For dancer and actor Maria Anne Grant, performing has always taken a central role in her life.
“I was just a really energetic child, and my parents were like, ‘okay, we’ve got to put her somewhere,’ so they put me in dance,” she says.
As an adult, Grant recognized the gap in dance education for those who wanted to further their training or return to dance after long break periods, and so Drop In Dance Winnipeg was born.
“There wasn’t a lot of options for adults to dance, and if there were, it was just very niche ... you could take burlesque classes or heels classes, or you could join a hip-hop crew, and that was kind of it.”
Before opening her studio, Grant travelled to Vancouver and Australia to further her film-school education.
“Before I started dancing again, I thought I needed some sort of creative outlet, so I got into acting,” she says.
It was during the summer of 2017 that Grant started leaning more into acting, auditioning for roles in film and television, securing her principal role in Syfy’s Channel Zero.
“It usually takes a long time to book that kind of a role, so I was really proud of myself, (but) it was in the middle of filming (when) my dad passed away,” she says.
“Something was missing from my life, so I started dancing again.”
Initially operating out of NAfro Dance Productions in Osborne Village, Grant began teaching drop-in style classes with the help of fellow dancers and teachers Jennifer Jonasson and Davin Furtado.
“We had quite a few brainstorming sessions, the three of us, and they were pretty instrumental in really getting (Drop In Dance Winnipeg) up and running,” Grant says. “They were amazing, but neither of them wanted to be (more involved). They just wanted to teach. They didn’t want to run the thing.”
As her business grew in popularity, Grant opened her permanent studio and settled into her Wolseley home. This is where she now lives with her partner Kevin and their three cats.
“Everything happened at once. My dad died, a week later, we got possession of this house, and a few weeks later, I started the dance stuff.”
Tiger the cat
“She’s very photogenic. She’s got the black around her eyes that just makes her look sad all the time.”
Panda the cat
“That’s Panda … They’re all named after what they look like.”
“I found this house with the moon shutters, and I was like ‘that’s the one!’”
“That one Kevin and I painted together. That was when we first started dating. I was painting a lot, and we went out to the lake one weekend, and I was like, ‘oh, do you want to paint with me?’ So we painted that. I painted the right side, and he painted the left side.”
“That was my Oma’s as well. I told you, it’s like a museum!”
An important date
“That’s the day my dad died, July 10. That was left from our cabin that’s now been sold … I don’t change the date on that.”
“This book I found in the library when my dad was in the Grace Hospice ... and it was the only book there that I thought was funny, so I would read him the text from it.”
Published in Volume 74, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 10, 2019)