d:mic/fac 2015 kicks off with vibrant launch party

By: Mairéad Filgate

On a chilly Monday evening a little over two weeks ago, RATIO (co-facilitated by brilliant musician and tiger princess dance projects collaborator Nick Storring) was the cozy host to our dance: made in canada/fait au canada’s 2015 Launch Party. This newly opened, intimate concert and art space at College and Spadina was the perfect spot for artists and friends to get warm and perk up on a cold February evening with some drinks, eats, performances; and more importantly, to be the first to hear the official announcement of the exciting 2015 dance: made in canada program, curated this year by Yvonne Ng, Tedd Robinson and Debashis Sinha.

Tedd Robinson made an appearance via Skype and even managed a photo op with the raffle winner of the Mainstage Festival Pass. A mere $5 suggested entrance fee got everyone a raffle ticket and Board Member /super supporter James Beamish was standing by with necklaces of tickets for sale, which won many lucky recipients free drinks and show tickets. Festival directors Yvonne Ng and Jeff Morris were in attendance, along with many princess productions staff members, past d:mic/fac artists, supporters, and several of this year’s artists – including Kate Hilliard, Zhenya Cerneacov (Throwdown Collective), and even Lina Cruz (Fila 13 Productions) of Montreal who just happened to be in town for a theatre workshop. Andy and Jessica of the gypsy jazz trio Les Petits Nouveaux provided a terrific music concert part way through the evening and were joined by Bill Coleman who performed an improvised tap piece. Peggy Baker’s joyous laughter rang out as Bill entertained with his slapstick antics, getting the unsuspecting crowd involved and finally being pushed back on stage for an encore performance.

The night was rounded out by a surprise duet performance by Chimera’s Company B; the delicious comfort food by the ever creative Michael Tong; and of course the warm company of fellow artists and friends. This year’s festival promises to be an exciting and stimulating mix of artistry from across the country. Check out the full line up online HERE. We can’t wait to see you in August at the Betty Oliphant Theatre!

Photo: Patricia Cain
Caption: Big winner of the Mainstage Festival Pass, Patricia Cain, poses with Yvonne Ng, Jeff Morris and Tedd Robinson (on screen!)

Photo: Yvonne Ng
Caption: Bill Coleman and Les Petits Nouveaux entertain the crowd.

Photo: Patricia Cain
Caption: Andy and Jessica of Les Petits Nouveaux

dance: made in canada / fait au canada presents artists from across

dance: made in canada / fait au canada presents artists from across Canada
August 13 – 16, 2015, Betty Oliphant Theatre

Festival Artistic Director Yvonne Ng, Co-Festival Directors, Janelle Rainville & Jeff Morris, alongside guest curators Tedd Robinson and Debashis Sinha, are pleased to announce the programming for the dance: made in canada / fait au canada (d:mic/fac) Festival, running August 13-16, 2015. Over two dozen artists will be seen at the Betty Oliphant Theatre in Toronto in three different programs: Mainstage, What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) and Arts Encounters.

The d:mic/fac MainStage Series consists of three different series totalling seven unique Canadian dance works by an exceptional list of contemporary artists:

Robinson Series

  • Fila 13 Productions / Lina Cruz (Montreal) performs Waiting for a Sleepless Night (WORLD PREMIERE), choreographed by Cruz. On an imaginary terrain, two “buddies” wander into the heightened sensitivity of a sleepless night.
  • Andrew Tay / Wants&Needs Danse (Montreal) performs You can’t buy it (WORLD PREMIERE), a solo which questions modern society’s connection to spirituality using the body, elements of ritual and the relationship between the performer and spectator.

“In curating this evening, I chose Cruz’s work for its physicality and intimacy,” says Robinson. “I chose Tay’s work because I found it to be intriguing and curious in concept. Together, I feel that we will see into the inquisitive minds of these two creators. One leans toward the physical, and the other leans toward performance. I like to think that there is room for both on the stage.”

