OUR ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & FOUNDER BIO
Stephanie Strugar founded Difinity Dance Studio and Productions in 2008 with the goal to collaborate with community organizations to provide therapeutic performing arts services to at-risk youth, disabled youth and adults, and the elderly.
This goal was achieved as she developed programs and workshops for dance studios, fitness centers, and community arts organizations across Manitoba. Through grant funding and strategic partnerships her innovative dance, fitness, and music services were provided to children across MB. in schools and daycares.
As a choreographer, dance & fitness educator, model, actress, R&B singer and songwriter and certified body painter, Stephanie lives and breathes the arts. She has entertained family and corporate audiences for over 10 years as a professional clown, mascot, celebrity impersonator, event comedian and Emcee.
She has dedicated herself to sharing industry knowledge by developing and facilitating custom therapeutic performance art and visual arts programs for a wide variety of community and arts organizations. From organisations that serve a diverse clientele such as at-risk youth, people with learning/ physical disabilities. women with physical injuries, and adults recovering from addictions.
Stephanie has facilitated dance and fitness programs in schools and daycares across Manitoba and she has also spearheaded several productions city wide. Currently her projects include her DIFINI DOLLS Multi-Cultural Dance Crew “Breaking Performer Stereotypes” and DIFINI MINIS “Anti-Bullying” Dance Crew that fundraise for several worthy causes and sponsor at-risk youth for free multi cultural dance classes.
Her focus is to utilize the challenges she's faced as a youth to inspire DDSP students. As a youth she was bullied and developed an eating disorder and depression, but her involvement in performance arts and visual arts kept her on a straight path. She is a body positive activist who offers wellness coaching to all her students promoting holistic nutrition, meditation, fitness, and involvement in the arts. She is a trailbazer who has competed locally as lead in Bachata dancing who rejects the idea that a woman can not be physically strong, or only strong in certain "body types." Her community advocacy includes teen talks about the subject of self worth, and this is a philosophy her Confi-Dance Camps was founded on. Her most recent camp in Carberry MB., focused on whole body health for families and children through performance arts education.
As a mother of one, Stephanie has increased her focus on developing whole family, cross generational community performance arts programs for the City of Winnipeg, and isolated Manitoba rural communities.
2010- Became a public health advocate and workshop facilitator for organizations who serve persons with disabilities, youth at risk, homelessness, and children in foster care. She inspired her audience with her first hand experiences, and challenged them to take action in their lives.
2011. Began planning and directing events and productions. In addition she extended her services to family entertainment, grads, birthday parties. Offering professional mascots, celebrity and super hero impersonations, singing telegrams, body artistry, and Caricatures. Her vibrant personality and comedic flavor won over audiences across MB. Stephanie has face and body painted, temporary tattooed, and sketched hundreds of Manitoban's ages 3 and up.
2012- Extended her dance studies full time to ballroom, latin, east coast and west coast swing, performing at various dance events in MB working with internationally award winning choreographers.
2013- Stephanie showcased as a RAW.org Artist in there first ever Winnipeg showcase "The Awakening". Her musical theatre, cross cultural dance crew "DIFINI DOLLS" showcased their abilities, along with her "body positive" plus size models that featured Stephanie's body artistry.
2014- Began collaborating with performers and directors from various performance arts disciplines to co-direct local Artist-Run productions.
- Difinity Dance created Educator Training & Mentorship Program for multi disciplinary dance teachers in rural areas to learn DDSP Trademarked dance, cirque, theatre, fitness fusion programs to provide students in their community ages 1.5 and up with access to DDSP satellite programs year-round. Removing barriers and inequal access challenges new and experience dance educators face who are located in Rural, MB.
2015- Her focus turned to recruiting and training amateur and semi-professional models, dancers, actors, and singers to perform in her artist focused, artist funded productions to encourage artists to learn from each other to create a more cohesive and productive community
- Her dance crews "DIFINI DOLLS" and "DIFINI MINIS" was chosen as an Urban Artist Focus and performed a 20 min dance showcase at CUT CONNEX Urban Trade Show and Awards that featured her original R&B tracks and dance choreography.Since then she has gone on to direct several multi cultural musical theatre and cirque productions in MB with the goal to mentor artists in the business side of arts and cultural entertainment and education providing teaching, performing, and administrative opportunities.
2016- Founded and directed Winnipeg's BaZoo (No Nudity Burlesque Arts Zoo) to create a professional venue for triple-threat amateur to professional female burlesque performers from manitoba to perform in. She also started a family, and began studying post-partum fitness and dance education, Early Childhood Education, and Special Needs Education. Showcase took place at Park Theatre Cafe, Wpg.MB.
- Difini Dolls Dance Crew produced a body positive, non-nude burlesque show "Santa Baby Burlesque Dance Theatre". Vintage choreography and performing arts were brought back with a contemporary cultural dance twist. Showcase took place Nov.30th., 2018 at the Park Theatre Cafe, Wpg.MB.
- Became a governing Board member of Arts and Accessibility Network of Manitoba, and Difinity Dance became a partner of AANM.
