Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, the very talented dancer and choreographer, Harmony Appell, director of Dream Dance Company in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Harmony was practically born in the studio, starting dance at the age of 2 and a half. She attended the Royal Winnipeg Ballet school’s summer intensive program in 2008, the National Ballet of Canada’s one-month summer program in 2009 and most recently the 3-year, post-secondary Teacher Training Program at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School in 2015. In December of 2008 and 2010, Harmony auditioned for a part in the Moscow Ballet Company’s production of Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake and was successfully chosen as one of the 12 local dancers. She has taken classes with many well-known and professional choreographers and dancers from around the world. Most recently, Harmony received a full paid scholarship and traveled to California for Mather Dance Company’s TRANS4M dance intensive to train with the best in the industry. At various workshops locally and internationally, Harmony has won outstanding scholarships to locations all around the world including Paris, LA, Montreal and New York. Some of her most prestigious awards include the top overall soloist, most potential, and most outstanding. Harmony lives her life with no regrets – like heaven is on earth!
What makes you a Girl Warrior?
What makes me a Girl Warrior is my ability to overcome obstacles and to look at life from a positive perspective even when things aren’t necessarily going my way. I am fierce and determined and always try to be optimistic. I have a big heart and I try my best to be a positive role model for the young dancers whom I teach. I always do my best to inspire those around me to be the best that they can be.
You’ve been a competitive dancer since you were very young. What is your earliest memory of dancing?
My earliest memory of dancing is probably running around the dance studio as a little girl while my mom taught dance classes to the “big kids”. I loved the studio so much and spent so much time at it. I enjoyed watching my mom follow her dreams as a dance teacher while she inspired her students through the art of dance.
Is there a particular competition that really stands out?
A competition that really stands out would be Thunderstruck that took place this past March 2018 in Thunder Bay, Ontario when I was awarded the judge’s choice award for my lyrical solo dedicated to my mother who passed away from brain cancer. It was a very emotional and memorable moment because of the love and support that I was shown by the judges and staff as well as the entire dance community.
Why is dancing so important to you?
Dancing is so important to me for so many reasons. It is my greatest passion. It’s an outlet that allows me to feel free and to express myself in so many ways. I am not one to vocalize my feelings, so it acts as an instrument of expression and communication for me to release my emotions. It is important to me because it has taught me so many life lessons that have and will continue to benefit me throughout my entire life. It has taught me dedication, perseverance, positive self-image, discipline, teamwork and passion. Most importantly it helped me discover who I am, and for all of this, I am so thankful.
How do feel when you dance?
When I dance I feel so many things. Depending on the reason I am dancing or the specific dance that I am performing, I can feel happy or I can feel sad. Dancing makes me feel emotional, it makes me feel free, it makes me feel loved, and it makes me feel as though I can do anything.
You had a very special relationship with your Mom. How did her cancer diagnosis change your life?
My mother was my best friend. Ask anyone who knew us and we were attached at the hip. We didn’t spend any time away from each other. We taught dance together every night at the studio; we did our grocery shopping together; we did everything together. In November 2016, my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer and on September 2nd, 2017, she peacefully passed away with myself and my brother and some other family members by her side. The symptoms of brain cancer are intense and unpredictable and you never know what each day is going to bring. I had to grow up quickly and be strong and brave as my family and I had to endure the ups and downs of cancer. Being my mom’s primary caregiver throughout her entire journey, it was by far the hardest time of my life. I spent endless nights sleeping at the hospital to keep her at ease and took care of her in ways that no 19 year old would ever have to take care of their parent. I must say, however, that the love and support from my incredible family and friends and Thunder Bay dance and soccer community made it a little bit easier. The diagnosis didn’t only affect me in a negative way. It brought my mom and me even closer together (if that was even possible), and it made me appreciate everything I have. Now I try my best to live my life with no regrets – like heaven is on earth.
What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve overcome running Dream Dance Company on your own?
There have been many obstacles I’ve had to overcome running Dream Dance Company on my own. The biggest/most challenging part is doing it by myself, without my mom by my side. It is extremely hard because everything about dance and the dance studio reminds me of my mom so every day when I walk in, I think of her. Mostly of the good memories but it always brings out my emotions and it makes me miss her so much.
What was the most important life lesson your Mom taught you?
Throughout my life, my mom taught me so many important lessons, that I honestly can’t think of the most important one. Everything I am and everything I know, I owe to my mom.
What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior?
I would say that I am PROUD of her for accomplishing everything that she had done in her life and for being strong and positive, for persevering through the most difficult times, for encouraging those around me to always be the best that they can be and for inspiring people both younger and older then me.
What would you say to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?
At this point in my life, my suggestions to you would be to stay positive, be patient and enjoy every minute of every day. You never know what life will throw at you, and you need to be prepared for anything and everything. Life is too short to have regrets, be yourself, stay happy and smile.
What’s next? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years, I hope to have graduated from Lakehead University with my Honors Bachelor of Arts in French and a double major in Education. I hope to have a full-time job teaching French at an Elementary School in Thunder Bay. I hope to begin travelling around the world with my boyfriend, Steven. My dream would be to have a house in the country with an adorable puppy. In 5 years, I hope that I will have travelled to New York or Los Angeles to immerse myself in the dance industry to get a feel for what life has to offer for me. There are so many things that could happen in 5 years, but I couldn’t be more excited to see what my future has in store.
What makes you laugh uncontrollably? Cry out all the tears?
What makes me laugh uncontrollably is when I do not get enough sleep and am over tired or when I have too much caffeine. I get very energetic and cannot seem to control my laughter. What makes me cry is romantic movies like The Notebook.
If a Ballet were written about your life, what would it be called?
It would be called “Living in Harmony”
Follow Harmony on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/harmony.appell?ref=bookmarks
And Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/harmonyappell/
Watch her dance videos here: https://www.facebook.com/harmony.appell/videos/10211862970158446/
You can learn more about Dream Dance Company here: http://dreamdanceco.com/