ADT Junior Company dancers in Circus Mirandus
ADT Junior Company dancers in Circus Mirandus | Photo by: Moush Sara-John

Alberta Dance Theatre for Young People

By Meghan Power

Alberta Dance Theatre for young people (ADT) connects youth artists with professional choreographers for 10-12 weeks of mentorship and collaborative creation. The result is an annual production created by children, with children, and for children.

As many as 40 youth performers in grades 1-12 create and perform in ADT’s annual dance production. All of ADT’s productions are based on children’s literature and are accompanied by an original, commissioned musical score.


The funding received from CADA helped to support ADT’s 2021 production, Circus Mirandus, a play written by the ADT Youth Artists in collaboration with Co-Artistic Director and General Manager, Alicia Ward. The production was inspired by Cassie Beasley’s original novel of the same title. CADA funding also allowed for ADT to pilot a Junior Company program that would give dancers in grades 1-4 an opportunity to be introduced to the ADT process with reduced rehearsal commitments from the families. During the 12-week program, ADT youth artists also had the option of participating in a weekend intensive—an out-of-town rehearsal experience where youth artists create, dance, and are immersed in an inspiring and creative learning environment. The out-of-town rehearsal experience allows participating youth an even deeper level of growth and learning, and a chance to connect with each other. This intensive experience felt even more important than in years past, in the context of the isolation and disconnection that many of our youth felt during the pandemic.


“This funding was essential,” says Alicia Ward. “It allowed us to offer our weekly Sunday rehearsals for the Junior Company in addition to the weekend intensive. Both opportunities provided time for the dancers to connect with the professional artists who were there to offer their expertise and to connect with their peers. It also meant we were able to pilot the Junior Company without having to worry about budget restrictions, quotas, or having to rely on volunteer time and fundraising. With the success of the pilot, we can now move forward and make the Junior Company program a permanent offering. We’ve seen first-hand the intrinsic value and positive impact of running the Junior Company program at the same time as our Senior Company, and how our youth dancers support each other, and benefit from the support from each youth artists’ family, and how it creates a truly unique, intergenerational learning experience.” 


ADT believes this type of programming will help to lay a strong foundation for youth artists, on their artistic journeys and continue to help them to grow and develop, not only their craft, but also their confidence, creative leadership, and experience. They are helping to support future generations of artists, performers, and creative leaders that will be thriving, creative forces in Alberta’s and Canada’s Arts sector.