Calgary

Front-yard dances use art to build community in Calgary

Nicole Mion wants neighbours to get to know each other and she's using dance to achieve it.

Springboard Dance hopes initiative will introduce neighbours and expose Calgarians to creativity

Springboard wants neighbours to get to know each other through dance, with a new iniative in Forest Lawn and Hillhurst-Sunnyside. (Pam Tzeng)

Nicole Mion wants neighbours to get to know each other and she's using dance to do it.

As the artistic director of Springboard Performance, the group responsible for the containR village in Sunnyside, Mion is organizing front-yard dance performances in Forest Lawn and Hillhurst-Sunnyside, designed to tell the stories of those who live there.

"I think those communities capture the breadth of what Calgary's all about," says Mion.

The stories will be told using multiple mediums, not just dance.

"You're telling stories through word, through movement, through music. All the disciplines could be involved and dance could be many different things — from the way people move their hands to jumping all over the place," says Mion.

"So there's a real range, it depends on the story at hand and the interests of the neighbour at hand. So you don't have to be fearful of having to get dressed in tights and a tutu. We will be very gentle."

Broad range

Dances will be spread throughout the community, led by a stilt walker, and will culminate in a potluck picnic.

Jim Besse is one of the Sunnyside neighbours involved in the project and is hoping to incorporate his winter-time work on the area's skating rink into his tale. Two of the Forest Lawn participants are a couple who own an Indonesian restaurant. 

"Their story is very different from the ice story," says Mion. "So you get this real broad range of what makes up Calgary."

She hopes that beyond neighbours getting to know each other, Calgarians who might not otherwise take in performances will also be exposed to local creativity.

"Art is not always so strange and in a black box, sometimes it can be on your front lawn and telling stories and you learn something new about your neighbours," she says.

The performances will take place on August 15 and 16 and are free of charge. 

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