Performing Dance Arts (www.PerformingDanceArts.ca), Toronto’s leading dance studio for children of all skill levels, is weighing in on South African firefighters dancing in an Edmonton airport.

On Sunday, May 30, 2016, 300 South African firefighters arrived in Western Canada to help battle the continuing wildfires that started in Fort McMurray and have continued to spread. The group made headlines after being seen dancing in unison at Edmonton International Airport in traditional African movements. (Source: Wong, J., “‘We are ready for it’: South African firefighters land in Edmonton, eager to help battle Fort McMurray wildfire,” Global News web site, May 29, 2016; http://globalnews.ca/news/2728034/fort-mcmurray-wildfire-crews-to-get-boost-from-south-african-firefighters/.)

“This is a time where people need to smile and feel encouragement more than ever,” says Ashley Daychak, creative director at Performing Dance Arts. “Seeing and hearing people cheer on these firefighters as they danced collectively in an airport where people’s spirits are likely damaged was a beautiful scene and shows just how powerful dance can be.”

The firefighters were flown in on a charter flight to Edmonton, where the dancing scene took place. Residents from both Fort McMurray and Edmonton were present to show their support for the firefighters, who have travelled thousands of miles to do their part to end the wildfires.

“It’s almost hard to imagine what kind of a gesture this is,” Daychak explains. “These firefighters are people from an entirely different continent thousands of miles away, yet here they are in Canada, helping deal with what has been a devastating time for people in that region, and really for the entire country.”

Over 2,200 firefighters are still actively working to put out the blaze that has been going since May 1 and has burned through over one million acres. Reports indicate that residents of Fort MacMurray will slowly be allowed to reenter the city soon.

“Canadians are doing their part by donating, and these foreign firefighters are playing a major role by facing these fires head-on,” Daychak concludes. “And as shown, a little dancing before they get to work did a lot to lift people’s spirits.”

Performing Dance Arts looks to empower kids of all ages through dance.