Message from the Director

In the words of the Orchesis Dance founder and Alberta dance pioneer, Dorothy Harris,

“Dance belongs to everyone.”

It is Dorothy’s philosophy that makes it possible for anyone with the desire to dance or create, to partake in the dance program known as Orchesis at the University of Alberta.

In 1993, I arrived in Edmonton, following an 18-year professional dance performing and teaching career in New York City, Philadelphia, Seattle, St Louis and touring other US cities. I came to pursue graduate studies at the University of Alberta. Although I never had the opportunity to dance with Dorothy or take her classes, I had the pleasure of her friendship and the benefit of her keen eye. I received her astute review and constructive criticism, through personal and professional encounters. Her creative mark of excellence is on every dance course I am privileged to teach in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation. The program of dance offered at the U of A has Dorothy written into it. She believed and taught that dance is for everyone.

In 1995, the Orchesis Dance Program (then called the Group), Dorothy's legacy, became my responsibility to direct. I continue to think of her ideas and philosophy when I take the lead for dance and often ask myself, “Is the choice I am making congruous with Dorothy’s original philosophy?”

Orchesis endured and even flourished for 30 years before I arrived and now that Orchesis is over 50 years old, I believe the enduring appeal of the group is due to her beliefs and the dedication to make dance accessible for all. For this reason, it is a joy and an honor to lead the Orchesis Dance Program

Dorothy Harris has made dance education a major focus in Edmonton and perhaps all of Alberta. I am humbled by her conviction to something so basic as the human right to dance. For those who have been influenced by her and who continue to carry on our interpretation of her work, may we hope to fill those large dance shoes for as many years as she has carried the torch. Dorothy Harris is an original, a true Edmonton, Alberta legacy. Dance Motif 2015 paid homage to this dance giant for 50 years of dance at the University of Alberta.

Tamara Bliss

Tamara Bliss