As the sun set, a group of local dancers gathered in front of the Legislative Building to lay out mats, dust off their dancing shoes and press “PLAY” on a Bluetooth speaker.
These street sessions are a branch of Vibes YQR and offer an opportunity to freestyle and “vibe,” and give out positive energy.
“What Vibes is to its core is a community builder,” said Vibes leader and full-time graphic designer Eddy Alvaro.
“We offer free dance workshops that range from different styles, so you are always learning stuff. You aren’t gaining a fundamental training but you are gaining quick moves and how to pick up choreography and combos.”
Alvaro began Vibes YQR three years ago. When teaching an adult class, a student who recently moved from Quebec connected with Alvaro and expressed her disappoint in the lack of available adult hip hop.
The pair started brainstorming how they could start a program where attendees could grow their level of dance. They spoke to a local gym, Evolution Fitness East, which allowed them to use the space. From there, Vibes YQR was born.
“Dance in Regina is growing, but not in the sense of size wise, but in the sense of community,” said Alvaro. “There was a bit of divide between studio and street dance and lately it’s been bridging the gap.
“Street dancing is more self-taught dancers who are in the rougher, hip-hop based side of dance, whereas studio dancers are more technically trained and they have a lot of technique and proper form. The biggest bridge and separator would be freestyling.”
High school student Katie Sullivan has been a studio dancer for almost 10 years.
“I started out with ballet, tap and jazz,” said Sullivan. “Then I found hip-hop and dropped everything else.”
Sullivan started attending Vibes workshops two years ago and has been going to as many sessions as she can.
“I enjoy that there is no judgment whatsoever,” Sullivan said. “It is tough to try new things because you are always worried about doing something wrong or if something won’t look good. Here they encourage it, which makes it easier to build off of those starting experiences and develop as a dancer.”
Welcoming dancers of all training backgrounds, Vibes has built a family and impacted many including parents and the leaders themselves.
“From the inside looking out you forget the impact you make on people,” said Alvaro. “Out of the blue I’ll get a message saying, ‘Hey, I just want to say I am thankful and it’s really important what you are doing.’ Getting messages like those reminds you of why we do this stuff.”
Alvaro takes pride in sharing his passion for dance with the community. He hopes Vibes YQR and street sessions will be part of the legacy he leaves behind.
“I am really happy with how things have turned out,” said Alvaro. “It makes me smile to see this community blossoming, and a little bit of an ego stroke to say that I did have a part in it.
“An idea without people is just an idea, but then there is literally everybody here who is making this happen right now. It’s contagious.”