Animateur work gives dancer pride in her province

By: Peter Brass January, 2012

Creating art is usually a personal experience for an artist. The process of creation usually occurs in studios out of sight, which often results in work that can be shared with the public.

When she was hired by SaskCulture as one of four Culture Days Animateurs, Darlene Williams, a dancer and choreographer, needed to step out of the studio and get on the road and share the creative process with others in the province. Williams visited seven rural communities, as well as Saskatoon, in the four months leading up to Culture Days. Her main task was to engage communities and organizations in the Culture Days movement.

Williams had previous experience with Culture Days. In 2010, her dance company, The White Birch Dance Company, had given a performance in Rose Valley. Now as an Animateur, Williams took the opportunity to include those she met in a creative process. “I encouraged them to talk about their own cultural and artistic activities and how they came to do what they do,” she says.

“I used a ‘word art’ project as a spring board, and asked workshop participants to share with each other how their cultural work impacts the communities in which they live. In some locations, I engaged participants to take the project one step further and "move" their word art.” Williams was able to demonstrate Animateur work gives dancer pride in her province just how culture can be celebrated and how important it is.

“It was so clear in meeting with people in very small communities that they really understand how culture builds communities,” she notes. “They realize that if they don't do something their community might not be as vibrant. Most have a great deal of pride in their community’s artistic and cultural accomplishments.

Williams enjoyed her work helping support communities with Culture Days preparations. “I loved being immersed in rural Saskatchewan over the past six months,” she says. “The Animateur experience provided me with a greater feeling of being connected to all of Saskatchewan as a whole. I am even more proud to live in Saskatchewan after being part of Culture Days in Saskatchewan.”

Williams says, “The Animateur Program was a great way to demonstrate Sask- Culture's sincere care for all artists all across the province. I heard over and over again how grateful people were that I came to their community to meet them and to see what they do.”

Moving forward, Williams plans to continue, “Teaching ballet, choreographing and looking/finding ways in which to connect with the arts and cultural community provincially.”