Sinha Series

  • Ryan Cunningham / Troy Emery Twigg (Calgary) bring They Shoot Buffalo, Don’t They? (TORONTO PREMIERE). This is a contemporary piece for three dancers that uses mask reminiscent of traditional dances and ceremonies. The physical narrative is expressed through the perspective of the wild Buffalo; the masks, choreography and performance embody the evolution of the wild Buffalo in North America.
  • Jacob Niedzwiecki (Toronto) choreographs A Review of Criticality Accidents (WORLD PREMIERE), a literary adaptation from an unlikely source: a landmark 2001 review of every ‘process’ nuclear accident in both the Russian and American nuclear programs. Niedzwiecki’s piece explores the report’s stories and the dangerous science behind them, with a gifted cast of five (or four?) interpreters.

Says Sinha: “Dance has been most exciting to me when it comes out of something that is part of our collective unconscious – the experience of nature, perhaps, or of relationships, or how we place our human lives in a universe so much more vast than we are. In this program, I choose two pieces that are driven by these currents, albeit in very different ways.”

Morrison/Ng Series

  • Kate Hilliard (Toronto) choreographs and performs the duet Jane and Sam with Robert Abubo (WORLD PREMIERE). The piece questions mortality and the unknown suspense that death creates.
  • Marie France Forcier (Toronto) performs her solo Little Guidebook for Using your Suffering Wisely (WORLD PREMIERE), an ironic journey through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A character embarks on a self-help audiobook journey, guided by a narrator.
  • Throwdown Collective (Toronto) performs Various Concert (working title) (WORLD PREMIERE). The piece explores the dynamic form of the trio as a choreographic structure relating to the themes of perspective and time.

What pulled these works together for me is that each choreographer is a performer within their own works,” says Ng. “This gives each piece immediacy, intimacy and a touch of irrationality that is compelling. When the choreographer and dancer are one and the same, the choreographic process is intuitive, and more akin to biological growth than architectural design. This gives the audience a glimpse of the interior self.”

To view the full release, please click HERE.

Launch Party This February!


We have invited an incredibly amazing and diverse line up of artists to perform at our festival this August and we want YOU to be the first to know just WHO they are.

Join us on February 9th as we announce the 2015 d:mic/fac artists.

As you have come to expect – there will be food, drink and fun, including live music by Les Petits Nouveaux and a few other surprises.

You’ll also have the chance to win a festival pass!

Monday, February 9th, 2015
6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Location: RATIO
(283 College Street, 2nd floor/ west of Spadina)
PWYC at the door

Join the Facebook event!

Light and Shadow Performance

Don’t miss dance: made in canada / fait au canada Festival’s first off-year performance this August!

Our first off-year event is ‘Light and Shadow’, a platform for dialogue between Light and Choreography. Lighting Designer, Arun Srinivasan will facilitate two evening workshops for professional dance artists that focus on lighting design for contemporary dance. The workshops will culminate in a performance on Saturday, August 16th.

That evening, a work by Peggy Baker Dance Projects will be staged with two distinct lighting designs. Also included on the program will be performances by Alias Dance Projects (Triptych part 2), Iryna Gordon (Silencio) and Pamela Briz and Alison MacDonald.

Saturday, August 16th at 8pm
Winchester Street Theatre (80 Winchester Street, Toronto)

Tickets are $10 in advance and can be purchased HERE
or at the door:

$15 General Admission
$12 Artsworker/ Senior/ Student

Click HERE for the Facebook event!

d: mic/fac presents Light & Shadow Early Bird Registration


**Early Bird Registration available until July 15th!**

Light and Shadow is a new initiative and professional development opportunity presented by dance: made in canada / fait au canada (d: mic/fac). Two workshops, running August 13th and 14th, will culminate in a public performance on August 16th at 8pm, at the Winchester Street Theatre.

This is our first off-year event, and we are very excited about it! Light and Shadow is a tremendous hands-on learning opportunity for all levels of dance and theatre artists, designers, and professionals who wish to become better acquainted with the specifics of design for dance.

