A Celtic Christmas Show

Chelsea ComeauAnnual holiday traditions are alive and well in Halifax, Nova Scotia, including tonight’s Celtic Christmas Show. Recently we spoke with Chelsea Comeau of the Acadian Step Dancers, who will be performing in this year’s seasonal extravaganza.

What are your own roots?
I am an Acadian from Clare, Nova Scotia.

How, when and why did you get involved with dance?
Step dancing has always been a big part of our culture down home in Clare, Nova Scotia. Most of the girls are put into dance by the age of 4 or 5 and if they like it, they continue to learn it. At the age of 6, my mother put me in step dancing to see if I liked it and I really enjoyed it. I’ve been step dancing ever since. At the age of 12 I was accepted into a group called La Baie en Joie and danced with them for 6 years. After the dancers in La Baie en Joie are done high school, their time with the group is over because it would be hard to continue dancing with everyone moving away from town. I’ve continued to dance since being part of La Baie en Joie because I love performing so much. It’s truly the best feeling when you step out on a stage and are able to do what you love for others to enjoy.

Are they the same reasons you continue to do it today?
Yes they are the same reasons I dance today. I love performing for audiences to enjoy.

What have been some career highlights?
I was fortunate enough to travel a lot during my dancing career. I’ve danced in Germany, France, the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, Parliament Hill and the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo 5 times, along with other various shows around Nova Scotia. Those were moments and memories I will never forget. Traveling with La Baie en Joie was like traveling with a large family to me. It was always a pleasure to dance with all the girls from the group and it was always a fun adventure whenever we did travel together.

What are the challenges involved?
One of the biggest challenges with the group we have today here in Halifax is getting everyone in the same place to be able to practice. Because half of us live in Halifax and the other half live in Clare, it’s not easy to get us all together in one place. But even with us being apart, we are still able to practice a few times a month to create and complete our dances.

What are the rewards?
The rewards of dancing is to be able to go out on stage in front of an audience and do what you love doing for their enjoyment. It is the best feeling when someone comes up to you after a show and tells you how much they enjoyed watching it. I feel that dancing with the girls in our group is definitely a reward. What’s better then going out on stage with friends to do what we love together.

When and why did you get involved with the Acadian Step Dancers?
Last year, Zeph Caissie asked us to be part of his Celtic Christmas Show and that’s when we formed the small group of Acadian Step Dancers. We formed the group because it had been a couple years since we’d all danced together and we missed that a lot. When we got the opportunity to come together and dance again, we couldn’t say no.

Who are your participants, and how & why do they get involved?
The participants in the group today are, Arielle Comeau, Christiane Theriault, Rachel Amirault, Mylene Comeau and I. I asked them to be a part of the group because I knew they enjoyed performing as much as I did. We all have a love for dance and I thought it would be great to get back together because we used to dance together in the group La Baie en Joie.

Where does the troupe typically perform?
Since we’ve only been together as a group for a year, we haven’t been able to perform other than in the Celtic Christmas Show. But I would love to continue doing shows in Halifax with this group.

What are your thoughts on the state of Celtic dance today?
I don’t know about the state here in Halifax, but from what I can see in Clare, it isn’t as popular as it used to be when I first started dancing. There is definitely still an interest, just not as many people are doing it.

From your perspective, are young people still interested?
With the style of step dancing I do, I notice the younger generation moving more towards modern dance, hip hop, lyrical, but I think there will always be an interest in step dancing because it is such a beautiful style of dance.

What’s next on your dancing agenda?
The next thing on my dancing agenda is to hopefully put together a small show to be able to perform it in Halifax next year with our group.