Not one, but two young girls from Guelph will be representing Canada on the world stage for tap dancing this fall.
Nine-year-old Anisha Chowdhury and her teammate, 11-year-old Nadija Drohan-Brodeur, will attend the International Dance Organization (IDO) World Tap Championships in Riesa, Germany, from Nov. 26 to Nov. 30 — both students of the Emotion Dance Company in Guelph and both representing Team Canada Dance along with 20 others across the country.
Considered the Olympics of dance by many, the IDO has over 250,000 dancers from six continents and awards a gold, bronze and silver medal for each division of a dance.
“It’s a huge honour. I mean, how many children get the opportunity to represent an entire country?” says Anisha’s father, Chayan Chowdhury.
The girls have won several trophies at local competitions such as Terpsichore Dance, Be Dance and Move Dance Competition among many others.
“It makes me feel happy. It makes me feel proud of myself that I've accomplished this and achieved this,” says Anisha who has been dancing since the age of six.
The girls spent the summer practicing nine hours a day every, day and spend three hours a day every week during the school year in preparation for their grand performance where they will represent their beloved country.
“I'm very proud of myself that I achieved something that I thought I would never be able to,” says Drohan-Brodeur who has been dancing since the age of two.
“I've been in many dance competitions but not one as big as this.”
Drohan-Brodeur’s mom, Trish Drohan, says she is glad that her daughter is going outside her comfort zone, adding that competing locally on stage regularly removes the challenge aspect for dancers.
“All of the dancers have a big team and they all excel in different areas. For Nadija and Anisha, their passion is tap, so it's nice to be able to tap with tappers,” says Drohan.
The girls say they have no competitive spirit between them and want each other to succeed side by side.
“I'm glad that we made it together,” says Drohan-Brodeur.
Anisha’s mother, Arpita Bhattacharya, says prior to her daughter excelling in dance, she viewed dance as a recreational activity, not realizing the amount of discipline that goes into it.
“I think the awareness with a competition like the IDO is huge. It really showcases the calibre of talent that's out there,” says Bhattacharya.
She says there’s a long way to go in terms of society’s perspective of dance, adding that the lack of funding available for dance reflects the way society perceives it.
The families of the girls say they spent approximately $5,000 in this past year alone to cover costs of choreography, flights, hotel stays, costumes and food.
And while their dance requires discipline and physical commitment that pushes their tween bodies to the limits, dancing fees are not subsidized by the government like many athletic sports are.
Chowdhury says it falls onto the dedicated dancers and their parents to raise the money themselves, adding that it becomes difficult in terms of fundraising when people don't realize that the dancers do train like athletes, stay out of trouble, stay fit, learn discipline that is reflected in all aspects of life and also learn about food and nutrition at a young age.
“Their chiropractor was like, there is no other sport where you're physically actually tapping on your body,” says Drohan.
“They’ll dance from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and have maybe a half-hour break the entire day.”
Regardless of the lack of funding, the families say that putting the girls in dance is worth every penny.
“Canada has been quite successful in all dance disciplines at the World Championships and this is mainly due to the high standards of training that our local studios offer,” says national director of Team Canada Dance, Bonnie Dyer in a press release.
“It is also great to see the ‘best of the best’ in Canada, dancers from various studios, town and provinces coming together onto one team with one goal — to represent Canada!”
Anisha and Drohan-Brodeur both have GoFundMe pages where they seek sponsorship to cover the hefty cost of representing Team Canada at IDO.