreational Centre and l'école Boréale engaging 68 people ages 2 to 14 years

Northern Ontario

  • In May, NBS’ Community Dance educators traveled to Northern Ontario to deliver a series of workshops at:

  • The Ininew Friendship Centre in downtown Cochrane, dancing with 25 participants, ages 2 to 80

  • Cochrane Public School, teaching 254 students from Kindergarten to Grade 8 over 12 workshops

  • Taykwa Tagamou Nation with an intergenerational group

  • The Golden Manor, a long term care facility in Timmins, with 26 dancers


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