9 things you can watch for free this International Dance Day

From documentary to teen drama, these dance titles are waiting for you on CBC Gem.

From documentary to teen drama, these dance titles are waiting for you on CBC Gem

Dancer and choreographer Santee Smith appears in Season 2 of The Move. Watch it on CBC Gem. (CBC Arts)

You could dance if you want to. Or you could just move your butt over to the couch and watch some TV. Either way, Thursday, April 29 is International Dance Day, and CBC Gem is home to some top-notch programming on the subject. Looking to mark the occasion? You can stream the following titles for free.

As for what to queue up first, what are you in the mood for?

Something short

The Move

Izzy Watson in Season 3 of The Move. (CBC Arts)

This stylish CBC Arts original web series puts the spotlight on Canadian dancers and choreographers, blending personal stories with performance. For its third and latest season, young dancers (as in tweens and teens) take centre stage in a series of short but impactful profiles.

Prince's Tale

Poster for the CBC Short Docs film Prince's Tale.

A past winner of the Hot Docs Festival award for Best Canadian Short, this one's a story of inspiration and resilience. The star is Prince Amponsah, a Toronto-based actor. Six years before the documentary crew started filming, Amponsah lost both his arms in a fire. His recovery was long and difficult, but in this short doc, he shares his road back to the stage through words and dance. 

Exposed Nerves

Still from Exposed Nerves.

Told through movement, this eight-minute film tells the story of a young dance instructor living with bipolar disorder. Starring Alexandra Winters, the piece was written and directed by Madison Thomas with choreography by Kayla Jeanson.

Twilight Dancers

Twilight Dancers is streaming for free on CBC Gem.

Set in Pimicikamak Cree Nation, roughly 800 km north of Winnipeg, this doc drops you at their annual winter festival, where a crew of teenage square dancers are ready to take the floor. Released two years after a suicide epidemic rocked the community, it's a story of how dance and culture have offered a way forward. Director Theola Ross has roots in Pimicikamak, and as she told CBC Short Docs when the film first aired, she grew up square dancing and jigging — just like the youth in the film.


Off Kilter

Alejandro Alvarez Cadilla stars as Milton Frank in Off Kilter.

Chase all those documentaries with a mockumentary. What does it take to stage a big showbiz comeback? Off Kilter probably won't answer that question, but it's the tale of a middle-aged dancer taking one last grand jeté at becoming the "the critically acclaimed jerk he never got to be in the '90s." 

Teen drama

The Next Step

The Next Step. (The Next Step)

Here's another mockumentary option for you. The seventh season of this Toronto-set series is now on CBC Gem. Catch up with the dancers of The Next Step studio as they prep for another big competition. (This time, they're headed to Nationals.)

Utopia Falls

Robyn Alomar plays Aliyah in Utopia Falls. (Brooke Palmer)

This genre-blending teen series mixes music and dance with Afrofuturistic sci-fi. Set in the distant future, where the last remaining humans live in a domed colony, kids are chosen to compete in a worldwide contest the year they turn 16. But instead of fighting to the death (per the usual Y.A. fiction playbook), this challenge is essentially a next-level talent show. But the order of things is disrupted when our heroes stumble on a secret trove of 20th-century pop culture. (All this time they've been living in a world without hip hop?!)

TV specials

The Improbable Dream 

Students from the National Ballet School's Class of 1981 reunite for a new CBC documentary, The Improbable Dream. (Supplied)

They trained their whole lives to dance ballet, but what happened after graduation? In this hour-long documentary, catch up with the National Ballet School's class of 1981.


Revisor is based on a satiric tale of government corruption. (Michael Slobodian)

In February 2019, this stage show by Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young premiered in Vancouver. Filmed for this CBC special, the story is based on The Government Inspector, a 19th-century political farce by Nikolai Gogol, and the show blends theatre and dance, much like Pite and Young's groundbreaking 2015 production, Betroffenheit. (Go inside the making of Revisor with these interviews on q and CBC Arts.)

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