My Week with Peggy Baker: The Grand Presents Chorus

I had a full circle moment this summer.

A little background, I grew up dancing (ballet, jazz, tap, modern — you name it), it was a huge part of my life and four years ago when I was working as a journalist in Toronto, I had the privilege of interviewing highly acclaimed contemporary dancer Peggy Baker. I walked away from my interview with Peggy feeling filled with energy and inspiration. Her warmth was contagious and as a former dancer I felt moved to get involved in dance again but wasn’t sure how to go about it.

Fast forward four years and I find out that Peggy Baker is coming to Kingston for a residency hosted by the Ontario Dances Program. The call is for “adventurous movers between ages 16 to 75 to take part in a contemporary dance performance presented at the Grand Theatre.” 

I get excited as I read the description and mention it to a friend, “you HAVE to do it!” she exclaims. She’s right. What an opportunity. The program consists of one workshop in July and a week in August of classes every night 6:00-9:30 pm with a performance at the end of the week at The Grand Theatre. And it’s all free. Attendance to the workshop and classes? Free. Tickets to the show? Free.

What are the chances that this celebrated choreographer is traveling to Kingston to share her art and anyone can participate free of charge? I sign up for the workshop.

The best thing about this opportunity is the diverse group of people that show up to participate: students, retirees, dancers, professionals, the list goes on and on. The one thing we all have in common is our enthusiasm to learn from Peggy and make ourselves completely vulnerable to this experience.

This week has reiterated something I often say which is stepping out of your comfort zone is where personal growth happens. I haven’t learned choreography or performed for an audience in years but it’s been validating learning and conquering each sequence and I’m sure once the performance is over I’ll be proud.

This show is something special. Not only does it involve choreography by Peggy but also a voice component led by vocal director Fides Krucker, an innovative interpreter of vocal music for thirty years. The audience will see Peggy’s choreography mixed with a vocal chorus led by Fides that tells a story. And another treat is one of the dancers, Sarah, from Peggy’s company will be joining us on stage and performing her own solo.

This unique opportunity is not new to The Grand Theatre, in fact, this is Peggy’s third year leading this initiative (I am late to the party but happy I arrived!).

If you’re free Saturday night, come watch!


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