The Moose Jaw Festival of Dance (MJFD) is a non-profit, registered charity, fully supported by a volunteer membership. The general purpose of the Moose Jaw Festival of Dance is “to advance, promote and to encourage generally the study and practices of the art of Dance, either alone or in conjunction with the related arts.” Our goal is to offer a fun, friendly competition, and to give all participants and their teachers valuable learning opportunities. In 2012, the Moose Jaw Festival of Dance was entering its 54th year and decided to name and brand their annual competition as Dance Inspirations. Dance Inspirations features a merit based marking system, professional industry-based adjudicators, and scholarships and awards in excess of $30,000.
At Dance Inspirations, performers of all ages and levels are able to display their talents and use this positive experience to improve their skill and self-confidence. We want to celebrate all achievements and inspire young dancers to realize their full potential.
Every year, we celebrate the end of Dance Inspirations with the Dance Challenge event. Dance Challenge is a finale event which showcases group performances with the highest marks from Dance Inspirations. These performances are displayed to the community as they compete for group scholarships. The monetary awards presented allow for enhancement of student dance education in the form of workshops or other training activities. The Dance Challenge features the same merit based marking system as Dance Inspirations, all performances are marked by all adjudicators and final standings are determined by an average mark.
Dance Inspirations 2020 will be held May 6th to 10th. We hope to see you then!!
In 1959, Matt Shepperd, President of the Moose Jaw Festival of Music Association decided to present the possibilities of Ballet being incorporated into the Music Festival. A meeting was held with the following members of the Moose Jaw Festival of Music Association present: Matt Shepperd (President), Dr. Gale Glenn (Vice President), Helen Tait (Secretary/Treasurer), May Shepperd, Frank Godley, and Betty Godley. Frank Godley was appointed chairman of the Ballet section of the Music Festival. Helen Tait and Betty Godley were to contact the dance teachers and get their reaction to this new venture. Local dance teacher, Doris Sitter, was instrumental in arranging meetings with the Dance teachers in the province. Mrs. T. R. Whittet, a Saskatoon dance teacher and member of the Saskatchewan Association of Music Festivals, and Mr. Arnold Spohr of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, helped set up the first dance event.
At 9:00 am, April 4th, 1960, at A. E. Peacock Collegiate, the Moose Jaw Festival of Music officially welcomed Ballet as part of its competitions. There were 93 entries and the program book was one sheet, sold for 10 cents. The Ballet section ran for one day with morning, afternoon, and evening sessions. Music was played live, by piano or Highland pipers. Jim Clouser, a young and talented dancer from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, was the first adjudicator. The event was considered a complete success and it was decided to continue the dance portion of the Music Festival.
In 1961, the Moose Jaw Festival of Music officially became the “Moose Jaw Festival of Music and Ballet”. Extra pages were inserted into the music program and the Ballet section ran for two days.
Tap was added to the program in 1965. The Festival continued to grow in popularity over the coming years. By 1968 it was running five days with 618 entries, 31 awards, and 9 scholarships.
In 1969 a category for jazz dancing was included in the program. With the addition of a variable-speed record player, directions such as “play my music just a wee bit faster” tended to panic the sound personnel.
Due to growing popularity, a separate Ballet executive was formed within the Association in 1971. The Ballet executive took over all planning and operations except for the financing. A separate program was printed as well. The Music Festival and Ballet Festival began taking place on separate weeks in 1972.
Eventually, the Dance Festival had grown so much that it became clear that it needed to completely separate from the Music Festival. The Music and Dance sections separated by mutual agreement in 1977 and the Moose Jaw Festival of Dance was incorporated.
In 1984 the Dance Festival held its 25th anniversary. There were 1260 entries and the event ran for 9 full days. Dancers came from Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and all parts of Saskatchewan.
In 1997 the Moose Jaw Festival of Dance held its biggest competition with 1516 entries and 1400 dancers. Crowds were lined up outside the building and down the street as people tried to get a seat. This lead the committee to try assigned seating for the following year.
In 2006 our dance festival ran for seven days with 1,200 entries in dance categories of ballet, tap, jazz, broadway, variety & hip hop. We had dancers participating from twenty four dance studios from all points of Saskatchewan plus Alberta.
The Moose Jaw Festival of Dance celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2009. To mark the occasion, the usual “Festival Finale” became the Dance Challenge. A chance to win large cash prizes, studios were allowed to choose a select few groups to enter the Dance Challenge. In 2017, Dance Challenge entry rules were changed to allow each studio’s highest marked groups only. Since it’s inception in 2009, the Dance Challenge has been a highlight of the Moose Jaw Festival of Dance and a great celebration of everyone’s hard work.
For the 54th anniversary in 2013, the Moose Jaw Festival of Dance re-branded their event to “Dance Inspirations” as it is known today. Still keeping the high calibre performance, highly qualified adjudicators, and scholarships and awards that the Festival has always been known for, Dance Inspirations added new awards, younger age categories, and a new marking system.
To celebrate their 60th anniversary in 2019, the Moose Jaw Festival of Dance committee invested in a Rosco Marley floor for the stage in Centennial Auditorium. The new floor provides a safe and reliable surface to perform on and many dancers, dance teachers, and parents have given committee members wonderful feedback on this purchase.
2020 will bring more excitement to Dance Inspirations and the Moose Jaw Festival of Dance as Centennial Auditorium undergoes a large renovation. Renovations to the Auditorium will include: upgrades to the stage and backstage area, sound & lighting upgrades, balcony upgrade, and of course new seats! We look forward to seeing this renovation be completed. The renovations combined with the new stage floor will certainly provide a better Festival experience for many years to come.
Dance Inspirations is adjudicated by highly qualified people brought in from all over Canada and the United States. These people have always been impressed with the quality of the dancers, the high standards, and discipline of their dance training. After seeing the talent that Saskatchewan had to offer, two of our former adjudicators put Saskatchewan on the Disney audition tour.
Dance Inspirations is totally organized and operated by volunteers. As soon as Dance Inspirations ends one year, planning begins for the following year. The Moose Jaw Festival of Dance Committee is a membership of dance parents and former dance parents. The committee dedicates countless hours to planning each year’s event, Dance Inspirations and the Moose Jaw Festival of Dance would certainly not be what it is today without all of the contributions of past and present committee members. During Festival week, a team of over 100 volunteers help the committee make sure everything runs smoothly. We also enlist two local figure skating clubs to help during the week. The Prairie Edge Skate Club looks after door sales and security; the Moose Jaw Skate Club runs the concession.
We are proud to offer in excess of 150 awards (including trophies and scholarships), all donated, to those who excel or show promise in each category. Over $30,000 in scholarships and awards was given out in 2019. The Moose Jaw Festival of Dance awards some of the highest scholarship amounts in Canada.
We quote from the Digest Report of the Federation of Canadian Musical Festivals: “Competition is essential in the conduct of a Festival. No non-competitive means can raise the same standard of performance to the same degree to create the same interest in striving to attain the highest levels of performance and appreciation. Competition is a means to an end and is not to be stressed to the exclusion of the Festival spirit. It is a means of pacing one another on the road to excellence and is to arise above rivalry.”
The Festival spirit may be defined as the joy of participating with others in seeking the highest levels in the art of dance.
If you would like more information about the Moose Jaw Festival of Dance Committee please check out our most recent Constitution and Bylaws here: MJFD Constitution. And remember, we always have room for new members!