Join us and help make this series a great success, so that we can continue to develop d:mic/fac’s programming in the coming seasons. More details, as well as the registration portal, can be found HERE.

EARLY BIRD registration at the discounted rate of $60, is available until JULY 15TH!

d: mic/fac 2013 Award Winners Announced

Artistic Director Yvonne Ng, on behalf of princess productions and guest curators Serge Bennathan and Cylla von Tiedemann, is pleased to announce the award winners from this year’s dance: made in canada / fait au canada (d:mic/fac), the cutting-edge contemporary dance festival which had a popular and critically successful run August 14-17, 2013 at the Betty Oliphant Theatre in Toronto.

New this year, the festival initiated Audience Choice Awards (ACA) for each of the MainStage Series and What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) Late-Night Series, with prize money raised through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign divided 60/40 between the winners from each series.

The MainStage Series Award goes to Benjamin Kamino, who performed an excerpt from his solo Nudity. Desire. He receives a cheque for $692.

The ACA winner from the WYSIWYG Series is Throwdown Collective (Zhenya Cerneacov, Mairéad Filgate and Brodie Stevenson). The Throwdown Collective receives a cheque for $461.

Amy Hampton, whose Middle Distance was featured in the lottery-drawn What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) Series at d:mic/fac, is the winner of the 2013 Paula Citron Award and receives a cheque for $100.

Among the outstanding Canadian dance creators contributing to three different MainStage Series were Benjamin Kamino (Montreal), William Yong (Toronto), Femmes du Feu (Toronto), Louis Laberge-Côté (Toronto), Gearshifting Performance Works (Winnipeg), Mocean Dance (Halifax) and Blue Ceiling Dance (Toronto). Following the MainStage programming was a Late-Night “What You See is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) Series with Jamee Valin of Vancouver and Toronto-based artists Amy Hampton, Shannon Litzenberger, skindivers dance company and Throwdown Collective. (Arts Encounters, a visual art exhibit, community line dance, live video dance installation and other happenings rounded out the festival.)


More details on the winners:

This year’s d:mic/fac featured a new prize – the Audience Choice Awards (ACA). Audience members had the opportunity to vote for their favourite artists in both the MainStage Series and What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get Late-Night Series, with prize money raised through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign divided 60/40 between the winners from each series.

The ACA winner from the MainStage Series is Benjamin Kamino, who performed an excerpt from Nudity. Desire., a solo embodying the theological framework of the “first nude” or “fall” as a potential origin of language and birthplace of desire as explored by contemporary philosophers Giorgio Agamben, Slavoj Žižek and Erik Peterson.

The ACA winner from the WYSIWYG Series is Throwdown Collective (Zhenya Cerneacov, Mairéad Filgate and Brodie Stevenson), whose Various Concert explores the dynamic form of the trio as a choreographic structure. Playing with the tension of partnering, weight sharing and manipulation, a fluid and changing dynamic is found and used as the background.

Benjamin Kamino receives a cheque for $692 while Throwdown Collective collects $461.

In 1996, dance critic Paula Citron inaugurated a prize to recognize choreographic artistry at the fringe Festival of Independent Dance Artists. Since then, the Paula Citron Dance Award has been variously conferred on choreographers selected from Moving Pictures Festival of Dance on Film and Video, Fresh Blood (a showcase of emerging choreographers) and the biennial d:mic/fac. The winner of the 2013 Paula Citron Award is Amy Hampton, whose Middle Distance was featured in the lottery-drawn WYSIWYG Series at d:mic/fac. Performed by Hampton and Brendan Wyatt, Middle Distance explores a relationship through the lens of physical proximity and the spaces between us. “Amy Hampton is a very physical dancer,” Citron observes, “so it is no surprise that she is also a very physical choreographer. The very traits that make her one of the most sought after independent dancers in the city can be found in Middle Distance – precision placement, firm control, and strong expression.” Hampton receives a cheque for $100.