2017- The non-nude, body positive, cross cultural, cross-generational Burlesque Dance Theatre Showcase "Beach Bum 2018" that took place July.7th., 2018 at the Dramatic Arts Centre. Wpg.MB
2018- The non-nude, body positive, cross cultural, cross-generational Dance Theatre Showcase "Crystal Circus 2018". A christmas themed, parody of classic christmas films, and TV Characters.
- Manitoba's first Deaf/ Hard of Hearing dance crew Def.Up for multi-disciplinary amateur to semi professional dancers ages 13+ was founded. Her inspiring work with the Deaf community was featured on CBC.TV, CTV.TV, and CJOB.680.Radio. This project was made possible through collaboration with Manitoba Cultural Society of the Deaf, and Arts and Accessibility Network of Manitoba.
- Began competing in scottish highland heavy games, as one of the few females in Canada to participate in the sport. She is currently training for Strongman Games, and plans to compete for the first time in fall 2019 right here in Manitoba.
2019- Certified Asthma Ambassador of Canada. Stephanie has struggled with exercise induced asthma since childhood.Exercised-induced asthma is a narrowing of the airways in the lungs triggered by strenuous exercise. It causes shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing and other symptoms during or after exercise.The preferred term for this condition is exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (brong-koh-kun-STRIK-shun). This term is more accurate because the exercise induces narrowing of airways (bronchoconstriction) but isn't a root cause of asthma. Among people with asthma, exercise is likely just one of several factors that may trigger breathing difficulties.
As an Ambassador, the interim goals of advocacy are:
2019- Became a Maintaining Respectful Workplaces in the Arts Consultant/ Trainer for C.H.R.C (Cultural Human Resources Council) of Canada.
CALL FOR PARTNERS 2018 - ONGOING
Difinity Dance is dedicated to collaborating with organisations that fit within our mandate, mission, and two year organisation's goals. We provide the ability to increase performance arts education and performing opportunities in communities across Manitoba through partnership with us. From assistance with obtaining grants, community sponsorship, and DDSP programming subsidy, we work with you to create a professional, inclusive performance arts opportunity.
In addition, Difinity Dance crews Difini Dolls, Def.Up, and Difini Mini's can provide performance arts entertainment to raise awareness for your community cause, or organisations initiatives.
Please see the following links for more information:
2019 SEASON & ONGOING DISABILITY EXCLUSIVITY INITIATIVE :
Difinity Dance believes that Manitoba should have equal access to performance arts education and opportunities. In order to achieve this goal we have expanded our Trademarked Programs curriculum to be fully inclusive by partnering directly with arts organisations who serve youth an adults with a wide spectrum of disabilities through workshops, summer camps, after school dance clubs, and physical education enrichment programs.
We are currently working to create a WheelChair/ Amputee Integrated Dance Crew. Choreographers that will teach the Dancers will consist of Semi Professional & Professional Performance Artists Choreographers who identify as a person with a disability. We believe that in order for a community to truly thrive they need inspiring role models to learn from.
Our goal is to provide professional recreational performance arts education with the goal of dancers becoming dance crew members who will eventually become DDSP Educators and lead their own performance arts and recreation initiatives in their community.
This will be achieved by providing:
1. Access to health related workshops and programs in the areas of:
a) mental health
b) spiritual health
c) physical health
that are: cross cultural, cross generational, integrative, indigenous related in the subject of truth and reconciliation.
2. Access to performance arts and sports education for person's who identify with one or more medical conditions or disabilities:
a)the Blind/ Partial Vision Loss
b) Wheelchair users
c) Deaf/ Hard of Hearing
d) Bone or musculature skeletal health conditions
f) other health related conditions
QUOTES WE OPERATE BY
DDSP Believes that our Educators must be competent in teaching, but most of all have strong character in order to be good role models for our students. These 10 quotes are just some of the core believes we carry, that we expect our Educators to example in all aspects of their lives.
1. "The child supplies the power, but the parents have to do the steering"- Dr.Benjamin Spock
2. "Everyone has beauty, but not everyone sees it." - Confucius
3. "We are the hero of our own story." - Mary Mc.Carthy
4. "Only when we are no longer afraid we begin to live." - Dorothy Thompson
5. "Courage is the ladder on which all other virtues mount". - Clare Booshe Lee
6. "There is always something left to love, and if you have not learned that you have not learned anything." - Lorraine Hansbery
7. " Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction." - Anne Sullivan
8. "Life is for participating, not spectating." - Katherine Switzer
9. "It is through art that we prevail, and will endure. It lives in us, and defines us as people." - Rita Moreno
10. "Permanent remorse, but a failing to be humane, in my oppinion is worse than loosing your life.;" - unknown
DDSP TEACHING PRINCIPLES
We believe as Educator's of children and youth, it is our duty to honor the younger generation by teaching leadership, accountability, compassion, and initiative through our self-disciplined, open-conversation method of education. The following are the 5 skill sets we actively work towards building our students character.
