Any parent can attest to the mountains of clothes left in the wake of a child’s rapidly expanding body. The $75 pair of Ugg boots that looked so cute two weeks ago now crunch toes and cause tears. And so the mountains grow.
The issue sparked 16-year-old dancer Caleigh Hunter’s project, Heels in Harmony, an initiative that looks to provide free dance shoes to people in need across the globe. Eight years later, she has collected and shared hundreds of shoes with dancers from Victoria to Scotland and beyond.
“The vision is that (Heels in Harmony) will be able to support dancers in all capacities needed,” says the 24-year-old dance and fitness instructor currently living in Sidney.
Physical wellness aside, Hunter believes that dance can bring a deeper sense of one’s body and self in a way that words simply cannot facilitate.
She talks of a recent dance class with a group of young children that involved an exercise requiring everyone to act like jellyfish. When one of the girls said that she liked being a jellyfish because she didn’t feel like her heart was exploding Hunter was taken aback.
“To hear this three-year-old basically say that she was feeling stressed, and then to hear that being a jellyfish relieved that stress, was really powerful coming from someone that is so little.”
Hunter says this escape from reality is one of the many benefits dance can offer to anyone who cares to try.
“Dancers are so fortunate because they never really lose that stage (of imagination) because they’re always creating,” she explains. “Even if they’re 65 they’re still imagining.”
Heels in Harmony’s most recent donation was to a dance studio located on East Hastings Street in Vancouver where a clash of cultures and economic backgrounds often causes unrest.
“Some of the kids aren’t underprivileged and some of them are,” Hunter says. “But hopefully providing shoes will bridge that gap so that people don’t know and they’re able to just go to dance class, participate, and be who they are without that prejudgment before they even begin.”
Although she admits that dance is not a top priority for many underprivileged people, this sharing of shoes is simply her way of giving back to her art and community.
On Sunday April 21, at 1 p.m., Heels in Harmony will host its second-annual flash mob, beginning in Beacon Hill Park and ending at Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Anyone who wishes to join is welcome, regardless of experience.
“(The flash mob) provides a chance for people to step out of their comfort zone, meet new dancers and create that community,” Hunter says. “I think having that creative space and being able to go out of your body and mind is really beneficial. Everyone should try it.”
For details regarding the flash mob or how to donate go to heelsinharmony.com, or find them on Facebook at facebook.com/heelsinharmony and Twitter at @heelsinharmony.