Favorite local dancer
1. Ella Steele
2. Katrina McQuade
3. Jillian Groening
After being in the top three for the Uniter 30’s favourite local dancer category in 2019, Ella Steele was excited to hear she won first place in 2020.
“It feels very nice,” she says. “I’m very grateful that people voted for me.”
Steele is a professional tap dancer who first started learning the genre when she was three years old.
“My mom owns a dance studio in Transcona,” Steele says, “so I got into dance through Doreen Bissett School of Dance.”
At age 15, Steele met her tap-dance mentor, Ryan Foley, who helped her understand the history of tap dance and learn about its connection to jazz music. From there, Steele was presented with many performance opportunities and even travelled abroad to dance.
Despite how COVID-19 threw a wrench in Steele’s dance plans for 2020, she still managed to keep fairly busy. In February, Steele danced in the show Unplugged, put on by a Toronto dance company she’s part of called Rhythm & Sound.
Performance-wise, Unplugged is the only show Steele was able to do this year, but she’s found other ways to keep growing as a dancer.
“This year, I started a pre-professional tap-dance company out of my studio called Language of Rhythm,” she says. “Those kids are really excited about it.”
Steele also participates in weekly online dance classes and workshops. While the situation isn’t ideal, Steele has been able to connect with notable tap dancers, such as Heather Cornell.
“So there’s actually been opportunities,” Steele says. “It’s just different opportunities.”
The main opportunity Steele highlights is the chance to connect more with Winnipeg’s tap community. Steele hopes to deepen that connection even further and merge Winnipeg’s tap-dance community with its jazz community.
“That’s an immediate goal. I’ve got lots of things in the air, but right now that’s been something I’ve been thinking about a lot.”
Published in Volume 75, Number 12 of The Uniter (December 3, 2020)