RageDancing is all the Rage

Danielle Hubbard breaks boundaries with unique form of fitness dancing

Danielle Hubbard has been teaching dance classes at Concordia for 23 years. Photo courtesy Michel Bazinet

Sure, you might dance, but do you ragedance?

Ragedancing, a fitness-performance art hybrid, is the brainchild of dance teacher Danielle Hubbard. She’s been teaching cardio dance class at Concordia for 23 years, and has no plans to stop anytime soon.

“You have to have ballet slippers and [you have to have] guts,” said Hubbard, and perhaps it is her gutsiness that pushed her to fuse contemporary dance

“[The classes are] non-conformist, non-traditional, and sometimes hardcore with a sense of theatre,” said Hubbard between sips of wine. In addition to her class at Concordia’s Le Gym—Cardio Plus—she teaches “rage dance” and private ballet—sometimes in her own bedroom, where her cat is known makes an appearance.

Hubbard began her classe de rage dance 17 years ago, under the name “rage aerobics.” Many of her friends from the local punk and alternative scenes wanted to get into shape, but were having trouble fitting in at the gym, she said.

“You can only do so much of the ‘fuck you’ thing, [before you] feel unwanted,” she said, explaining that the stigma around piercings, tattoos and alternative hair colours weren’t as acceptable back in the day as they are today. These circumstances are what inspired her to create a fitness routine that would appeal to individuals who felt uncomfortable in natural gym settings.

However, through the years, rage aerobics became “rage dance” in order to move away from the strict aerobic aspect.

Hailing from Ottawa, where she began training in ballet at the age of four, Hubbard has been involved in various kinds of performance art. She’s gone from leading roles in indie movies to circus performances to performing in punk bands. She credits her dance and theatre background for making it easy for her to adapt to different styles of performance,

However, the heart Hubbard’s drive has undertones of badassery.

“You have to have ballet slippers, and [you have to have] guts,” she said.

“You have to have ballet slippers, and [you have to have] guts,” – Danielle Hubbard

Despite having performed in shows as big as Cirque du Soleil, Hubbard she prefers smaller, more intimate venues where she finds there’s more opportunity for creativity. Dancing has brought her to Geneva, Istanbul, France, Italy and Spain, among other places.

Hubbard’s energy is catching, and no two classes are the same. “I don’t really have a routine,” she said. “My only routine is change.”

In class, Hubbard fuses classic technique with her own methods. To signify a sudden change in movement, she might make a sound like a bird, or she’ll shriek, “Run!” to catch students off guard.

Hubbard’s dynamic cardio classes are offered through Concordia’s Le Gym three times per week. This spring she has an upcoming tour throughout Quebec.

Rage Dance / Belgo Building (372 St. Catherine O, Studio #310)

Cardio Plus / Monday, Wednesday and Friday / Le Gym (EV Building, 1455 De Maisonneuve Ouest) / 12:05 p.m. / $45/65 / More info