Filled with eMotion

Dance troupe formed at William Lyon Mackenzie CI making leaps and bounds

High school dance team eMotion has got the moves everyone’s looking for.

After winning the Toronto District School Board’s Dare2Dance competition in December, the 11-member dance troupe from William Lyon Mackenzie has been in high demand, dancing for audiences at community events, even showing off their moves for the mayor down at city hall.

Pretty impressive for a group that didn’t exist less than two years ago. In fact, dancing wasn’t even on the radar at the school until 15-year-old dancer Mrigank Mehta came along.

After moving from Dubai to Toronto with his family in fall 2010 and starting grade 9, Mehta answered Visual Arts teacher Martyn Simpson’s call to students interested in creating a dance team. Once Mehta was on board, they assembled a group of 11 members from all grades.

In their first year, eMotion made it to the finals. The near-win made them even more determined to take the title.

“I wanted to make sure that we won so that’s why I did it again for the school,” Mehta said.

It’s no surprise Mehta took up dancing at Mackenzie. He started dancing when he was just six, learning Bollywood moves before teaching himself hip-hop and other styles.

“I tried out different styles every time that’s how I started dancing and I never stopped,” he said. “It’s just my passion.”

The routine that won eMotion the title at Dare2Dance combined acrobatic ballet with hip-hop to tell the story of a girl experiencing feelings of isolation after being bullied.

Mehta said he’s pleased their anti-bullying theme resonates with audiences.

“I think that we had a really good message in our dance and that’s why we were really happy that people saw our message and understood it,” he said.

After winning Dare2Dance, eMotion performed the routine for 9,000 students during an anti-bullying awareness event at Ricoh Coliseum. Then in January, they performed at Roy Thomson Hall for Martin Luther King Day. Even city hall has taken notice of the group’s talent. In February, the troupe was recognized in council chambers and met with Mayor Rob Ford.

Mehta says all their hard work was worth it. Leading up to Dare2Dance, eMotion practised five days a week, in the morning and after school. The win “really boosted our confidence as dancers,” he said.

Though they’re not rehearsing as frequently these days, Mehta says he’s always moving, perfecting his techniques and style in front of a mirror at home.

Sometimes during the lunch hour, Simpson will catch the troupe practising just outside his office, in front of reflective glass display cases.

“They use that as a mirror to see that they’re all in sync,” he says.

Simpson recently submitted to the board a request for a grade 11 dance course. He said initial response has been good, and was waiting for a final approval in late February. He credits the team’s success and diligence with sparking new interest in the artistic medium.

“It certainly did raise the profile of dance in the school.”

About this article:

By: Karolyn Coorsh
Posted: Mar 7 2012 6:23 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto