Dance classes occupy the Artist’s Co-op in the Waterfront Mall
by Peggy Miles
If I asked you to list some Summerside cultural spaces, you’d probably rhyme off the obvious—the Harbourfront Theatre, College of Piping, Wyatt Heritage Properties. But you may neglect to mention one of the community’s newest venues, the Artist’s Co-op at the Waterfront Place Shopping Centre.
The Artist’s Co-op has been in existence for about a year and is used primarily as a dance studio by three separate dance instructors. The space itself has a high ceiling, hardwood floors and a large mirror that runs the entire length of one wall. When you walk into the space, your footsteps echo around the room.
Even though it’s smack dab in the middle of a shopping centre, the place radiates an artistic vibe. No wonder, with three very accomplished dance instructors and their students filling the space virtually every day.
I dropped by one Saturday to witness a group of approximately 30 adolescent girls warming up to the sound of bagpipe music. They were here for a one-day workshop hosted by highland dance instructor Tony Cargill. Cargill is a four-time world champion who first began instructing at his mother’s dance school in Arbroath, Scotland, where he is originally from. Cargill has taught (and continues to teach) workshops across North America.
While the other instructors mostly draw students from the local community Cargill’s students come from across the Maritimes and beyond. Whether it’s for a two day workshop or to study on a more regular basis, his students are willing to travel in order to train with him.
Step dance instructor and Summerside native Jennifer Carson is also a part of things here at the Artist’s Co-op. She has been dancing since 1991, began instructing in 2000, and is having students experience success at Maritime dance competitions.
Carson says the Waterfront Mall location is “fantastic” and “provides the dancers which a huge working space which is ideal for choreography and allows the parents to peruse the stores while their kids are dancing, which is nice for those that travel from surrounding communities for lessons.”
Studio space is also shared by Kashena Bartlett and her dance company, Dance Virtuosa. Bartlett works with all ages and teaches a variety of dance disciplines including jazz, hip hop and introduction to dance. Bartlett is a graduate of the professional training program at DancEast Dance Centre de Danse in Moncton, and joined their faculty as an instructor after completing her studies there. She has taught dance to hundreds of dancers and athletes.