If you’ve been curious about the independent dance scene in Calgary, the Calgary Contemporary Dance Collective (CCDC) is a good place to start.
CCDC is a non-profit dedicated to supporting the artistic, technical and creative growth of Calgary’s emerging and established independent dance artists. It was originally created to help fill the gap that existed for dancers graduating from the University of Calgary dance program into a community that lacked opportunities to maintain their physical training levels at a professional standard. Responding to a local lack of dance infrastructure and in an effort to adapt alongside the needs of the artists it aims to serve, the collective has taken different forms since its inception in 2008. For example, while CCDC originally offered regular daily dance technique classes when it first began, the upcoming 2013-2014 season will now include three intensive training workshops throughout the year with various visiting artists. But, the driving force at the foundation of CCDC’s mandate has always stayed the same: to create more opportunities to entice independent dancers to choose to stay in Calgary to develop and sustain their careers and grow as artists.
Dance artists Helen Husak and Pamela Tzeng are currently at the helm of CCDC. As Husak emphasizes, the collective, first and foremost, works for the interest of the broader independent dance community, not solely for any particular artists. CCDC sees itself as a type of networking organization or hub, helping to connect the different artists in the city. They play an active role in bringing visibility to independent dance in Calgary, trying to help raise the awareness of such organizations as Calgary Arts Development, about the fact that independent dance needs to be considered as part of the creative planning here. They aim to create a forum for discussion about dance in Calgary, inviting necessary critical discourse and asking the hard questions about what is and isn’t working and what needs to change in the community.
Interestingly enough, as CCDC has taken shape over the past few years, several similar organizations have popped up in other Canadian cities, including the Good Women Collective from Edmonton, the Love In from Toronto and Young Lungs from Winnipeg. Even though Calgary offers its own set of unique challenges to its dance artists, it seems that independent dance throughout the country faces similar challenges.
For Husak, CCDC’s main attempt is to “put their finger on the pulse” of independent dance in Calgary. She appreciates the challenge of helping to create more awareness for dance in her hometown of Calgary. “There’s something to be said about the challenge to stay in a city that doesn’t have everything for you. Sometimes it can create even more opportunity for you. It makes your art form matter more when you have to fight for it.”
By Rosanna TerraccianoAB, Alberta