This week in the Future of Ottawa series, we’re taking a deep dive into Ottawa’s dance scene—what it’s like now and where it’s headed. Read on for a guest post from Alea de Castro and Arnaldo Betancourt Silva on street dance in Ottawa, or read posts from Yvonne Coutts on professional contemporary dance and Cathy Levy on dance creators at the National Arts Centre.
MOOV Ottawa Dance was founded by Alea de Castro and Arnaldo Betancourt Silva in 2018. They specialize in the arts of hip hop and various street dance styles. Through event coordinating, shows, entertainment, dance classes and competition, MOOV welcomes beginners and experienced dancers alike. With their international and local presence, MOOV offers a bilingual creative outlet and an overall unique experience and guidance to street dance culture.
Apt613: What is the current landscape of street dance in Ottawa?
Alea de Castro and Arnaldo Betancourt Silva: Ottawa dancers are almost always found practicing in some hot spots in the city! I can guarantee you can find groups of Poppers practicing near the ByWard Market or Parliament in the evenings, Bboys, BGirls and dance troupes at Carleton University and small patches of hip hop groups that get down at uOttawa. For MOOV specifically, we can be found at Lansdowne at the basketball court on sunny days.
In terms of size, it has fluctuated from the 80s until now. We’re pretty tight-knit and everyone knows everyone.
A great start to join into the scene is to either attend a class (which at the moment is a bit scarce due to the pandemic), or join a practice session. It’s good to know the social aspect of the dance from the get-go and get to know the people already involved. This can help you see how the culture is and meet those who can guide you as you start off. Dance videos are great too, but we believe the social aspect is key!
One trailblazer in the city that comes to mind is B-Boy Crazy Smooth. He’s been in the game for over 20 years, runs his own dance company, teaches graciously, but can still smoke you in a battle!
If you care to make a prediction… where is street dance going in Ottawa in 2021?
I believe, unfortunately, in the city street dance will be a bit quiet this year and low-key. Due to street dance being such a social culture, the restrictions make it difficult to safely be around each other, and also create the same vibe it did pre-pandemic.
There are the small groups that practice at the locations above, so you can still find pockets of our amazing community, but battles, performances, indoor classes and larger social practices will be nil or at small numbers. It is definitely a work in progress.
We will be hosting outdoor classes and free practice sessions through our company specifically when deemed safe, but overall, we may have to wait until 2022 to gather at large and have the same vibe prior to 2020.
Where in your wildest dreams could street dance go in Ottawa in your lifetime?
Having street dance in every form accessible to all kids in all neighbourhoods. This is where the dances and cultures started, so this is where it should be in our city.
What is the best innovation to take place in street dance since the pandemic started affecting Ottawa?
Online classes! As long as dancers have access to internet, they were able to take classes from world-renowned dancers and pioneers from all over the world. Most Ottawa dancers, especially the new generation, have not been able to access these artists from New York City, Paris, Hong Kong etc., but with the technology and new usage of Zoom classes, they have the opportunity to do so.
Who is the future of street dance in Ottawa?
Tell us something you wish somebody told you when you started your career in dance?
Get a car ASAP! It may be a luxury and challenging task for some, but this has been a key component to increasing your opportunities. This saves time to take your classes, teach your classes, head to performances, and opens up more opportunities to travel within your own city and outside. This is a huge contribution to dancers not taking advantage of opportunities close to home, or in major cities that are drive-able like Toronto or New York!
Back in 2015, Apartment613 took a look at the future of Ottawa across several different sectors. In 2021, we’re bringing the series back, asking experts, artists, and community leaders to shed some light on their local field or industry, as it stands now and where they think—or dream—it will go over the next few years. Every week we’ll profile a different cultural sector in Ottawa, leaving no niche unexplored—from social justice to theatre, bars to sports, to the future of the municipality and its natural environs. Keep an eye out for a new batch of posts every Tuesday on Apt613.ca.