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Q&A with the author of Learn To Speak Dance

Learn to Speak Dance book
Be sure to head to our Facebook page for your chance to
win a copy of Learn to Speak Dance!
Image courtesy of OwlKids

 
Ever watch your favourite dance show and wonder, what style of dance is that dancer doing or how does this dancer makes his hands move with such quickness and precision? They make it look so fluid that when you try it at home it’s not as easy as it looks -sometimes, you don’t even know where to begin!

Providing the reader a backstage pass into the world of dance, Learn To Speak Dance: A Guide To Creating, Performing and Promoting Your Moves  (LTSD) gives kids the opportunity to look at all aspects of dance from starting dance (everyone can do it!) to musicality, making dances to muscle memory, to dance styles and much more!

“Dance is the only time (ever!) that we move without a goal in mind, like reaching for the cereal box, or trying to kick the ball in the net,” says Ann-Marie Williams, author of LTSD. “It’s the only time we move just for the sheer joy of moving our bodies. When you stop and think about that, that makes dance pretty special!”

Wanttodance.ca
had the chance to chat with Ann-Marie who drew upon her experiences as a dancer and dance instructor.

What was the inspiration behind this book?
This book is the second in a Learn to Speak series (following Learn To Speak Music, written by John Crossingham, of the band Broken Social Scene). John’s book did such a wonderful lifting the curtain on the music world and showing young enthusiasts what being a musician (amateur or professional) was all about. We wanted to capture that energy and avoid making a traditional ‘how to’ book with LTSD. You’ll find some instructional information, but the focus was more on providing a glimpse into the dance world, and showing kids that behind all the fancy moves they see on TV is the same, simple love of moving to music that they have.
One of the most wonderful aspects of writing this book, was that it got me back in touch with what excited me about dance as a young person - the magic, mystery and thrill of moving to music.

Who is this targeted towards?
I wrote the book imagining a young reader around 11 years old, who may love watching dance on TV, has never taken a class, but is curious and wants to give it a try. At the same time, we wanted to make sure it was packed with enough interesting information that the more serious dance student would love reading it too. The book progresses all the way from finding your first class to managing your dance career.

There’s a lot of Canadian content here, why did you choose that?
Because it’s the dance world I know best. I grew up dancing in Toronto, and have also had the chance to travel Canada and see so many amazing dance performers through my work with The CanDance Network (a network of dance presenters). When working on the book, I naturally contacted artists that I was inspired by. And, Canada’s got a lot of talent, in so many different styles of dance from ballet to butoh to bboying.

Is it something you’d feel teachers in the classroom could benefit from?
That’s funny, so many people have asked me if we wanted LTSD to be a teacher’s guide. It wasn't our focus, but I can see how it could be used that way. I’d be delighted if some teachers found it useful!

How do you talk about dance that makes sense to kids and still appeals to the adult?
We wanted to respect our young readers intelligence, and not dumb down any of the information. So, there’s a lot of really complex ideas in there, like what dance means from a sociological and anthropological perspective, or what happens anatomically when we dance. I worked hard to break down these ideas to their core, and find fun metaphors to help explain them. It also helps to have a talented editor telling you when your writing doesn’t make sense!

What’s the dance-scene like in Canada?
In three words: diverse, exploratory, humble. In major cities at least, you can find a dance class or performance in styles from all over the world. Some of my favourite dancers are those who fuse a traditional dance styles with more contemporary moves, like Bharatanatyam and Contemporary, like Ipsita Nova or Bboying and Modern, like the 605 Collective. In Canada, artists are exploring their identity in an intercultural environment - they’re free to be creative with so many different influences. Lastly, our dancers keep themselves in incredible shape and create innovative choreography on shoe-string budgets. It’s amazing, when you think about it.

How important is it that dance is exposed at a national level?

I think it’s great that dance is experiencing such popularity on reality TV, especially for young guys who’ve got secret living room moves. It shows young people that dance is thrilling for all of us, and it’s not just for girls! Dance brings us joy, and makes us healthier and smarter. We should all do more of it, regardless of our age, sex or talent level!



Learn To Speak Dance is available on owlkids.com for $16.95.

Ann-Marie Williams has danced since she was a small child. Trained in ballet, jazz, modern and tap, and she eventually earned a teaching certificate with the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) as an undergraduate at the Ryerson Theatre School going on to complete a master at York University. Dance has always challenged her limits, given her self-confidence, and taught her that the best way to live is to remain curious and open to learning new things. Perhaps most importantly, it’s given her so much joy. She currently runs Movement Lab in Toronto, a place combining ballet technique with a more creative movement approach to training. Always curious and reading about new developments in arts-based learning, having her own classes allows her to integrate innovative new exercises from the world of neuro-education (where neuroscience and education scholars meet).

Posted: Sep 20, 2011 By WantToDance.ca | with 0 Comments

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