Cats Corner Blues Troupe Performance – Winter 2013

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The second iteration of having a blues troupe in Montréal concluded with a performance in Montreal’s own event – Bagels and Blues. I really felt like the team gelled well together this time around but we certainly had some challenges that we had to deal with – troupe members missing practices, complications with the formations and technique, and even having one person drop out of the team two weeks before the event. I had to fill in that missing slot and admittedly I was probably the worst one there heh.

In any case I still had a great time teaching the group and I think the end product was pretty enjoyable to perform.

– Randy

Performance at Montreal Bagel and Blues:

Same on the night before at Cats Corner:

Owen Hortop on Taking the Plunge

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While I was shooting portrait shots of Owen, I found out that he had recently made a life altering decision to move from the world of academia and finance to full time dance instruction. Admittedly, my immediate reaction was, “whoa, are you sure? Dancers are hobo poor! What if you get injured or get attacked by a brown bear? What is your back-up plan?”.

However, the more he told me about how he came to that decision in his life, the more it sounded like it was less a decision than a calling. There was nothing else in the world he would rather be doing besides teaching and dancing, it was in Owen’s DNA! What’s really interesting for me was to hear that instead of dipping his toes in the shallow end, he just went full on cannon-ball dove right into the deep end. Major props has to be given up for that kind of risk-taking that I’m sure many of us (including myself) would love to do perhaps one day.

As you may or may not know, Owen teaches lindy hop classes at Cats Corner but also recently started a shag troupe. Knowing how hard it was to start a blues troupe in Toronto and Montréal form scratch first hand, I can only imagine the logistics and promotion challenges of starting a shag troupe. Yet, he was able to do it and now it happens every Sunday afternoon at the studio.

That is why I love our dance community so much and how I’m lucky to be able to travel for my dance and work life. I meet so many uniquely interesting people that have this crazy drive to not only succeed but also have the uncanny ability to really focus on what would make them happy.

Instead of trying to fully re-tell Owen’s story, I would just suggest you stop on by his blog: http://stompoff.blogspot.ca/. He has some really interesting posts about dance, life, and the culmination of dance-life.

Randy

Olivia Bowman on Being Debbie-Light

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Olivia Bowman

Chances are, if you made it to Cats Corner during the past month or so, you might have spotted Olivia Bowman manning a clipboard and walking around the studio with more intent than usual. That is because Olivia has been filling the role of studio manager at Cats Corner while Head Feline herself, Debbie Carman, was out gallivanting around in South Korea (*shakes fist*).

Jokingly calling herself, “Debbie-Light”, Olivia managed a lot of the behind the scenes stuff that we, as dancers, often take for granted – answering emails, preparing all the classes, financials of all the students (read: making sure they pay!), weekly announcements, and the list goes on and on.

“I just tried really hard to just get to the studio and get as much stuff done as possible before anyone shows up”, says Olivia, “even though a lot of the stuff that Debbie does, we weren’t able to do (accounting and bills), a lot of the work was continually answering people’s question about the studio. I had a lot fun answering questions in both english and french.”

As you would imagine for a dance studio – a inquiries are from people without a slightest clue about dancing, let alone a dance so niche like lindy hop. Often times these people are also shopping around trying to decide the best place for them to take lessons from. This is where Olivia really shines – “if they are trying to choose between studios, the thing that is more likely [in choosing one over the other] is the social experience. I tried conveying that whenever I talked to anybody that this is indeed the place to hang out with nice people”.

Moving from her native Australia to Montréal, Olivia’s story of how she ended up in Montréal is particularly interesting to me because it is a story I’ve been hearing quite a lot in the past year – dancers traveling to Montréal to visit or stay for a little bit and then ending up just moving here. In fact, this sounds eerily similar to my own particular situation. Even with the crazyness that is winter here in Quebec, a lot of my current friends in the scene were also dancers who decided to specifically move after visiting. In Olivia’s case, she traded in her nice job in academic administration back home for the uncertainty of Montreal. In her own words, she quite possibly have picked the “hardest place in Canada to work [if you are not a native french speaker].”

“I left home and didn’t really know where I would end up. I knew I was stopping in Montreal for a couple of weeks and after that time period I pretty much said ‘YAH I want to come back’. The reasons why I wanted to leave home were because I needed a change and needed experiences that I wasn’t just getting at home. And here I am!”

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Randy