This week, I had the good fortune to be invited to the Globe and Mail’s Canada Future Forward Summit, the event that ends their 175th anniversary of the founding of the paper. It was a series of panels and discussions about a wide array of topics, from the opening keynote on the future of democracy given by former Supreme Court Justice, the Honourable Rosalie Abella, to the future of Indigenous enterprise and entrepreneurship, to the future of work, the future of education, the future of agriculture, the future of cities, closing with an inspiring keynote on the future of civic engagement delivered by the remarkable Lieutenant-General (ret.) Romeo Dallaire.
The panels themselves were well worthwhile, exploring many facets and angles on what will continue to make Canada a jewel among nations into the future. What struck me, however, was the thoughtful diversity the Globe and Mail organizers created in the conference structure. The moderators were a cross-section of Globe columnists with balanced representation of gender and colour. The panelists were even more diverse. I was paying attention to this, since many conferences are dominated by – I’m sorry to say this – white males, and often old, white males. Not this one. The Globe started by creating panels that were gender balanced to begin with. They then ensured that there was a balance of intersectional gender and colour, indigenous and non-first-nations, urban, small towns, and rural, with representation literally from sea to sea to sea. I have never been to a conference that had the amount of diversity that truly represents Canada, in order to hear the voices of Canada reflecting on our collective future.
It occurs to me that our dance community represents an analogous sort of diversity. As I look at our weekly Sidewalk Salsa party (each Thursday, from 9:20 to 11:30 p.m. – or later), I see a diversity that reflects the marvellous mosaic that is Toronto. Of course we have Latinos/as and non, shades from very light to very dark, multiple languages, first nations and non-North American descent, and people visiting Toronto from many countries from every continent (although, no representation from Antarctica, now that I think about it). We are collectively dancing dances from an Afro-Cuban tradition with styles originating among many countries. The styles themselves continue to evolve, with influences from other dance forms informing the ideas that express the individual creativity of the participants.
I choose not to engage in the on-again, off-again debates over dance and cultural appropriation, except to say that no dancer that I have ever known has sought fame or fortune by claiming an origin story of a dance genre as their own. After that, no dance style danced socially today is unadulterated, without influences from many and multiple sources. On the other hand, cultural celebration in the diversity of dance and dancers? One hundred percent. Come see for yourself, either on the Sidewalk on Thursday evening, or when we…
See you on the dance floor.