Many of you have told us that our values can be felt when you walk through the door, and many of you have encouraged us to tell our story so that others can hear us, and appreciate what is actually going on behind the scene.
So first of all, thank you from the bottom of our heart to those who support us tirelessly and give meaning to everything we do.
Here is the story of our last 4 years.
A solid start!
Cat’s Corner has been around since 1998. Founded by Fred Ngo, then taken over by Debbie Carman (with the help of Alain Wong and Owen Hortop) in 2010, we -Meghan Gilmore and Anaïs Sékiné-, became the new owners and directors in 2019. Neither of us had previous business experience so it was a year of intense learning. From the very beginning, we worked to ensure that our collective values were present in every initiative. Our Fridays had a great line-up of music, with DJs outdoing themselves, and live music became a bigger part of our classes, festivals and regular dances. We organized two of the most beautiful events of the last years (CCX XXI and Vernacular Spectacular), where joy was a spiritual experience and swing was our mass. The dance was transmitted in the language of its origins and posterity, grounded and generous. Food also became a staple of our community gatherings and all of you helped us enact our hospitality values at our monthly Potluck Social. And because jazz is intergenerational by nature, a brand new children’s dance program was launched on Saturday mornings.
Resilience and resources
In 2020, everything came to a sudden halt and slowly gave way to introspection.
That’s when we were able to begin the most radical changes Cat’s Corner has seen to date, and continue our journey of community grounding, to honor the Elders, their realities, their experiences, their life lessons.
But this quest for movement and change is not new.
Thanks to educational consultant extraordinaire Sylwia Bielec, Cat’s Corner has enjoyed a culture of reflective practice since 2005. Teachers regularly gather to discuss our experiences, which allows us to continuously learn and deepen our skills as educators. That is why, in 2013, we had the conditions in place to start critically reviewing our collective pedagogy. We worked to integrate a sense of oral tradition and break away from the legacy of cultural appropriation of Black American dance, an ongoing effort. The educational revolution continues with our multi-level courses, and our efforts to empower dancers in their learning journey (more on that to come).
Our accomplishments over the past 3 years
In 2020, we worked on our physical, economic and legal structure:
In 2021, we moved from our studio on St Laurent Boulevard to Pointe St Charles, in the building of a community organization, Partageons l’Espoir. Our goal: dance for the Montreal community at large!
In 2022, we established our circular economy so that access to dance could become a solidarity enterprise. Our goal: dance at the service of living together, for mental health and collective well-being.
In 2023, to complete the circle, we finally became an NPO. Our goal: an enterprise for the community by the community, from all points of view!
A community from head to toe
Over the past 3 years, we have gradually reinstated many of our pillars: the classes, the social dance, the live music, the collective celebration, the potlucks, the children’s program… This year will bring many more challenges in our new governance. We will be sure to share them with you and include you in our upcoming adventures.
For now, nothing changes. Our classes and parties continue to fund the operation of the organization and our circular economy. Soon we will build new partnerships, apply for grants to create new projects, increase accessibility to our activities and continue to produce high quality educational opportunities.
We are now the “Cat’s Corner Community”. Come and make your contribution. Welcome home!