Kaiti Perras was an inspiring young dancer in the Calgary community. To celebrate her, Kaiti’s family is sharing her passion with students in our city.

“It gave Kaiti so much confidence to dance in front of people,” says her father, Gregg Perras. “It was a big part of her life.”

In 2014, the Perras family established the Kaiti Perras Love of Dance Memorial Fund through EducationMatters. The fund supports Calgary students by introducing them to dance and creating opportunities for dancers who might not otherwise have the chance to experience formal dance instruction.

“What better way to give back than to support dancers throughout the Calgary area and in Calgary schools,” Gregg says. “And particularly, help out dancers that can’t afford to dance at dance studios like Kaiti got to dance at.”

This year, through the fund, Kaiti’s family chose to support the East Side Dance Festival which brings together over 250 students from schools across Eastern Calgary. The festival is a celebration of dance, with students participating in two days of workshops with professional dancers and staging two evening performances.

Many of the students at the festival do not have the financial support to access studio dance time on their own, and in some cases, it is their first realization that they can pursue a career in the arts.

“It is really just about kids who need a chance to dance,” says Gregg. “It played right into the fund. It was easy to choose them this year.”

“I really liked the fact that there are workshops as part of it.” Says Kaiti’s mother, Shannon Miller. “It gave the kids a lot more opportunity to dig deep into dance and see how much they enjoy it.”

The evening performances, which took place May 16 and 17 at Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, were an amazing opportunity for students to showcase their skills.

“They were all incredible,” says Shannon. “You could see their enthusiasm and their excitement to be given the opportunity and they just looked like they were having a lot of fun.”

“It was amazing to see how they went from one dance to another and how they could transform from being hip-hop, to contemporary, to ballet. It’s incredible how they can switch,” says Gregg.

While it is not a contest, dance groups from different schools were given awards from an accomplished panel of judges to celebrate choreography, entertainment, rythym and synchronization.

To cap it all off, the Perras family was given the honour of presenting the Love in Dance Award, in memorial of Kaiti, to a school of their choice. They selected Father Lacombe High School.

In 2019, The Kaiti Perras Love of Dance Memorial Fund will support another exciting dance initiative in Calgary schools.

“We can’t wait to see the applications for next year,” say Gregg and Shannon.

To learn more about how you can support the Kaiti Perras Love of Dance Memorial Fund click here

Have a dance initiative in mind for Calgary students? Learn how to apply for support from the Kaiti Perras Love of Dance Memorial Fund.