June 14th, 2024

Dance instructor singled out for recognition by YWCA

By Herald on March 30, 2022.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman YWCA Women of Distinction award winner Lise-Anne Talhami speaks to the crowd about her desire to bring the community together through dance at her Ammena Dance Company Friday at the Sandman Signature Hotel.

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman  – Lethbridge Herald 

The 2022 YWCA Lethbridge and District 46th annual Women of Distinction Awards Ceremony recognized the impact of arts and culture in the community by a local dance instructor last week. 

The awards recognize women who have gone above and beyond in their fields and have become role models for the Lethbridge community. 

Ammena Dance Company owner and operator Lise-Anne Talhami was nominated by two of her students in the Arts, Culture and Heritage category for her contribution in bringing the community together through dance. 

Her students said they nominated her because she has taught them to love their bodies, through kindness and care. 

When speaking to those in attendance, Talhami became overwhelmed with emotions and said it would be easier to dance in front of the crowd than speaking. It was then when her nominators took over and read her acceptance speech. 

In her speech Talhami mentioned that she opened her studio in 2004 with the dream of bringing people together as she has a Middle Eastern background and they are always together. 

She also wanted to convey that she was accepting the award not for herself but for the studio which is full of women of distinction, some of whom were in attendance at the event Friday at the Sandman Signature Hotel. 

When speaking to the Herald, Talhami said that when she first heard about her nomination she was shocked and wanted all her students to speak on her behalf, because they are the studio. 

“When I first opened the studio in 2004 I thought ‘oh I will teach some recreational classes’, but they said ‘no, lets perform’. So, it was their idea to have a show and each year they are the ones that create the studio,” said Talhami. 

She said that when she first started teaching she kept thinking she would stay one year and then go to professional dancing and thought of the studio as a temporary thing. 

“I was injured and I thought, once I get better I’ll leave. But then I couldn’t leave because I had this great group of people around me, so I had no idea it was going to be what it was,” said Talhami. 

She said she never imagined the studio would become what it is today. She thought she would get 10 to 15 students, pay the rent of the studio and that would be it. And now 15 years later, she continues to have the support of the community and some of the dancers have been with her since the beginning. 

“After the pandemic, it was very meaningful (to receive the award), because with the arts which is something I do, you kinda think ‘oh we will be the first to be closed’ and everyone really fought for the studio so it felt really nice to be able to accept that they did all this work and got us through such a ridiculously hard time,” said Talhami.

The women of distinction event happen around International Women’s Day on March 8. President of YWCA 2021-2022 board of directors, Pardip Athwal, said this year the event took place later in the month as mask restrictions were lifted just before their usual date and they wanted to give people time to feel comfortable being around others unmasked. 

Athwal said nominations are received between January and February and those wishing to nominate a woman for the women of distinction award, can visit the YWCA website between January and February to fill up an application. 

“The nominee is aware of this, some people think it’s like awards where you are going to get one winner and nobody knows, it’s not like that. All of these women have known because we want them to be able to prepare and really say thank you,” said Athwal. 

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