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The World of Dance Shakes Up the Kapital

By Apartment613 on March 19, 2014




Ottawa, it’s time to let loose! Shake your hips! Flare your hands! Stomp and kick your feet! The sensual sights and sounds of world dance are coming to Ottawa this weekend for the Dans/ce Kapital Festival.

Organizer Saveeta Sharma’s infectious love of dance and desire to share its beauty are apparent “When I came to Ottawa, there was little dance activity in the community. Having grown up with dance, … I wanted a platform that I could use to introduce all types of dances to the Ottawa community.”

Sharma is herself an Indian dance prodigy, “As a 10 year old, I danced for HRM Queen Elizabeth on her visit to Trinidad & Tobago. The glamour and excitement of that event made me focus on dance thereafter.“

Sharma hopes that this opportunity will offer, “Festival patrons … a better understanding of the art forms and their cultural roots.” Opening night is Friday, March 21st at the sexy Mercury Lounge with performances by the Azúcar! Latin Dance Company. Saturday offers a vibrant evening of world dance at the National Capital Dance Educator’s studio on Rideau. Take a tour through the Middle East, India and around the world with three performances scheduled. Sunday night is hosted by the Shenkman Arts Centre and will feature both a flamenco performance by La Otra Orilla Flamenco called “Unplugged” and a Latin Dance extravaganza by Azúcar! Latin Dance Company called “Caribe Latino” aka “Latin Caribbean.” Finally, the flamenco performance “Gitanos” aka “Gypsies” on March 24th at the Shenkman Arts Centre, is a tribute to the gypsy communities who left their homelands for Spain bringing with them great artistry. A parallel the dancers draw to them themselves as artistic immigrants to Canada.

The performances on offer feature world-class artists, found in the Ottawa area, across Canada and internationally. Now Ottawa gets to reap the entertainment and educational benefits of Sharma’s outreach efforts.

In addition to the spectacular performances, the Dans/ce Kapital Festival is offering $20 workshops at Sharma’s Upasana studio on Rideau. Sharma explains, “Dance artistry is divided into performing, creating and teaching. Any genuine artist will always welcome the opportunity to teach his or her art to the audience that watches and is enthusiastic about performances.” Sharma’s hope is that, “First time dancers will take away a better appreciation of the artist’s work and through that gain enthusiasm for the art form and a knowledge that will stay with them long after the performance is over.”

The workshops start with a beginner’s lesson in flamenco Friday evening and end with a flamenco intensive Sunday night. Flamenco, the national dance of Spain, originated in gypsy culture and was brought to the fore during the Franco dictatorship as a nationalist cultural attraction. The allure of the flamenco dancer as she expresses her authority and power through cries, stomps and claps has been a seductive trope of the Mediterranean for the past few hundred years. The colourful dresses, shawls and accessories only add to the mystique of this passionate art form as the dancer bends to and fights against the elaborate rhythm of the flamenco guitar. Time to shake off your shells and forget your ballet training, flamenco women take no prisoners.

Saturday afternoon can be spent on a journey through Brazil’s streets and clubs in a Capoeira intensive. Learn to shift from your everyday shuffle to foot-to-foot movements that leverage your body into quick and powerful spins and kicks. This dance originated several hundred years ago as a martial art developed by African descendants with a distinct Brazilian influence. Nicknamed a “game” or “zebra dance”, I assure you this physical dance is no laughing matter. It is a demonstration of strength and agility and is a bad-ass way of showing those off. Learn how to handle yourself on a crowded dance floor with some mean moves that attack, defend and enthrall.

Don’t hide those hips! Let them holler at the merengue and salsa class Saturday at 5PM. Learn to work any sweaty dance floor with hot and bothered Latin-based flare. Inspired by Cuban and Puerto Rican dance and music, Salsa originated in New York in the 1970’s, a take on the mambo, the hustle, swing and the cha cha cha. This popular dance style, which involves back, front and diagonal footwork, (like a very sexy time warp) has resurged in recent years and welcomes any beginner to its ranks. Merengue, the national dance of the Dominican Republic, has you holding your partner close and moving with them. The upper body stays composed while the chemistry between partners reveals itself with their hips moving in sync. Caliente!

Finally, Sunday offers a chance to learn the rich and elegant nuances of the South Indian fire dance Bharata Natyam. Based on the ancient Tamil temple dances, this modernly revived art form features a strong masculine script and a delicate feminine one. The Hindu God of this dance form is Shiva, who is at once benevolent and fearsome. As such, Bharata Natyam reflects this dynamism and hopes to inspire it its dancers.

With so much high quality dance on offer at the Dans/ce Kapital Festival, don’t miss your chance to take in a vibrant and affordable weekend of intense dance in Ottawa. “Ole!”

Dans/ce Kapital Festival takes place from March 21 – 24.  Click here for a full festival listing.