But before all that happens I wanted to post something that has nothing to do with houses, trees, or the fair treatment of insects (I get the hankering to do that sometimes). This is an entry I wrote while manning the Feats Festival of Dance blog back in July 2013. It's about the illustrious Dorothy Harris – Edmonton dance pioneer and guest of honour at this weekend's fiftieth anniversary gala for University of Alberta organization Orchesis. The blog I originally wrote the following for is no longer in existence, so I thought I'd give it a second life and once again send a big thank you into the universe for Orchesis, Dorothy Harris and the magnificent art form that is dance.
Because the University of Alberta's Orchesis has been such an important part of my own life, I wanted the first "Reflections" post to focus on Dorothy Harris—the dance group's founder. I had the pleasure of meeting Dorothy at an awards luncheon, where she regaled me with tales from her past lives—and I use the plural here because, when it comes to dance, she's done it all. Performer, dance educator, dance advocate—Dorothy is the reason Orchesis is nearing its fiftieth birthday and, because of what she created, modern dance at the U of A continues to be a positive force for students, alumni, staff and the larger community.
After finding a husband in the young man who took care of Orchesis' music (she laughed as she told me, "I married an Arkansan!"), Dorothy headed to Edmonton for a job with the University of Alberta's Office of the Registrar. But dance quickly called her back when an opening arose in the Faculty of Physical Education. In 1964, Dorothy began an Orchesis dance group at the U of A and credits Maury Van Vliet, the Faculty of Physical Education's Dean at the time, for his support of dance education. "He really turned me loose and said 'go ahead.'"
|Dorothy (far left) with a late 1960s Orchesis class.|
|A page from the program for|
Orchesis' Dance Motif 1972.
And now for something I think is pretty darn cool... While visiting the "Dance Dungeon" (a storage room at the U of A where the Orchesis archives are kept) with Orchesis' current director Tamara Bliss, I was able to obtain a video clip from Dance Motif 1972. The older Motif performances have yet to be digitized, which means I got to dust off my VCR (and if you're reading this and don't know what a VCR is... go ask your parents). I filmed the following video with a digital camera as it played on my TV screen, so please excuse the quality. Still, I think it's worth viewing, particularly in the spirit of this year's Feats Festival's theme. So, take a gander—and reflect for a little while.