Hat and chair dances empower, she says

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On Sunday mornings at the Alberta Ballet, women aged 30 through 60s occupy a dance studio where they learn sassy cabaret dance routines. When dancing the choreographies they learned, the women perform with strong stances and poses as they involve the props of chairs, hats and canes.

 They continue to do their routines with fierce facial expressions as they admire themselves in the surrounding mirrors.

The beginner Pink Sugar Dance class is for ladies 16 and older and offered by DanceOgraphy. Along with cabaret, Julianna Enciu, creator and instructor, teaches numerous other dance styles such as jazz, salsa, hip-hop and funk.

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“Once you have kids you don’t feel sexy,” said Enciu, thinking about her Sunday dance class, which mostly consists of mothers.Mother and daughter, Meltem and Marilyn Tarkan, have been loyal students at DanceOgraphy for two years.
Photo by: Kian Sumalpong

She recalls how some of her students started the class with what she calls a “closed off body and mind.”

“That renewed confidence, it helps within my marriage. My husband is so happy to see me going every week. He’s excited because I’m excited,” said Marilyn Tarkan, a student at Pink Sugar Dance.

Being a part-time preschool teacher and a full-time mother of two, Tarkan spoke of the importance of having stamina when at home with her family. A weekly dance class gives Tarkan a refreshing sense of zest, she says.

“I think it’s important to be a good model for our children. I can try something new and I can learn it so that I can connect with them when they’re learning so many new things in life,” Tarkan said, smiling at her six-year-old daughter Meltem.

She says her daughter sometimes joins the rest of the ladies and learns their choreography for fun. The mother and daughter occasionally enjoy practicing the dance routines at their home, she shared.

Tarkan says she and her daughter both enjoy Enciu as an instructor. DanceOgraphy also offers classes for kids from four to seven. So along with Meltem, other girls around her age took a class with Enciu two years ago learning similar dance styles her mother has been taught.

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Julianna Enciu shows off her sassy moves as she leads a hat and chair choreography.

Photo by: Kian Sumalpong

Enciu is a “bundle of positive energy,” Tarkan said, adding that Enciu’s motivating personality is the reason why she has been dancing with the company for two years.

Enciu’s goal is to keep people up and moving instead of being insecure and not knowing where to begin, since starting is the hardest thing to do, she said.

“When you add a sexy, feel-good component in dance class, people are going to want to come back because they like how they feel because of what they see,” Enciu said, explaining the importance of the cabaret and burlesque component of her dance lessons.

With Enciu’s confidence-boosting attitude, the majority of the class, including Tarkan, willingly performed at University of Calgary two years ago for a year-end showcase. Three different dance styles were performed, with the women uniformly dressed in black outfits with tuxedo-printed shirts. They wore their usual black hats to perform a stylized jazz, disco and Latin dance.

“That’s an amazing treat she has — to work with a group and taking on a new challenge,” said Tarkan.

Feeling exhilarated from the performance and experiencing a sense of camaraderie with the other women, Tarkan was inspired and courageously performed solo for a variety show held at her workplace, the Society for Treatment of Autism. Showing her talent to her colleagues, Tarkan performed a disco dance routine to Andrea True Connection’s “More, More, More,” that she learned from Enciu’s class.

Tarkan said her readiness to perform again is due to Enciu’s push and how she opened up the possibilities to all the women in her class.

As a mother and wife, Tarkan values the positive outcome Pink Sugar Dance has given her.

Tarkan said, “When you have that energy to come home and not feel like you need to fall asleep and you want to engage and do things, then that’s so worth it.”


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