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Dance shows to raise money for youth mental health

By Alejandro Bustos on January 27, 2015

For a second straight year, young dancers from the National Capital Region will be performing as part of a charity fundraiser that fosters social charge through dance.

Dancers Give Back was originally founded in the United States in 2008 by Ali Dietz and her mother Mary Alice Dietz.  The first event was organised to help Ali’s friend Jacquie Hirsch, who was then suffering from leukemia, pay for her medical bills.

While sadly Jacquie has since passed away, this original fundraiser has grown into a movement that has now spread to Canada.

Last year, Dancers Give Back Ottawa raised $15,000 for Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Support program.

This year, the young performers are hoping to raise $30,000 for the Do It For Daron (DIFD) initiative at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, which promotes awareness around youth mental health issues.

Over 250 young performers between the ages of 13 to 21 will be dancing this Saturday in two shows, with each performance lasting two hours.  The dancers will come from 16 different studios and two university dance teams.

“Ottawa is a very talented dance city.  We have more studios per capita than most large Canadian cities, ” says organiser Jessica Shaw, who is also an instructor at Leeming Danceworks dance studio in Orleans.  “I think people will be impressed by the quality of dance that comes out of Ottawa.”

This fundraiser, adds Shaw, is a great opportunity to bring young local dancers together.

“Our event is very much about bringing the community together to learn and perform together,” she says.  “ The dance community in Ottawa, although extremely talented is often a competitive environment.  We aim to inspire young dancers that through collaboration, we can achieve more than we could alone.  Our motto is, ‘Together we Dance Louder.’”

Last year’s event was so successful the show sold out.  This prompted organisers to add a second show this year.

“We have also added a workshop on the Friday night where dancers ages 8 and up can come and learn from dance alumni from the Ottawa area,” says Shaw.  “This workshop will be held at the Brookstreet hotel from 5-10 pm. We still have spaces available.”

Dancers  Give Back Ottawa perform this Saturday at the Algonquin Commons Theatre at 2 pm and 7 pm.  Tickets are $26.50.