To provide an educational forum for dance students and dance educators as they develop an appreciation for the art form of dance through collaborative dance creation, performance and workshops
ONTARIO SECONDARY SCHOOL DANCEFEST has been a registered not-for-profit organization since 2015 and operates with a volunteer Board of Directors. These members along with a dedicated group of teachers, performing artists and volunteers have welcomed organized groups of secondary school students since 2003 who are engaged in curricular dance classes/programs and/or extracurricular dance clubs/teams and their teachers and/or staff advisors. Secondary students attend a wonderful and enriching performing arts experience that empowers their efforts to compose original choreography using a number of dance styles and come to our annual event to share their dances with like-minded students from across Ontario.
OSSDF annually organizes a 3-4 day event to provide a variety of opportunities for secondary dancers and their dance teachers/coaches to broaden their knowledge, creativity and experience through sharing, collaboration, performance, and educational development in a friendly forum. Students share and perform their OWN original choreography before a friendly audience and amazing adjudicators who support and empower their performance and compositional efforts.
OSSDF celebrates the original dance choreography of youth using choices of 10 different dance styles and performing in competitive categories of Novice, Pre-Competitive I, Pre-Competitive II, Competitive I and Competitive II. Although there is an assessment structure that defines the results of student work, all dancers commit to nurturing an environment that encourages positivity and friendly exchanges among all the students that attend from schools across Ontario. We all share the same passion – DANCE - and desire respect and appreciation for the compositions and choreography performed, knowing that the “next steps” from the Adjudicators are to support and encourage the dancers and their performance and compositional efforts. Emphasis is on the Elements of Dance and Choreographic Principles found in the Ontario Dance Curriculum. The Adjudicators are a mix of dance educators and working dance professionals and artists who are familiar with the Dance in Education curriculum and use the rubrics provided by the OSSDF Board of Directors.
The performance and feedback from the Adjudicators is videotaped and audio recorded as the dances are performed. The teachers can access all performances and feedback from the Adjudicators following the event when the dance entries from each school are shared with their respective teacher and uploaded to the cloud by our OSSDF Technical Master, Jordan Hill. Teachers may share these with their students as well as the photos taken by our OSSDF Photographer, Emily Freiburger, so that they may observe, listen and apply their feedback to improve their dances. All videos and photographs taken by OSSDF staff are FREE to the students.
OSSDF Adjudicators will meet with the dancers on stage at six different points during the event, generally prior or following a nutrition break, to share their positive reactions to what they have seen performed on stage. They might also discuss an Element of Dance or a cultural perspective or historical perspective as it might pertain to the dances they have just seen. Each of these times is an opportunity for the judges to bring the broader concepts of Dance as a discipline to the students and provide “teachable moments”! Special Awards are also presented at this time to celebrate some of the outstanding and/or unique creativity demonstrated in the dances performed prior to each Adjudication.
OSSDF encourages our Alumni who are attending post-secondary education to return and volunteer, perform or teach workshops and share their knowledge about what is available at their respective schools and in the surrounding community.
One of the goals of OSSDF is to “Bridge the Gap” with the students in the elementary and post-secondary panel in the region where the event takes place. Therefore, we invite elementary students, especially Grade 7 and 8 students, to attend to observe the dances, stay for a pizza lunch and participate in a workshop in the afternoon for a reasonable fee. We do this to inspire an appreciation for the dance art form and to learn the dance opportunities offered and available in the secondary and post-secondary panels of education. Dance can be a life long activity that provides a creative outlet as well as a strong body and method for improving personal mental health.
To conclude, OSSDF strives to open the lines of communication between high school teachers of Dance in Education classes and after school dance programs; elementary teachers of curricular/extracurricular dance; and, university dance crews. We want to create links for students of all ages to give them choices of how they can continue to support their lifestyle that includes their passion to Dance. Lastly, we want to keep the choices of arts related subjects which includes Dance alive and well in the schools and community.
OSSDF Founder and President