Among the many highlights of the local holiday entertainment scene is the Minto Dance Academy’s annual Christmas demonstration. For the event, set this year for Dec. 16 and 17, the dancers move upstairs from the academy’s studio setting to the Harriston Town Hall Theatre, where the seats are always packed with friends and family members.
The Christmas show is one of two demonstrations held by MDA each year, offering parents a chance to see what the students have been working on in their regular weekly classes. The school also holds a spring demonstration, which is replaced on alternate years with a full recital production.
The academy has about 115 students learning a wide range of dance disciplines, including ballet, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, lyrical and highland. A musical theatre class, which combines elements of dance and drama, is also offered. All the sessions are held at the MDA dance studio in Harriston, with the exception of highland classes, which were moved off site to Norwell District Secondary School this year, due to a busy studio schedule.
“The place is jumping,” commented MDA President Heather Day.
The school has three instructors: Elizabeth Piesz (ballet), Erin Cardey (jazz, hip hop) and Jennifer Memmott (highland and jazz).
While the academy offers Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) ballet programs for those interested in the exam stream, Day stresses the focus of the school is recreational.
“We’re not a competitive school. We’re not into dance competitions and even the RAD stream is strictly recreational. No one is compelled to take exams,” she explained.
Students can begin taking “Baby Ballerina” classes as young as age three, with many continuing right through their high school years. There really isn’t an upper age limit.
“If someone is 22 and they want to come back and get that Grade 8 ballet class, they’re welcome,” notes Day.
The school also offers adult Stretch and Strengthen sessions, led by the ballet instructor, each Friday evening. The sessions are held at the studio, located on the ground floor of the Harriston Town Hall Theatre, 68, Elora Street, each Friday evening from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Participation is on a drop-in basis, at a cost of only $5 per class.
The academy holds registration each spring for classes that begin in the fall.
Anyone interested in more information on the Minto Dance Academy may contact Heather Day at 519 338-5817.