Download the press release: DMIC 2013-PR-AWARD WINNERS

Interview with Susanne Chui, Artistic Director of Mocean Dance

Susanne Chui crop(Photo Credit- Nick Rudnicki)
Photo by:  Nick Rudnicki

Tell us about yourself, location and company.

Based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Mocean Dance was founded in 2001 by dancers Carolle Crooks Fernando, Sarah Rozee, Sara Harrigan, Alicia Orr MacDonald, and Lisa Phinney Langley. Currently led by Artistic Director Susanne Chui and Artistic Associate Sara Coffin, Mocean Dance is recognized nationally as a leading contemporary dance company from the Atlantic region.  The company’s work is rooted in the core values of collaboration, versatility, technical and emotional depth, professionalism, and a commitment to the work’s integrity.

Mocean has produced and presented new shows annually (8 full-length productions), and has created over 25 new works with choreographers from across the country.  The company is also dedicated to community outreach and the development of future audiences.  Mocean has developed residency programs bringing contemporary dance to communities across the region, and has performed and led workshops for thousands of students.  Mocean has appeared to acclaim in Ontario, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, in theatres across Nova Scotia, and in the United States.

Mocean is committed to being based in Nova Scotia and contributing to its growing dance and arts community by providing opportunities for creation, performance, collaboration, development and education.

What is your dance background?  What drew you to it?

Mocean is made up of dance artists from a variety of training backgrounds. We hire dancers on a per project basis. The majority of our dancers were born in Nova Scotia and did their pre-professional training in Halifax. They have trained professionally across the country at schools such as TDT, LADMMI, SFU, and in the United States at North Carolina School for the Arts, and the New World School of the Arts in Miami, FL. Some of our dancers live in Nova Scotia, and some share their time between NS and other cities. We also hire guest dancers from outside of NS. Last season we hired Darryl Tracy from Toronto.

The company was created by five young women with a dream to create an innovative sustainable, contemporary company built by Nova Scotian dancers.

Describe your approach to movement and your creative process. What is your favourite part of your approach?

Mocean commissions national and international choreographers to create work on the company. We also commission local choreographers and company members. We enjoy working with choreographers whose work is highly physical and those who incorporate theatrical elements. Our dancers are very collaborative and bring a wide range of skill and talent to the creative process. In general we like to laugh and have fun in the studio but also work hard and find authenticity in the work and the process.

Is there a Canadian artist/organization who has really had an impact on your artistic development and career?

Mocean is a home-grown dance company with a unique support system deeply rooted in our community. All artists involved contribute to the evolution of the company, including the local dancers and commissioned choreographers.

In our 11 year history we have worked with many choreographers who have had an impact the company’s artistic development, in particular Tedd Robinson (Ottawa), Sharon Moore (Toronto), Susie Burpee (Toronto), Estelle Clareton (Montreal), Lesandra Dodson (New Brunswick),  Michael Trent (Toronto), Roger Singha (Montreal), Sara Coffin (Halifax), Lisa Phinney Langley (Halifax) and Cory Bowles (Halifax).

Barbara Richman, an arts administrator has played a key role in developing Mocean from the beginning and helping to make Mocean a successful and sustainable dance company.

Kathy Casey of Montreal Danse has been a mentor to the company over the years and has had impact on company’s creative direction.

In 30 words or less, define yourself as an artist.

A committed, passionate, hard-working dance company, who aim is contribute to on-going evolution of dance in Canada from the Nova Scotian perspective.

What was it that attracted you to being involved with d:mic/fac?

A great performance opportunity in Toronto!

We want to share our work with Ontario audiences, interact with the broader dance community, see other shows from across Canada, and take classes and workshops.

What advice do you have for aspiring dance artists and choreographers?

–       In the unofficial words of Gandhi: Be the change you want to see in the world.

–       Believe in what you do.

–       If it’s something you think you should do, do it.

–       Ask for help.

–       You’re only in competition with yourself.

Briefly tell us about your newest projects. What can we expect from your performance at d:mic/fac 2013?

New projects:

In September we will be collaborating with Here Hear Productions on a site-specific performance called Burnwater, involving dancers, musicians, storytellers and  a blacksmith/sculptor named John Little on his property in East Dover, NS.

