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The production, "Cinderella."In nearly every country in the world, dance is an essential form of expression. In Canada, Aboriginal peoples have used dance in their celebrations, rituals and ceremonies for thousands of years. As we know it in Alberta, dance is a composite of traditional styles and contemporary instruction, often coexisting to create a diverse community.

Ukrainian dancer, "Vohon Ukrainian Dance Ensemble."Alberta's dance heritage is closely linked to the development of musicians in the province. As dancing was a common form of entertainment in the 1920s and throughout the Second World War, musicians often gathered to provide music for an evening dance. Dances were held in various multi-purpose facilities that might also host a vaudeville or touring minstrel show.

"Vohon Ukrainian Dance Ensemble".Though dancing was a popular way to pass the time, it was considered a frivolity and by the 1940s, organized instruction was still rare. As access to dance instruction was limited, many aspiring dancers were forced to hone their skills abroad. However, the popularity of dance in Alberta was growing, and it was around this time that ballet got a foothold in Alberta's arts scene. The Russian Ballet held some sporadic performances, and due to increasing demand, Canadian ballet companies began to venture westward.

Women's band and dancers.The Banff Centre first introduced ballet classes in 1950. In its inaugural year, 10 students enrolled. A mere decade later, there were over 100 participants. Encouraged by the increased popularity, jazz classes were added in 1960 and 1961. Shortly thereafter, the Centre became the first institution in Canada to teach Labanotation, a written system for recording dance.

Vaudeville act.The province's premier dance company, Alberta Ballet, was founded in 1967 by Dr. Ruth Carse. The first institution of its kind in Western Canada, it remains one of the top dance organizations in the country. Many other disciplines have followed ballet into the provincial spectrum, creating a varied and innovative dance community for all Albertans.

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Linda Adams of the Alberta Dance Alliance talks about the problems of regionalism in Alberta's dance community.
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The performing arts section of this website covers a representative selection from Alberta's dance heritage and includes information on relevant educational institutions and granting facilities.

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