Dancers rehearse for the DGB show in the Commons Theatre. The sold out show raised about $15,000 for Candelighters.

By Lauren Khalil

The Commons Theatre hosted Dancer’s Give Back (DGB) on Feb. 28, officially making the charity an international effort.

One hundred and fifty Ottawa area dancers from 11 studios and three dance companies put their talents together for a night of choreographed dancing, with proceeds going to Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Support Program.  The DGB founder, Ali Dietz, as well as a family touched by the Candlelighters charity were among the special guests that attended.

The non-profit organization originated in Buffalo, NY in 2008 by Dietz and her mother Mary Alice, and was brought to Ottawa by Jessica Shaw.  Shaw got the idea at a dance competition after speaking with Julie LaMancuso about DGB in her hometown of Buffalo.

Its goal is to inspire social action through dance and bring the Ottawa dance community together.

DGB was founded to unite a community and use talents for the greater good, according to Dietz.

“Through the collaboration of Buffalo and Ottawa, we hope to see this event grow exponentially from year to year,” Dietz said.

The evening consisted of 26 choreographed dances, whereby the competitive relationship between studios was forgotten.

“There is so much talent in this city but the only time we get to see each other is at competitions,” said Shaw.  “I thought it would be great to get together to simply appreciate each other and find opportunities for our dancers to be on stage together without the element of competition.”

Through rehearsals, studios clapped for one another as they came together for a common cause.

“Thank you for clapping.  We’re here to support each other.  It’s the only time you’ll see it,” said Shaw.

“It’s pretty amazing because we’re never together. I wish we could do it more often,” said Maddy Salhamy, a dancer for Greta Leeming Studio of Dance.

The audience consisted mainly of Ottawa’s dance families to support the cause and their dancers.

“The talent reflects the cause.  The stories the dancers are telling tell the slogan, ‘Together we dance louder,’” said Mandy Newell, a first year student in Algonquin’s collaborative nursing program.

Newell has family ties to Denise Smith Dance Studios in Manotick, where she taught aerobics.

“It’s going to flourish and take off.  Studios in Ottawa are tight knit,” said Newell.

Overall, about $15,000 was raised at the event.