We are creating a new trio with the company’s Artistic Associate, Sara Coffin, which will premiere in Halifax April 24-26 2014, presented Live Art Dance Productions.

We will hold our 2nd annual Choreographic Lab CLEaR Forum (Choreographic Lab, Exploration & Research) in collaboration with the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts in Canning, NS.

From our d:mic performance you can expect to be delighted, mesmerized and you may even find yourself tapping your feet to the music. Kid-friendly!


Mocean Dance will be performing Canvas 5 x 5 at d: mic/fac as part of the Von Tiedemann Series:

August 15 at 7:00pm
August 16 at 9:00pm
August 17 at 9:00pm

In a timeless world of grace and wonder, Tedd Robison’s Canvas 5 x 5 is a masterful intertwining of the familiar with the excitingly new. Set to a traditional maritime soundscape, the piece blends striking contemporary imagery and contagious kinetic movement, interplayed with Robinson’s signature use of elegance and beauty.

Interview with Jolene Bailie/Gearshifting Performance Works

Jo July 2013_2 smTell us about yourself, location and company.

Originally founded to support Artistic Director, Jolene Bailie’s solo dance career, Gearshifting Performance Works has grown slowly and cumulatively since 2000 to become a notable voice within the national dance community. Presenting shows annually since 2001 and touring extensively, Jolene Bailie and Gearshifting Performance Works are based in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Jolene Bailie received her formative training from Barbara Daurie and is a graduate of The School of Contemporary Dancers. Jolene holds a B.A. Honours degree in Dance from The University of Winnipeg, a Teacher’s Certificate with Distinction from The Royal Academy of Dance and a Masters of Fine Arts in Dance from The American Dance Festival/Hollins University. Committed to ongoing training, Jolene has also trained at institutions, schools and with Master Teachers all over North America.

Jolene’s dance career has predominantly been self-initiated and self-produced. The first ten years of her career were primarily focused on solo work. During this time she performed almost 300 full length solo concerts and worked with Stephanie Ballard, Marc Boivin, Rachel Browne, Marie-Josée Chartier, Denise Clarke, Deborah Dunn, Don Halquist, Joe Laughlin, Brent Lott, Jim May (re-staging of two solos from Rooms by Anna Sokolow), Gaile Petursson-Hiley, Julia Sasso and Nina Watt (re-staging of the suite of five solos from Dances for Isadora, by Jose Limon). In 2002 she began developing her own choreography and in 2005 she began touring her choreography. Since her last performance in Toronto in 2009, her concentration has been focused on choreography. Since 2009 she has created site specific and installation works as well as seven full length works: Everything’s Coming Up Roses and Inanimate Jungles Have Clocks, Sensory Life, Infinite World, Landscape Synergy, Inspiro, Aspects of Alterity and Hybrid Human.

As a dancer, Jolene has also worked with: Ruth Cansfield Dance, Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers, Trip Dance Company, and on numerous cherished occasions with Bill Evans and The Bill Evans Dance Company (2000-present). Jolene has been a key faculty member at The School of Contemporary Dancers since 1997.

What is your dance background?  What drew you to it?

I began taking dance at the age of four at the local community club on Thursday nights. From the early age of six I had to choose dance over another activity, I had to choose dance over Brownies. Brownies was very popular with my friends. It seemed all the girls in class signed up for Brownies. On Thursdays all my friends wore their Brownie uniform to school. I desperately wanted the outfit and wanted to earn badges.

My Mom only had one strong rule in our house and that was if we signed up for something we had to finish and we were not allowed to quit or miss. If we decided not to sign up again that was fine but we had to finish. This lesson has stayed with me to this day.

