Spectrum dance teacher Lia Shannon accepts the Saanich Police Chief Constable’s Citizenship Award for her work choreographing an Uptown flashmob May 4 (above right). Photo submitted

VIDEO: Flashmob brings police praise for Saanich teacher

Spectrum’s Lia Shannon receives Chief Constable’s Citizenship Award for Uptown flashmob

Making a bust may be nothing new for Saanich Police, but one local teacher’s efforts to get them to bust a move has earned her the Chief Constable’s Citizenship Award.

Spectrum dance teacher Lia Shannon was presented the award last week for her work organizing a flashmob by police officers and Spectrum dance students at Uptown shopping centre in May.

“It was truly such a surprise, I had no idea that award existed even. I was so honoured and delighted to receive it,” said Shannon, adding the award is really a reflection on everyone involved in the flashmob.

That leaves plenty to share in the recognition, as it was close to 100 of Shannon’s students along with 21 police officers who surprised a crowd of shoppers at Uptown on May 4 with a four-minute choreographed dance routine.

“My advanced dancers start it and then I had the rest of my dancers come in, so I had about 100 dancers, and then the police are acting like, what’s going on. And then they come in and that’s when they surprise the crowd,” she said.

Shannon credits the idea for the flashmob to Const. Niki Sundher, with Saanich Police’s community engagement division, who wanted a collaborative effort between police and youth that would showcase both in a positive light.

“Without a thought I said yes, which I tend to do quite a bit.”

That gave her four days to put everything together.

“My dancers practised every day, the whole day, for those four days,” said Shannon, who told the officers that they could join in the classes but didn’t think their schedules would allow it.

“I had 17 police officers at one time in my class,” she said, adding she heard some had even held 2 a.m. practices.

“I was just so impressed with how serious they took it.”

One officer even insisted on working overtime to learn all the moves, including those of her most experienced dancers.

“He came in and practised with me. I told him, this part is really difficult. But he was super serious and said, ‘I’m going to do this’.”

The hard work paid off and the flashmob was a huge hit at Uptown as well as online, where a four-minute YouTube video has been watched more than 16,000 times.

“I thought it would just be a fun project and I can’t believe the impact it had on the community,” said Shannon, who’s also witnessed benefits for her students.

“The connections the kids made with the police officers. They’re happy to see these officers now. It makes for a neat relationship.”

And Shannon isn’t likely finished with flashmobs just yet. She was approached by someone who saw the YouTube clip and asked her to put together a flashmob for a wedding this summer.