New moves and new friends: Fiona finds a second home at Dance with Alana

Fiona Tapp is a British Elementary School Teacher, who has called Ottawa home for the past 5 years. As a native Londoner, she tries to explore and enjoy Ottawa as a tourist, and so far is pretty impressed with this “tiny but brilliant” city!

Dance with Alana is located at 1800 Bank Street

This past Sunday night saw me putting on my glad rags and heading on over to Dance with Alana studios at their fabulous — and still somewhat new — digs at 1800 Bank Street for an evening of dance. The night involved both performance and viewing pleasure, plus some yummy treats and possibly the nicest people in Ottawa!

I have been attending classes at DWA for a year-and-a-half now, and as well as learning the basics of Jazz, Bollywood and my all-time favourite, Burlesque, I have also grown in confidence, sass and made the most amazing friends.

When I first signed up for classes, I was looking for a new hobby, some exercise and the chance to learn some feather boa tricks. I did not expect it to grow into one of the most important and pleasurable activities in my calendar. But as I quickly learned, when you dance with a person, you come to know them in a way quite unlike any other.

I have learned so much in the last year-and-a-half, including how to bump, how to remove stockings without falling on your face and a host of other parlour tricks. But possibly the most important and life-altering skill that has been bestowed upon me by my fellow dancers and our amazing teachers, has been how to feel so sick — so stomach-churningly nervous — at the thought of going out onto a stage, in front of a crowd, and then doing it anyway and loving every minute of it. That dancers’ high cannot be beat!

On this particular evening, students showcased what they had learned in the previous semester in an amazing set of performances. The breadth of dance genre was apparent as dancers from Burlesque, Flamenco, Hip Hop, Salsa, West Coast Swing, Bollywood, Tap and Bellydance demonstrated their moves, stage presence and personalities.

The dancers showed such unbridled enthusiasm and sheer love of dance that I found myself mentally noting down the different dance styles I wanted to try out, come winter registration time. I especially enjoyed the hip hop routine led by the charismatic Frank Shapcott, the whole group just looked like they were having a blast!

Photo credit: One_Glass_Eye, via Flickr

There were also some performances from children, and it was touching to see their confidence and joy.

After I enjoyed the plethora of potluck goodies, it was time for my group to present their routine. As a group, we have really grown and have danced at quite a few venues, so our nervousness was not as piqued as it has been in the past.

We danced an energetic little number wearing pink and black fringe which we had all painstakingly sewed in the weeks running up to the party — Burlesque, as I have learned, is not for the craft shy!

After our routine, it was a quick change for me to prepare for my solo — a burlesque number I had designed myself to Kings of Leon’s  “Be Somebody.” My alter ego was a secretary/librarian finishing up for the day, and the routine involved a lot of humour, including madly typing on an invisible typewriter and removing and then retying a necktie.

I felt amazing while I was performing and somewhat insanely altered some of the choreography whilst dancing. The reaction of the wonderful dance community at DWA — and my husband’s huge smile — were the main reasons I felt so empowered. They really supported me and loved me up!

Dance with Alana is a great place to come to learn to dance or to perfect your moves if you already dance and if that where it ends for you then you have still won, but for me it is so much more.

DWA is where I found the most amazing women who have greatly enriched my life in the last year or so, from Alana, the most gracious owner and namesake, to the amazing teachers and everyone of my fellow “saucy posse” bombshells. One of our beloved bombshells is moving away, starting a new life far from us, and I think I speak for all of us when I say we are more than a little heartbroken.

It was a night of laughter, applause and dance — does life get any better??

Thanks, Fiona! Dance with Alana’s winter schedule is now up, with classes starting on January 9th.