After five years of dancing for forty-five minutes a week, with one half of the class devoted to tap and the other half devoted to jazz, I added an hour of Irish dance. In adding Irish dance to the mix I also added a whole new level of politics and competition. For a good portion of our classes we were left alone to work on one step. As soon as the teacher left us to practice we would unpack our homework until the teacher returned.  We worked on our two minute dance routine all year. We did nothing else. No exercises, no warm-ups, nothing across the floor, only the recital dance. The recital was in a school gym. We worked on the two minute dance for 10 months. We had very expensive and extravagant costumes. The mothers were expected to sew the costumes. The teacher was never nice to us but we loyally returned for years. Teachers had “favorites”.

Although this is not what I would consider ideal training, the experience and ritual of rehearsing a dance repeatedly had a lasting impression.

I began assisting classes at the age of eleven. I loved assisting. I began earning money assisting right away. I earned three dollars an hour. I was never paid on time.

I could go on and on, my early training was less than ideal. Regardless, I learned really great lessons about the dance world in really odd ways and these lessons stayed with me. I got more serious about dance over time, I became a fixture at the studio, and dance was how I defined myself. I started training with Barbara Daurie in high school, I skipped school to practice and I danced as much as possible. For a long time dance was my only interest. That was a long time ago.

What drew me to dance? Well, nothing I did compared to it, so for a long time I did nothing else.

Describe your approach to movement and your creative process. What is your favourite part of your approach?

For me, choreography can happen anywhere: in my kitchen, in transit or in those few minutes before drifting off to sleep. It more actively begins the moment I step into the studio to warm-up. Whether I am choreographing for myself or for an ensemble of dancers, most often I teach or participate in a rigorous and technical warm-up class. While the warm-up material I create/and or participate in is very polar from the style of movement I choreograph, the experience of being in motion, facing challenges head on, moving in full range and being fully present are critical elements that lead into creating. For me, being physical is one of the ways I feel most fully present and alive.

When creating movement, I usually enter the studio with a series of ideas and visions I have in my imagination. I’ll also have a state of mind and energy I want to resonate through movement. I then try to create something in motion that describes what I am seeing in my mind. I usually think of an idea and then try to dance out what I think I see in my head. Then, once the idea is out in the studio, it transforms into reality either through my own body or through the dancers. Each journey, whether it makes it to the stage or is scraped in the process, is valuable as it leads into a new journey and all the shared experiences inform the final version that gets to the stage.

Favorite parts?

I have so many favorite parts. I really do love it all and I am really grateful for all my dance experiences.

That being said, one of my favorite parts is when the dance really starts to propel itself. One never really creates the dance they think they are going to create. I love the feeling of things overflowing, like a flood. The overwhelming feeling – like you just can’t keep up – usually means things are cooking.

Since 2009, Susan Chafe has created original sound for most of my works. Another favorite part is when we get our sound from Sue and I imagine her sitting in her house playing all those instruments and hearing out loud what she sees in the dance in her mind. Just thinking of her and imagining her creating is pretty wondrous.

I think my absolute favorite part is sitting in the audience and thinking “how did we get here?”, “how is this really happening?” Usually this is the last show of a run or after a few performances, once the nerves have calmed a bit.


Is there a Canadian artist/organization who has really had an impact on your artistic development and career?

There are so many artists and mentors who have had impact on my career and development. Living and working in Winnipeg has had a tremendous impact, choosing to stay in Winnipeg has also had a tremendous impact.

Geography is an important element in my daily life. The spaciousness and openness of the vast prairie landscape has shaped both my perspective and expectations. Having space around me, having room to breathe, having physical space available to organize my belongings (and trying not to accumulate too many belongings) and space to organize my thoughts are all things I cherish. Seeing the space around me is important. The daily practice of noticing subtle changes in a somewhat monotonous landscape, having the ability to see for miles and seeing the horizon regularly are things I do daily.  The effort and energy required to live with dramatic weather has also had an influence on me and my work.

