Igniting a Passion for Dance & Active Living

Igniting a Passion for Dance & Active Living

Kristie Wang's picture

Igniting a Passion for Dance & Active Living

Canada’s National Ballet School wants to make the joy and health benefits of dance available to all Canadians. For the past four years, the organization has been successfully piloting Sharing Dance, a free online resource for teachers and community members who want to teach dance.

“Dance is a great form of exercise that also promotes mental and emotional well-being,” says John Dalrymple, Associate Director at Canada’s National Ballet School. “However, not all youth have access to formal dance activities in their communities. While dance is part of the K-8 physical education curriculum in schools in all provinces, most schools do not have the resources to hire specialised dance teachers.”

To solve this problem, Sharing Dance is delivering a wealth of online content to educators, including live video instruction, teaching resources, and community portals. The lessons and routines on Sharing Dance are designed for students of all ages and levels. The platform’s teaching resources include helpful pedagogical advice so that even teachers without dance backgrounds can incorporate dance into their curriculum.

“We aim to empower Canadians to collectively experience the joys and health benefits of dance, and to make fun and accessible dance activities a regular part of their lives,” says Dalrymple.

According to the National Ballet School, dance can be a fun, alternative activity for people who may have found it difficult to hit the treadmill each day, or who haven’t found a sport that is for them. “Dance is an excellent physical activity that has exertion levels better than many of the ‘typical’ physical activities,” Dalrymple points out.

“Staying mentally and emotionally engaged in physical activities is the key. Through Sharing Dance, you can learn to dance with other members of your community and get active doing it. Dance requires mental focus and it is a social, creative endeavor that has been proven to keep practitioners engaged more consistently than other more solitary exercise programs.”


Sharing Dance provides dance routines with complete instructions. The routines are designed to be fun, inspirational, and culturally diverse—for example, contemporary indigenous, African Carribean, Bollywood, and contemporary jazz routines are all available. And to provide access to participants of all ages and abilities, including aging populations for whom dance activities are particularly beneficial, Sharing Dance has created a modified, seated version of a routine as well. Youth with severe physical impairments and adults living with Parkinson’s Disease have danced together in blended performances—an achievement that Dalrymple is particularly proud to report.

“Seeing people, many who have never danced before, experience and appreciate the joys and health benefits of dance, is our inspiration,” says Dalrymple. “They stoke our mission to grow Sharing Dance so that it makes a difference in as many people’s lives as possible.”

“Our favourite quote has to be our Sharing Dance motto: ‘Learn to. Love to.’ – because it’s true. There is no greater satisfaction than learning something new and being rewarded with the confidence that comes with that experience. Anyone can learn to dance and the health benefits are so beneficial. For us, ‘Learn to. Love to.’ is another way to remind ourselves of the profound effect Sharing Dance can have on people and communities.”

Looking forward, Sharing Dance aims to reach a million youth and adults across Canada by 2017, Canada’s 150th birthday. Working with key partners across the country, Sharing Dance is planning to engage the community in a pan-Canadian dance celebration. The organization will be focusing especially on school-aged youth and supporting their teachers with tailored dance resources to promote participation.

“Our national and regional partners will help us build a ripple effect and ensure Sharing Dance is a vital program in every province and territory,” says Dalrymple “The Play Exchange has been an incredibly exciting opportunity for us to take a big step forward in our dream to build this pan-Canadian initiative!”

Sharing Dance is a finalist of The Play Exchange! All six finalists were announced in September, and will be featured on a national television program in January 2015. Canadians will have the chance to vote for a grand prize winner, who will receive up to $1 million to put their idea into action. Stay tuned for more information on the television program and voting, coming soon!