Camilla Gaw,The Heart of Riverdale arts program leader, paints a mural on Feb. 24, in preparation of the art marathon in March. (Melissa Murray/The Heart of Riverdale)

Heart of Riverdale gets set for art marathon

The March 8 event grew out of past dance marathons

What started as an annual dance marathon to raise funds for the Leaping Feats’ dance studio will transform into a full art marathon on March 8.

The marathon will continue to serve as a fundraiser for the Heart of Riverdale Community Centre — which includes the dance studio as well as a long list of art and music programs — as well as help pay for education trips for pre-professional students in dance programs at the community centre.

Half the funds raised will go to the community centre’s ongoing operations with the other half going towards student travel.

The numerous groups — dance organizations, art programs and music programs — that were based out of the community centre recently amalgamated under one Heart of Riverdale banner, executive director Andrea Simpson-Fowler said in a Feb. 24 interview.

With that, officials at the community centre opted to expand the fundraiser marathon to include art and music as well.

Simpson-Fowler explained that while the marathon raises money for the Heart, it also gives those who may be interested in the Heart’s programs a chance to try the centre’s programming. Anyone interested in taking part in the day can sign up for either the junior/intermediate 1 sessions for a $40 pledge or for the intermediate 2/advanced sessions for a minimum $50 pledge.

And while it’s more work to organize the larger event, as Simpson-Fowler said organizing events is “what we do.”

There are prizes for the top fundraisers as well as door prizes with pledge forms available on the Heart’s website. Those who raise certain amounts will also earn goodies — a drawstring bag for those who raise $100; a T-shirt for those who raise $150 and a hoodie for everyone who raises $200.

“A bunch of local businesses pitch in,” Simpson-Fowler said, noting she’s grateful to all who provide prizes.

A pizza lunch is also provided to all participants.

From 9:45 a.m. until 6 p.m. on March 8, the Heart will be bustling with activities in all areas as dance and music workshops are held throughout the day.

Complementing those workshops will be the painting of a community mural in the centre’s play space allowing for all skill levels to take part in a visual arts project.

“The outline (for the mural) is already done,” Simpson-Fowler said, noting her excitement in seeing the finished product.

The mural work will be led by Camilla Gaw, who heads up the Heart’s Art In Action program, where youth from Kindergarten to Grade 7 can explore a variety of artistic mediums.

On the music side of things, Logan Bennett will lead sessions for all levels of musicians from junior to advanced in the Black Box theatre. Bennett heads up a number of music programs at the Heart including the Jam League and Jam Pack Music School as well as teaching individual lessons.

Bennett said his sessions at the March 8 art marathon would be similar to the Jam League and Jam Pack Music School where young musicians learn the fundamentals of music and explore different genres, techniques and more.

As Bennett explained, the sessions allow for the creation of “a lot of on-the-fly music” and that’s exactly what those taking in the March 8 sessions can expect.

“It’ll be a very simple version of that for the younger kids,” he said.

Younger kids will be given a story line to work with in creating music while more advanced musicians will get a chance to learn about improvising and be part of jam sessions.

Bennett said he’s excited that music and visual art are now part of the annual marathon.

“It’s really exciting because it’s indicative of the change that’s been happening at the Heart,” he said.

Music has been part of the Heart programming for about three years, with the visual art programs also being relatively new.

As in previous years, dance students will also spend the day in a number of workshops ranging from hip-hop to contemporary to house and more.

In past years, the dance marathon has seen between 35 and 50 participate in the annual fundraiser. With the addition of visual art and music in the lineup, Simpson-Fowler said she’s hoping it will draw 50 or more to take part.

While money raised from the marathon goes to general operations of the community centre, Simpson-Fowler said the centre is continuing to work on capital plans for the centre.

Among them would be establishing a commercial kitchen which would allow for both the addition of new cooking programs as well as for the sale of food produced at the centre. There are also plans to establish a sewing room at the centre.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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Posters for the dance, art, and music marathon hang in The Heart of Riverdale in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Dancers take a contemporary dance class led by Heather during the Breakdancing Yukon Society’s Annual Dance Marathon Fundraiser at Leaping Feats in Whitehorse on Mar.11, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

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