Step Up and Dance! - theHumm July 2021
Step Up and Dance! - theHumm July 2021
Dawn Dewar has been teaching Ottawa Valley Step Dancing for years, and when the pandemic made it impossible to do so in-person, she “pivoted” (dance pun intended) and decided to offer virtual classes. theHumm contacted her to find out more.
theHumm: Why were you drawn to traditional music and dance?
Dawn Dewar: I grew up on Ottawa Valley and Scottish Fiddle music. My parents were originally from Maxville in North Glengarry, ON. My father played the fiddle, and during my childhood he would bring the family to events where this music and dance were taking place — specifically fiddle and step dance contests throughout the Ottawa Valley.
This is where I fell in love with the dance.
I also saw how happy it made my parents. My sister and I fell in love with music right along with them, and it really created many happy bonding family moments.
When did you first start dancing?
Oddly enough, I didn’t really start dancing until well into my 20s. When I was younger, no one around me (in the city) knew what this was and none of my friends were doing it, so it was easy for me to forget about it when I would get back home from an event. But as the years went by I was really starting to itch for it, and knew I would regret it if I didn’t start!
I started teaching about twelve years ago when a friend of mine, who was also a dancer, asked me if I would like to help her teach. I was a bit nervous, but quickly got comfortable and fell in love with teaching. I’ve kept it up ever since!
I have taught private classes from my home, at the Chad Wolfe Dance studio, for the Munster Community Centre and most recently at the Nepean Creative Arts Centre.
What was involved in pivoting to offer online classes?
It was actually pretty simple. We use a Facebook Messenger video call (other options are available as well), and the student just needs their laptop and a dance floor. The sound and picture are quite good, so it works well.
What would a typical class involve?
I always work with each person’s skill set, whether they be child or adult. Whether you have lots of experience or are a beginner, I work very well with every skill set.
My intention with beginners is that they feel relaxed and comfortable. I’ve had teachers who tried to rush through things or get impatient when a student needs time, and this does not work. Being patient allows the student to get through the learning curve to see results.
I love to encourage and praise not just results but also effort, and I also love to have fun! We have great music to work with and my students and I laugh a lot.
How have your students responded to the new online format?
It was a bit of an adjustment at first because we would all rather be in person, but after the first few online classes we were off to the races.
Why do you think it’s important to keep people engaged in creative and fun activities even when we can’t do so in “traditional” ways right now?
This is so important. There are so many aspects to health and happiness. We must use what we have while other things are not available. This will keep your mood in check and will affect your hope for the future.
What we feed our mind and body always has an outcome. Let’s make it positive!
For more information or to register for Ottawa Valley Step Dancing classes, email Dawn at email@example.com or call 859–7869.
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