A passion for dance

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Students returned to school Tuesday morning to learn reading, writing and arithmetic, all part of the Alberta Curriculum, but classes of a different sort have are ready to begin at Morinville’s Dance Connection.

Owner Nicole Timtim-Ramirez said the school offers classes in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, modern, lyrical and musical theatre, the latter a combination of singing, dancing and acting. She and her six teachers are ready for another season of teaching people how to move and express themselves through dance.

“A number of them have been with the studio for a very long time,” Timtim-Ramirez said of her teachers, adding she has owned the studio for about seven years and taught there for many years before that. “I was teaching here at Dance Connection even before I owned the studio. We’ve got a teacher that was actually a dancer at Dance Connection and is now a teacher.”

It is a progression from student to instructor or to professional dancer Timtim-Ramirez hopes students pick up on and will use to drive their own future goals.

“We are here to instill that love of dance and to provide a positive environment where kids can come here and feel safe and the parents know the kids are here learning something,” she said.

While students come to classes with different motivations, interests and goals, Timtim-Ramirez said she is driven in her own passion by the movement of dance and the ability of dance to move someone.

“I love the ability, if you are passionate about it, for someone to watch you and feel that passion, and kind of get a sense of emotion,” Timtim-Ramirez said. “I’ve seen some dance pieces that are emotional and can really tug at heart strings and really move someone. I think that sometimes, if you’ve got good choreography, a story can be told and I think it’s just beautiful. I think it’s beautiful to take a piece of music and have that music be interpreted in a dancer’s body and through choreography and costuming. It’s a beautiful fine art.”

Timtim-Ramirez began dancing at the age of three and has training in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, and modern. “I’ve taken all dance disciplines,” she said. “I danced and trained in Edmonton and I’ve been able to travel in Alberta for festivals and competitions, BC, Toronto, New York and Japan. I’ve been doing it my whole life.”

She said the transition from dancer to dance teacher was a natural progression. With a degree in education and a love of children, Timtim-Ramirez feels her current career and business path is a perfect fit. “Transitioning for me was the next step and felt natural,” she said.

Dance a great opportunity for youth

The business owner / dance teacher said dance is a positive thing for youth to get involved in, an opportunity to combine confidence building, social skills and good, healthy exercise. “What we do in the studio is quite different from their experience learning in a classroom,” she said. “They come into the studio, learn dance, and we work towards performances, competitions and festivals. So students learn that we are learning this routine and now I have to feel confident in knowing what I’m doing because I’m going to take it to a stage and perform in front of other people.”

Televison shows like So You Think You Can Dance and movies that have dance as a focus are drawing more people to take up the art form. Timtim-Ramirez said hip hop is currently the school’s most popular discipline both with youth and adult students.

Although males are outnumbered by female students in all disciplines, she hopes more males will take classes this year. “Seeing males in movies and TV shows, we are hoping that is moving us away from what is generally thought of as male dancers being only ballet dancers wearing tights,” she said. “I think having these new role models showing you are a guy, you can dance is a good thing. Come on and join us. It is a good thing.”

Registrations are still being taken for all ages and disciplines. More information can be found on the studio’s website at danceconnectioninc.com. Dance Connection is located on 100 Street in downtown Morinville.

Above: Nicole Timtim-Ramirez leaps in her studio while demonstrating some hip hop dance moves. Hip hop is one of the most popular forms of dance taught at Dance Connections in Morinville. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

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