Charitable Choices: Rufi Oswaldo of Dancers’ Studio West

Rufi Oswaldo, the Artistic Director of Dancers’ Studio West in Calgary, Alberta, shares the organization’s commitment to supporting independent dance artists. Focused on alleviating the challenges faced by dancers, DSW provides crucial support from idea to production, recognizing the multifaceted roles dancers undertake.

Dancers' Studio West
Aimee Rushton. Photo by: Steven Teeuwsen

Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.

Dancers’ Studio West (DSW) exists to support independent dance artists in Alberta. In Feb 2024, we unveiled our strategic plan for 2024-2028. We are doubling down on a 2018 decision to become a support organization and are becoming increasingly artist-focused. We’re relaxing our grip on supporting the ‘discipline of dance’ in favour of supporting the dancers themselves, the human beings walking a variety of artistic and life paths. Our efforts are guided by our aesthetic values, namely innovation, artistic rigour and social impact.

What problem does it aim to solve?

We wanted to do this work to solve a few problems and build support for independent artists.

What made you want to do the work?

With few exceptions, dance in Alberta is mainly built on self-production. Without support, dance artists do the work of an entire team by themselves to bring their work to life. They become grant writers, producers, marketers, project managers, costume and set designers, and tech/sound designers, on top of the already physically demanding task of dance training and the mental/emotional challenges of choreographing. Dancers are among the most overworked and under-supported artists in Alberta. DSW provides programming that supports independent artists’ work from ideation to production so that they can flourish in their chosen artistic movement practice.

When did you start/join it? What was the situation like when you started?

The last five years have been ones of incredible changes. In 2018, DSW’s vision shifted and we became a support organization, completely rebranding ourselves in the process. Since then, DSW has navigated a global pandemic, steered the community through a shifting artistic and social landscape, hired a new Artistic Director, and experienced important changes to the Board of Directors. In response, we engaged in a governance review and strategic planning process to navigate our shifting landscape, leverage the opportunities of change, and ensure the long-term sustainability of the organization.

Dancers' Studio West
Kaili Che. Photo by: Alyssa Maturino

What more needs to be done?

DSW is a non-profit, charitable organization. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of our funders, supporters, and partners who make our programs possible. These have recently included the Canada Council for the Arts, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Calgary Arts Development, Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission, Rozsa Foundation, GRAND Theatre, cSPACE Marda Loop, The New Gallery, Contemporary Calgary, Festival Hall, Theatre Encounter, Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers, Dark Arts Restaurant and Drinks, City and Country Winery, Mary Blais Consulting, and Aldona B Creative. We welcome your tax-deductible donations and are constantly looking for community partners and opportunities!

Where can we follow you?

Dancers’ Studio West: Website, Instagram and Facebook

Rufi Oswaldo: Instagram and Facebook

PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?

Let’s show City and Country Winery some love. They are such amazing supporters of the arts! Plus, they have a great selection of wines.


About Emilea Semancik 91 Articles
Emilea Semancik was born in North Vancouver. Emilea has always always wanted to work as a freelance writer and currently writes for the Vancouver Guardian. Taking influence from journalism culture surrounding the great and late Anthony Bourdain, she is a recipe author working towards publishing her own series of books. You can find her food blog on Instagram: