East Side Dance Festival Celebrates 10th Anniversary

May. 24, 2023

​​​​​​The East Side Dance Festival celebrated its tenth anniversary this year by hosting a three-day dance festival in May, awarding over $100,000 in scholarships to talented students and winning a City of Calgary Community Achievement in the Arts Award.


What is the East Side Dance Festival Society?​

The East Side Dance Festival Society was formed in 2013 by four Calgary high school teachers with the original goal of providing performance opportunities for marginalized youth. Ten years later, the festival has grown to 13 CBE and CSSD schools and 400 students. The society provides:

  • ​a two-day teacher professional development conference;
  • free after-school programs for schools that do not have access to dance education;
  • bursaries and scholarships for students;
  • two days of workshops for participating schools;
  • funding for participating schools to hire diverse artists; and,
  • a three-day festival for participating schools to showcase their work. ​

The East Side Dance Festival showcases the incredible talent and passion that both public school teachers and students possess and demonstrates outstanding student excellence and achievement.  

More than $100,000 in Scholarships Awarded

Over the 2023 festival, the society collaborated with its community partners (Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, illFX Education, Pulse Dance Studios, Dance Code, The Masses, UV Soul, Soul Connexion and Madhuban Performing Arts) to award over $100,000 in scholarships to deserving students. These scholarships enable students to continue their dance training outside of their high school dance programs and provides them with experience and mentorship within the professional dance industry in Calgary. 

Teacher volunteers nominated for City of Calgary Community Achievement Award​​

To make this year even more special, the East Side Dance Festival Society’s teacher volunteers were nominated for and won the City of Calgary’s Community Achievement in the Arts Award. The teacher volunteers were thrilled to receive this recognition at the ceremony​ on June 14. 

“We’ve been on a real journey over the past ten years,” said Kelly Brownlee, co-chair of the East Side Dance Festival Society. “Everyone involved in our organization, the teachers, our community partners and our students, have demonstrated incredible resilience, creativity, and dedication to keeping the East Side Dance Festival alive and well. We have so much to celebrate and so much to look forward to.”

Participating Teachers​

The East Side Dance Festival is run by volunteer teachers from the CBE and CSSD and represents a unique collaboration between passionate teachers from different school boards. The participating teachers and schools for the 2022-23 season are:

  • ​Kelsey McMahon-Stoker (C​o-Chair, Forest Lawn High School)
  • Kelly Brownlee (Co-Chair, Father Lacombe High School)
  • Elise Janz (Forest Lawn High School)
  • Jaclyn Kennedy (James Fowler High School)
  • Jessica Nottell (Lester B. Pearson High School)
  • Kaylee Garden (Ian Bazalgette Junior High)
  • Deanne Walsh (Bowness High School)
  • Laurel Lepine (Nelson Mandela High School)
  • Julie Oppenheim (Nelson Mandela High School)
  • Janelle Ferrera (Crossing Park School)
  • Tyler Miller (Joane Cardinal Schubert High School)
  • Karyn Leavitt (David Thompson School)
  • Lisa O’Brien (St. Francis High School)
  • Robin Dominey (All Saints High School)
  • Amany Haddad (Our Lady of the Rockies High School)
  • Phillip Ha (Bishop McNally High School). 

Please visit the East Side Dance Fe​stival Society to learn more.

Or follow them on Instagram @eastsidedanceyyc​