Meet Haley Shewciw of Griesbach Dance Company
By Eliza Barlow
Haley Shewciw can vividly picture her four-year-old self in a little black spider costume, waiting backstage at the Jubilee Auditorium, her dance recital moments away.
She was in tears, and having serious doubts about whether she could overcome her shyness and fear and take the stage with the rest of her dance group. Her dance teacher told her she didn’t have to do it, but added, “You’re part of the team, and we need you.”
Those words made the difference, and Shewciw somehow found the courage. “I remembered my steps, and coming off the stage, I had confidence.”
Shewciw’s experience as a small child in that north Edmonton community dance group inspired a love of dance that led her to Victoria School of the Arts, where she competitively danced her way through junior high, and a one-year stint on the Edmonton Eskimos Cheer Team after she graduated from Eastglen High School. She decided to pursue a career in marketing, earning a marketing diploma from NAIT and finding success in that field. But her desire to spread the joy of dance always remained in the back of her mind.
Now, almost 30 years after that formative recital at the Jubilee, Shewciw is bringing community dance to Griesbach with her new Griesbach Dance Company.
She’s spending the summer getting the word out and collecting registrations, with dance classes – including ballet, jazz/lyrical and hip hop – for kids three to 12 to begin this fall at Major General Griesbach School.
A lifelong northsider, Shewciw, 33, is thrilled to be putting down roots in Griesbach – she, her husband and young son Ben are moving into a new Griesbach home in August. She also got better acquainted with some of the neighbourhood’s children during her two years as a volunteer coach for community soccer.
“The time has finally come and bringing my love for dance to the community is a dream come true,” she says.
Shewciw hopes to inspire the same confidence in children as she found through dance.
“What I took away from dance – I was a super shy kid, an only child, and I totally came out of my shell,” she says.
“It just makes you feel good. It just makes me happy. I can perform, I can express myself – my form of communication is through dance.”
Shewciw also wants hers to be a truly community dance program.
“The main thing is, I started off in non-competitive dance and that’s why I wanted this to be non-competitive,” she says. “I think at this age, they have their whole lives to be competitive. This is about performing in the community.”
With that in mind, she has plans for Griesbach’s little dancers to perform for the seniors at the CapitalCare Kipnes Centre for Veterans this season. Shewciw currently works part-time in marketing and communications for the CapitalCare Foundation.
Shewciw isn’t sure yet whether she’ll be personally teaching any of the classes at first. She already has one instructor on board, her cousin Jessica, a former instructor at Variations dance academy, which once operated in Griesbach – coincidentally, on the same piece of land where Shewciw’s new house is being built. She’s looking to hire more dance instructors, and would love to hear from anyone in the community with a dance background who’s interested in part-time casual work.
To find out more, visit griesbachdancecompany.com.
Eliza Barlow is a Griesbach resident and one heck of a talented writer whose work often graces the pages of Avenue Magazine.