The history of Guelph Dance
by Guelph Dance
Guelph Dance had its humble start in 1998, when its first-ever Festival was held. In 2016, it will celebrate its 18th season, and the organization is stronger than ever!
Founders Janet Johnson and Catrina von Radecki began the organization, formerly called the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, when they arrived in Guelph (Catrina from Montreal, Janet from Toronto) and found there was no established dance community here. Ever the arts entrepreneurs, they decided to create one, with the belief that dancers should be able to live, dance, and perform outside major metropolitan areas.
As dancers, choreographers, and teachers, Janet and Catrina did not have a lot of experience running a dance-presenting organization. Immediately they looked to the Guelph Arts Council (GAC) for guidance. GAC provided training, organizational assistance, and served as a fiscal sponsor before Guelph Dance received its charitable status. Even as Guelph Dance has grown and become a major player in the arts scene in Guelph, as well as across Canada, it has continued to benefit from the information and services GAC provides – from its online calendar, to asking its staff about best practices, to sharing office space.
Today, Guelph Dance offers a four-day Festival, featuring new and established contemporary dance artists from across Canada (and at times from abroad) performing and teaching in venues including the River Run Centre, Exhibition Park, and smaller studio spaces. It started the Local Initiatives project to ensure that local dance artists are included in the Festival and encouraged to be co-participants in growing the Guelph dance community.
Guelph Dance’s other presentations include the Youth Moves series, which presents youth dance companies from across Southern Ontario performing in a shared, professionally produced concert at River Run; the CSA Nooner Series, a co-presentation of professional dance with the Central Student Association at the University of Guelph; and ongoing co-presentations with Hillside Festival, Guelph Jazz Festival, Guelph Film Festival, and Eden Mills Writers’ Festival (collectively known as the “Fab 5”). Guelph Dance also offers several outreach programs, including the very popular Arts Explosion Camps in March and July, and a Workshop-in-Schools
Guelph Dance is indebted to GAC for all it has done for the organization, and perhaps most importantly, for fostering a rich and strong arts environment in Guelph that has helped all of the artists and arts organization here to thrive.
Thank you, Guelph Dance, for helping us to celebrate our 40th anniversary, and for all you do to make Guelph a rich artistic community!