Emily Rowe was fourteen when she joined the Dandelion Dance Company, and the experience marked a turning point for the now seventeen-year-old Ottawa high school student. “Dandelion has changed my life,” she says simply.
Dandelion Dance is a local non-profit, charitable organization that uses dance to forge connection and inclusivity. It is set apart from other dance organizations in that it does not focus on ability, but rather creativity, approaching each member holistically and helping them to develop emotionally and socially.
The girls who belong to the company create the dance pieces collectively. They conceive the work, produce, practice and perform it in front of live audiences and support each other throughout the process.
Almost all the dance pieces have a social message of some kind – about the environment, poverty, acceptance and empathy to name just a few – and Emily acknowledges that this is deliberate. “The most powerful project in my opinion is Unapologetic Beauty, where we worked to encourage a positive body image for young women,” she says.
“We don’t just put on a pretty show, it’s not the dance you normally see in society,” continues Emily. “We are genuine social activists. We go out into the world to make change – through education, empowerment, volunteering, being there for someone else – our motto is that we are spreading the seeds of change through movement.”
Diversity is a key element at Dandelion. “Everyone at Dandelion has had such different life experiences, living situations or family backgrounds,” explains Emily, who also sits as one of two youth representatives on the Dandelion Dance Board of Directors. The differing backgrounds allow the girls to raise awareness, both to each other and with their audience – about a variety of social justice issues that are important to them.
Emily has a lifetime of opportunities ahead of her. She feels that the lessons learned through Dandelion Dance Company will help her make a bigger impact on her community, and on her world, than she ever would have imagined before she joined the group.
“Dandelion has opened my mind and educated me about so many things I may not have otherwise had the opportunity to know about,” she says, adding, “And I’ve learned not to be afraid. I’ve learned to go after the things I want in life and to seek out opportunities – Dandelion is a great space which lets you wholeheartedly be yourself.”
To learn more about Dandelion, their audition process or their performances, visit online at: dandeliondancecompany.ca.