Did you know that today is International Day of Dance?
At Monogram we are excited to hear about what our team and community members and passionate about, and we have three wonderful baristas working for us who have a particular love and passion for dance! We'd like to take a moment to introduce you to them:
Alissa Van Herk
Alissa is a rock-star barista who seems to know everyone's name and everyone's order! Did you also know she is a professionally trained dancer?!
Alissa started dancing at the age of 3 while following in her older sister’s footsteps in their hometown studio in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. A family move took her to Ottawa where she had the opportunity to perform in Alberta Ballet’s Nutcracker. The following year, she moved to Calgary to attend the Alberta Ballet School where she graduated from the Professional Division, as well as the Professional Graduate Program.
Alissa moved on to dance with Alberta Ballet II, performing with Alberta Ballet, then joining the H/W School of Ballet performing with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.
Alissa has danced across North America and around the UK and Europe. She took a break from ballet when she went back to school, but is hoping to return soon. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with hopes to become a counsellor for dancers.
While no longer pursuing a professional career in ballet, she feels that her many years of dancing taught her perseverance, the value of hard work and discipline. Her favourite thing about dance is how it is a universal form of communication that has brought people from around the world together, not unlike the way coffee unites us.
You can catch Alexandria working and dancing her way though a barista shift once a week, and helping us get you delicious coffee by doing her thing at the roastery! If you watch closely, you can see her shuffling or tapping her feet to an upbeat jazz song!
She didn’t grow up dancing, so her dance journey began at 21 when she was introduced to swing dancing. She was drawn to it because it had the perfect amount of structure and rules and she enjoyed being taught how to get rhythm and movement into the body. She loves the amount of freedom, improvisation, and expression involved in Swing Dance.
To Alexandria, dance is really all about connection. She currently does lindy hop, charleston, vernacular solo jazz, blues, and dabbles in a few other swing dance styles. All these styles are very grounded and conversational. They allow connection to the body, the land, the music, and dance partners in such a unique way.
She hasn't been able to do much dancing during the pandemic, but now that dancing is back up and running again, she has a strong attachment to blues in particular, finding that it epitomizes all of the things missed out on over the past two years.
Alexandria is currently choreographing and dancing routine for DJD’s Black and White ball, regularly DJing social dances, and hoping to begin lessons in the near future!
You can catch Julia slingin' coffee, humming to herself and dancing her way through cafe shifts. Julia has many artistic talents, and one of her huge passions is swing dance!
Julia didn't grow up dancing, and thought she had two left feet until she discovered dance in 2016. What was once something fun to do in her spare time turned into an unquenchable passion for everything swing dance and jazz.
She performs with the Calgary based vernacular jazz chorus girl group 'The Sugar Sweets', is a part of a swing dance troop, teaches lessons through Fly Right Swing, and has been to many workshops and exchanges nationally and internationally honing her dancing skills.
Julia dances Lindy Hop, Charleston, Blues, and has a particular love of Balboa. She also loves teaching dance, and has been an instructor in London ON, Calgary AB, and a guest instructor in Kitchener/Waterloo ON.
She has really felt the impacts of the pandemic, and not being able to social dance was a huge struggle. She is grateful for dance starting back up again, and can be seen teaching and social dancing every Friday night at Fly Right Swing. She is currently working on co-choreographing a dance routine for DJD's Black and White Ball coming up in June.
Do you dance? If so, what style? What kind of music makes you want to get up and dance? We'd love to hear about your dance experience! Let us know in the comments below!