Below is a series of six collective images of the All Abilities Dance Group, in spring 2021 creating dance together online.

Each collective image glues together screenshots of different moments of dancers’ movements, to create a shared image that transcends timing. The image descriptions add metaphors to many images.

Click here to skip ahead to the images.

Credits & Acknowledgment

Dancers: Andrea Van Rheenen, Heath Birkholz, James Williams, Janice Laurence, Joanne Cuffe, Julianna Reti, Lea Collins, Lyrica Sherwood, Shaylyn Allen, Zola Auld.

Most of the dancers are based in the homelands of the Lekwungen (Esquimalt and Songhees) and W̱SÁNEĆ Nations, and a few dancers are beyond this island, in the territories of the We Wai Kai, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, and on the amiskwaciy-wâskahikan (Beaver Hills House) the traditional meeting ground for many Indigenous peoples, including the Nehiyawak (Cree), Nakawē (Saulteaux), Nakota Sioux, Niitsitapi (Blackfoot), and the Métis Peoples.

Photo credit: All Abilities Dance Group / montage assembled by Joanne Cuffe.

Image description introductory notes (optional)

An overall description written by the group is: nine wonderful folks, in nine wonderful frames, doing nine wonderful moves in their own wonderful ways.

Optional details: Each dancer is in a rectangular frame, lined up 3 by 3. Seated and standing dancers are of various gender identities and in their 20s to 60s. Often only from the waist up or shoulders up is visible in many dancers’ frames. Behind each dancer is part of a room in their home, such as a sunny window, a couch or a doorway.

1) Open-hearted coast

Nine dancers improvise with arms or hands. Full image description is below.

Image description: An assortment of open-hearted movements is described here using imaginary objects, as if the group was by the ocean. Shaylyn shapes a sand sculpture. Julianna admires whales in the distance. Heath holds up a small octopus. Lea’s elbow points up like a fin. Janice floats on her back over a big wave. Zola hugs a surfboard. Andrea swims while signing ‘I love you’, which involves straightening a pinkie, index finger and thumb while bending the other two fingers with palm forwards. Lyrica is bringing a kayak to you. The sign language interpreter blocks the midday sun from her face.

2) Hearts

Nine dancers improvise with arms or hands. Full image description is below.

Image description: Dancers are creating heart shapes; some hearts are with hands, such as knocking knuckles together while connecting thumb tips, and some hearts are larger with arms curving above the head.

3) Gusting elbows

Nine dancers lift their elbows upwards.

Image description: The dancers are like a forest of trees caught in the wind. Everyone’s elbows are bent, and their hands gust upwards like different types of leaves. The dancers’ trunks are dressed in purples, blues, black and salmon pink.

4) Vibrant chaos

Nine dancers move arms in various directions.

Image description: It is as if the wind is pushing each dancer’s unique movement in a different direction: lifting up, looming down, long arms blurring right, legs curving left, fingers unfurling forwards, forehead retreating to the back, a multidirectional swirl in the middle, and in the bottom right a still hand is shaped like claws outside a wooden cabin.

5) Salad

Nine dancers each block their face with a quirky hand shape.

Image description: Each dancer is creatively blocking part or all of their face using one or two hands. The quirky hand shapes are like a salad with distinct textures and shapes: a cherry tomato, giant spinach, avocado, some arugula, dried cranberry, sprouts, leafy lettuce, and whatever your favourite ingredient is. The options of vinaigrette are sweet and spicy, or tangy.

6) Smiles

Nine dancers smile at us.

Image description: The dancers all face us. Many have big open smiles and a few have gentle expressions. It is like the group is smelling cookies that have just come out of the oven. The way each person is spaced within their frame means that in the combined image the group outlines a heart shape.


CRD logo

Much gratitude to the CRD Arts & Culture Support Service and CRD Arts Commission for supporting the project.

The Spring 2021 dance group was in collaboration with Burnside Gorge Community Association and LifeStreams Online – Garth Homer Society.