Genesis School of Dance is a new dance studio that offers affordable and accessible classes to Winnipeg while also keeping God at the centre.

Six Winnipeg artists, Naomi Wiebe, Kristie Sidwall, Chelsea Tielman, Kristie Enns, Michal Goertzen and Jodi Kristjanson have come together to create Winnipeg's newest non-profit dance studio: Genesis School of Dance.

"Me and my colleagues are a group of six women and we are all arts professionals who have a love for Jesus and for dance," says Genesis co-founder, Naomi Wiebe. "We felt a call in our life to use the arts to reach out to others and connect people to God's love and so because we have this common vision, we came together to start a youth and young adult program through Point Douglas Gospel Choir, which is an organization that has a history of already reaching underserved through the arts and telling them about the message of Jesus."

The dance studio is offering a number of dance styles, including musical theatre, jazz, ballet, tap, hip hop, modern rhythmic gymnastics, acro, mix'n'match, creative movement, and funky kids. Genesis School of Dance also offers four specialty teams for students that want to take their training to the next level.

To incorporate God into the studio, Wiebe, along with one of her friends and co-founders, Jodi Kristjanson, says that all dances will be focused on giving glory to God.

"We want to use that art to connect the dancers and also the audience members to the love and the light of Jesus and our shows should just be filled with messages about hope and God's love," says Kristjanson. "We also want to offer in the studio setting an opportunity for teams to grow in their faith through prayer, Bible study, reflection, teaching and also just opportunities for service. We want to provide these opportunities for a young age because we think it's so important for artists to have a chance to connect their artistic pursuit to their faith."

"And our overarching vision is to create meaningful spiritual change through the arts, achieved by offering comprehensive programs that equip dancers to be credible influences in the broader dance community," adds Wiebe.

Genesis School of Dance is a non-profit organization, it also offers programs to help those who struggle to participate in classes with its Outreach and Work4Trade programs.

"We want to make sure that our program is accessible to everyone," says Wiebe. "So, we have a subsidy and scholarship program already and that's for low-income families as well as a work for trade program, but the Outreach Program will be able to address needs beyond financials. We have 20 students who are registered for this and they will receive full sponsorship for their classes but in addition, they'll also get rides, snacks, dance attire, and just any emotional support that they need to participate in dance. Most of them are from downtown or the north end and this is their opportunity to really have it all taken care of and participate just like any other student would be."

"Our Work4Trade program is a super exciting opportunity for us to build community. We are offering families that couldn't normally afford classes the chance to help us out around the studio in exchange for free classes," says Kristjanson. "Some of the jobs include cleaning, admin work and driving and this is a way for us to be really accessible and also a way for us to connect with the entire family, instead of just the students."

Both co-founders are excited for the dance year to begin today, they say that there are already over 100 kids registered for classes. Registrations will be accepted for the entire month of October and anyone interested can register at Genesis School of Dance's website. For anyone with questions, staff will be on-site at the Holy Community Covenant Church (1061 Ellice Avenue) from Monday to Friday, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.


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