1. SOCIAL: Children now more than ever, need to be equipped with strong emotional intelligence, and problem solving abilities.
a) INTRA-PERSONAL- We empower the ability to get along well with others as a positive, supportive and encouraging team player through our accountable, honest relationship's our Educator's have in the classroom with our students.
b) INTER-PERSONAL - We empower our students to believe in themselves by giving them challenging, age appropriate activities that challenge their abilities. Through cross-training in diverse performance arts discipline's we engage our students to be well rounded athletes at every level, from recreational to semi professional.
2. COMMUNITY & PERSONAL ADVOCACY - We provide opportunities for our students to perform in their own community to fund raise for their local charitable endeavors. We expect all of our Dance Crews, and DDSP Educators to activley participate in their community by utilizing their gifts to contribute to improving the quality of life for it's members.
3. PEER & PERSONAL CULTURAL APPRECIATION - There are two sides to every coin, and we emphasis empathy, understanding, and integrative cultural practices and traditions into all of our services. When our Dance Crews or Educators are visiting a community to teach or perform we honor the community we serve by incorporating their requests into our curriculum so that our services are completely adapted to match the participants needs. We teach children to look beyond their specific differences and to focus on the prosperity of the human race by being inclusive with their peers by exploring their unique story.
4. SELF DISCIPLINE & COMMUNITY ACCOUNTABILITY- We believe children should have a strong foundation in health through adequate nutrition, strong physical literacey, and responsibility of their grades and commitments in their home. We know that the next generation will shape our future, so we set expectations that play must be accompanied by hard work. Our students are activley engaged in the decision making process of what they would like to learn in class, how to expand their strengths and improve their weakness, how to ask for help, how to help others, and much more. Being a winner is not just about getting first place, but about making sacrifices to succeed that do not harm others. We ask that our students keep their peers in check by encouraging the best out of them and being respectful of each other's differences.
DDSP COMMITMENT TO CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
We believe that DDSP dance students and educators must demonstrate the following character qualities on the dance floor of life whether in rehearsals, on stage, at home, and in their community:
1. Commitment - Your yes must remain a yes, or say no regardless of the challenges you face, keep your commitments and rise above your circumstances.
2. Determination - If there is a will, there is a way. Life is not a cookie cutter path, find yours and life it out.
3. Gratitude - Be grateful for the mentors, friends, family, opportunities, and food on your plate, every day.
4. Hardwork - Be more than your talent and wisdom, push yourself everyday in all aspects of your life, never settle, never stop.
5. Integrity - Integrity means doing the right thing even if your standing alone, or stand to loose everything.
6. Truth - Be honest about who you are, and what you want to be. Start with this, and healthy boundaries will follow.
7. Openess - Try new things, explore other cultures and communities different than your own, do not be quick to judge.
8. Preserverance - When all seems lost or hopeless, do it anyway.
9. Reliability - Be reliable even if the benefits of the engagement change. Be the person who is there through the good and hard times.
10. Justice- Forgive those who have hurt you, and share your story and advocate for positive changes in your community.
DDSP'S COMMITMENT TO KIDS & FAMILIES
DDSP Educators and Choreographers are committed to creating a safe environment for all studies free from economic and disability barriers, racism, sexism, by taking extensive training in early child development, physical literacy, disability studies, learning styles, therapeutic arts practices, and integrated teaching methodologies.
We respect and welcome diverse students, and are always seeking innovative cultural dance techniques and teachings to add to our curriculum's.
All of our Educators are required to complete the following before they are accepted into our Educator Training Development courses:
Depending on our Educator's chosen specialty of expertise with DDSP, they will also be required to obtain specific coaching and fitness designations in Sport, Fitness, and Dance, or renew all applicable certifications. Our Educators also under go extensive year round training with DDSP, and dance organisations across Canada.
When booking a DDSP Educator, we provide the host with all applicable copies of certifications our Educators have upon request.
DDSP EDUCATOR'S CODE OF CONDUCT
Difinity Dance was founded on the principles of Bullying prevention and sexual abuse prevention in children and youth. As such, we have a strict code of conduct for all of our staff, volunteers, and students that includ
Our Educators, and students are provided with constructive feedback, training to ensure our commitment to safety is understood, and accountable to the appropriate resources.
We have partnered with various Canadian and American Anti-Bullying Prevention organisations to provide yearly training and support to our Educators and students.es a zero tolerance policy. Your trust in our commitment to quality care and integrity in all of our community outreach is our top priority.
2018 MEDIA COVERAGE
DDSP cares about Manitoba's diverse communities, and we are in constant pursuit of improving accessibility of our programs. Here are some of our recent successful endeavors. Clicks the link below to hear more about our stories:
1. CONFIDANCE CAMP 2018 - Carberry,MB: www.carberrynews.ca/News/improvingphysicalliteracywithconfi-danceminicamp
2. DEF.UP DANCE CREW 2018: www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/def-up-dance-troupe-stereotypes-1.4917479
3. UGOT THIS TEEN HEALTH WORKSHOP- Red River Valley Echo Newspaper