Danielle Gardner Founder of Impact Dance Productions would like to introduce the first of many blog posts that will be featured on www.daniellelgardner.com.
My own career path is perhaps one of the least traditional I’ve come across, having started a professional dance company at 17. In just under a decade, I have already experienced so many genre shifts that I’ve come to realize that many of the students I’m currently working with have no idea that I started out just like them. While I always placed a strong focus on ballet, primarily through the training from my mother Loretta Lachner, there was nothing I loved more than jazz. I was a Triple Threat scholarship student, Kelly Konno was my number one idol and I was sure that I too would end up dancing for Janet Jackson one day. When I heard students getting excited about attending Triple Threat this year it reminded me of how much I gained from opportunities like my Triple Threat, Groove Street or Harbour Dance Centre scholarships. These organizations gave me access to teachers who challenged me with new vocabulary and they put me in a room with the best of my peers. Through Triple Threat I experienced a week of private musical theatre training at Randolph Academy and had the opportunity to attend their first ever Hawaii Dance Experience. My experiences at Groove Street paved the way for my time dancing in the Source Dance Company and Harbour Dance Centre went on to give me support to enable the realization of my first two professional productions. Above all, I most realize that these institutions and instructors taught me that my individuality was an attribute to be celebrated. They made clear that my greatest offering to the dance world was the unique nature of an artistry that was particular to me. I haven’t forgotten this, as this truth has taken me to places I never expected possible.
Since my relocation to New York I have ironically spent more time invested in outreach work with BC’s young dancers than ever before. The formation of our annual MOVE: the company Summer Intensive, in addition to creating works for Team Canada and Richmond Academy, reignited a passion for exploring the creativity and capabilities of young artists. In the past year I’ve actually found myself seeking out opportunities to have a hand in opening the minds of the next generation of professional artists. It’s steadily growing into a passion that equals my love for directing professionals.
I believe that there is something so uniquely special about the training of young dancers in British Columbia. Many of my greatest collaborators were groomed in BC’s local schools. One only needs to mention Crystal Pite, Tiffany Tregarthen, Simone Orlando, Celine Gittens and Amber Funk Barton among counless others, to realize how much incredible talent has emerged from the BC studio system. I’ve often wondered what it is that keeps BC consistently producing such evolved young artists. Is the importance placed on ballet training without the tunnel vision focus that it’s the be all and end all of dance? Is it the fact that we still have dance festivals and The Provincials, as well as the dance competition circuit? Is it that we’ve had so many truly great local success stories who’ve undeniably made it, and yet still return to BC to give knowledge and inspiration back to the next wave of movers.
It’s certainly some combination of these factors, among others, but I think that the real secret is that our dance studio ecosystem in BC celebrates the individuality of youth. Children are taught to dance in a group but allowed to grow as soloists. They are taught formalized techniques but are also exposed to improvisation. They are even often encouraged to enter student choreography and music interpretation categories at the festivals.