For the National Centre for Dance Therapy, despite the challenges we all faced, 2021 proved to be a successful year. Over 650 people, with special needs or coming from marginalized or racialized communities, have danced and moved, with the support of our dance professors and dance therapists.
The pandemic, and the measures taken to protect the health of our community, have forced us to be creative and flexible. Our professionals have managed to adapt their plan every time there was a quarantine, a change in format, from in-person to virtual and vice versa, or an update of the rules concerning touch, accessories, social distancing. The resilience and patience of our participants and professionals have convinced us even more of the importance of dance for our physical and emotional well-being.
Thanks to the invaluable support of our partners, we were able to offer in-person services to 16 organizations. These include 9 schools for children and teenagers with special needs, a long-term care centre, a day centre of the Centre Jeunesse de Montréal, a community organization for people with an intellectual disability, a residence for asylum seekers and refugees and two residences for adults with an intellectual disability.
Other partnerships have allowed those who cannot join in person (for accessibility or health issues) to benefit from our virtual dance interventions. Thus, thanks to 11 partners, who have supported and encouraged us and who were able to involve their respective communities, we could work with young adults on the spectrum, adults and seniors with intellectual disabilities, people with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, without forgetting the children from schools in Northern Canada.
When I think of the past year, I cannot forget our adapted dance and dance therapy classes for the public, which, in virtual or in-person format, have allowed us to reach an even wider public. These services were complemented by a brand-new section of our website, with ten exercise dance videos that everyone can do from home!
And this summer, what a pleasure it was to welcome the participants to our summer camps in dance and creative arts. Three weeks of virtual camps have given teenagers on the spectrum the opportunity to dance, express themselves and socialize. Then, after a two-year break (caused by the pandemic), we have opened our studios to the members of the Montreal Association for the Intellectually Handicapped, who attended three weeks of camps.
In July, we also had the honour of seeing again, in-person or in a video conference, the students of the third cohort of the Alternate Route, our professional training program in dance therapy. To them, this summer marked the end of their training and an exciting new beginning as dance therapy interns.
Following the auditions we held in November, with a fully Canadian selection committee, a fourth cohort of students has already been selected and is now getting ready to begin the training in July. To them, I wish to make the most of this journey!
Always in terms of training, we fulfilled our mission to offer continuing education opportunities: not only did we host 6 free webinars, we also organized a series of virtual events to help aspiring dance therapists enter the job market. Over 60 people participated, in addition to those who looked at the recordings on our website.
And now, back to work for the new year, hoping that it brings positive and beautiful things to us all.
Manager, National Centre for Dance Therapy