This annual award is presented to the dancer who exemplifies the dedication, passion, perseverance, positivity and fire that Whitney Mah lived by. It is also meant to serve as assistance in continuing the chosen dancer’s goals of furthering their career in dance. The award is currently $1,000 and available to dancers who are approximately 16 or older. Exceptions may be made to this age criterion based on Lacey’s judgment. Lacey Smith is responsible to make the best choice for this award based on this criterion and her own experience and knowledge in the field of dance and life. Lacey may engage assistance in helping her determine the most suitable recipient for this award.
Whitney Mah was born May 20th, 1986 in Calgary, Alberta and her introduction to dance started at the age of seven at the Yalenka School of Ukrainian dance thanks to her mother’s love of dance, costume and heritage. At some point in all this cultural dancing, her passion for dance became a major part of her life and she furthered her studies at the McDonald Wilson Dance Academy. At the age of eighteen Whitney entered the contemporary dance program at the University of Calgary to further her studies. After completing her first year she transferred to The School of Toronto Dance Theatre to explore a different artistic vision. Upon graduating from the School as part of the class of 2008, she was asked to perform with a group called Flux, formed by the School’s Artistic Director Patricia Fraser. At the end of her contract with TDT she married her high school sweetheart, Casey, following him to Ottawa Ontario. While living in Ottawa she dedicated more time to her yoga practice, completing her Hatha certification in 2011. Whitney and Casey then moved to London, Ontario where she found her final and true home: a place where she shared her love of yoga and her passion for dance through teaching. She found her passions in being a barista, a teacher and a performer. Her love for these things grew even more when she found out she had breast cancer at the age of 27. A heavy blow that she approached with the same love, commitment, compassion and strength that got her to be the best dancer and person she could be. Thanks go especially to Dasein and Lacey Smith for honouring Whitney’s journey with a 60-minute abstract movement documentation of a journey into the unknown. Whitney passed away March 23, 2015. It is in this spirit that the “Spirit of Whitney” Award was created. Some dancers are born with natural talent and some have to overcome many obstacles in their journey to be the best dancer they can be. This Award honours that Spirit in you!
2016 – Sophi Kerr
2017 – Emily Brereton
2018 – Amy Gras
2019 – Lily Burpee
GULEPH DANCE FESTIVAL Four Seasons Project
Sunday June 2nd at 5pm
River Run Centre