Tracee Smith has been dancing most of her life. She was named one of Canada’s 50 most celebrated artists by The Canada Council for the Arts and was the first dancer to ever perform at Rideau Hall for the Governor General.
“I was very honoured,” said Tracee. “I believe that dance is who I am deep down. It was nice to be appreciated for that work.”
In 2007, Tracee started the organization Outside Looking In, a high school accredited program for Indigenous youth to take part in long-term, intensive education through dance.
“We work in a lot of communities where most kids do drop out of school after grade eight,” said Tracee.
“When you add in dance and music to the school day, a lot of the time that will get kids walking back in the door.”
Outside Looking In hires the industry’s top choreographers to work with the students in the area of mainstream urban dance. These professionals travel to different communities across the country, instructing and building a routine with every visit.
“I think showing kids how to have a long-term goal and achieve it is very, very important,” says Tracee.
“What I think is really important is that they’re achieving self-esteem and self confidence.”
Once students fulfill the academic and attendance requirements of the program, they then get the opportunity to join other youth from across Canada for two weeks in Toronto, where they prepare for a culminating performance at the Sony Centre for Performing Arts.
Bradley Monias, a dance student performing in the show for the second time says, “It’s a step closer to my dreams, my dreams are becoming more and more of a reality than was six-years ago.”
The show runs Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the Sony Center for the Performing Arts.