Two people in Canada who have had great impact on my artistic development are Rachel Browne and Hugh Conacher. Rachel Browne’s tenacity, support, interest and love really helped me to see a more whole picture of dance and me in Winnipeg. Here are a couple random examples of Rachel’s impact: She called me once after one of my solo shows and offered to come in and help me rehearse my bow. For a numerous years I was very uncomfortable bowing at the end of my shows, as ridiculous as that seems I was just plain awful when it came to bowing. I got so nervous, I froze, I basically killed the applause (or so I was told). Rachel wasn’t involved in the majority of my shows, but that is how much she loved us all, she was very supportive. She would always call me after she came to a show and give me her generous gifts of perception, her honest gifts of perception: the good, the bad and the not so good. I remember her sharing a story about something that had left “a bad taste in her mouth”, and even though that story had nothing directly to do with anything I was doing at the time, it was in a way a natural and wise passing on of a story for me to recall and use when the time came. The time did come and with her guidance, I feel I did the right thing. For awhile we lived in the same condo building, every time I ran into her she would offer up some wisdom. She was the elder in our dance community.

Collaborating with Hugh Conacher has also been a critical part of my development. I have worked with Hugh on every single performance of my career. Hugh’s support, encouragement, understanding and belief in me and my work gave me great strength for the first ten years of my career. While these days I work pretty independent of Hugh, in the first chapter of my dance life, his presence, friendship, energy and attention helped me to gain the confidence I required to meet my goals and assisted me to pursue my artistic vision with a greater sense of self-worth.

In 30 words or less, define yourself as an artist.

I wanted to involve some of the participating Winnipeg Artists in this blog. This seemed like an opportunity to hear from their perspective as well as my own. I asked them to describe me in one word via email, suggested that it should only take a few seconds, not to think too much about it and I promised they would remain anonymous. In alphabetical order, this is what they said: clever, committed, creative, dedicated, deliberate, deliberate, driven, driven, focused, inspirational, motivational, obviously very creative, resilient, respectful, thorough, thoughtful, visual, visual and with a few more words: that the process is always approached with great respect for the vision, the art form and the people involved.

What was it that attracted you to being involved with d:mic/fac?

First and foremost, the opportunity to create, develop and perform my work.

But there are also a plethora of other reasons that magically connect like a spirograph.

My greatest mentor and dear friend, Bill Evans, has said many times, on many occasions in many technique classes, three phrases. These three phrases, as spoken by many, but passed down to me through Bill, have guided me through my entire adult life: “life is movement, movement is change”, “if you are not growing, you are shrinking” and “there are many possibilities”.

I first participated in d:mic in 2009 when I performed my self-created solo, Switchback. Aside from July 2012, when I presented my thesis concert at The American Dance Festival, the 2009 d:mic festival was the last time I performed my own solo work outside of Winnipeg.

Since this 2009 festival so much growth and so much change has occurred in my life. Since 2009 I have dedicated a lot of my focus to creating ensemble work. While I still perform solo work and really do miss performing myself, so much other stuff has happened and I accept that one can never do everything one wants to. So much has happened in all aspects of my life. So much. So very much. This much: I have tumbled out of love, got a cat, fallen into love, moved three times, got engaged, completed my MFA, created seven full length works, traveled to South Africa, spent three summers at The American Dance Festival and had two children. There is probably more, that is the first time I compiled a list like that.

To come back to the festival with my work, this time bringing an ensemble of dancers, an ensemble of dancers from Winnipeg, means a lot to me. You never know where life will take you, who will be there, how you’ll feel and what will happen. Coming back to d:mic after so much change is actually very profound for me. It is events like this and the interweave of shared circles and the opportunities to connect with artists outside of one’s own immediate geography that creates ripples that change all the changes and voila, somewhere down the road we arrive at a place that was never on the radar. It is the whole event of attending a festival or a workshop, which in this case I am doing both (also looking forward to taking class with Peggy Baker…), that changes one forever. The immersion, the commitment to dance, the energy, the witnessing, the participation, the memories, the experiences – all this then is with us, it becomes us, it is part of our history and with this history we evolve into our future histories. It’s jumping in with two feet, that’s what it’s all about.

What advice do you have for aspiring dance artists and choreographers?

Choosing between the available options is not the same thing as thinking for yourself. When you think for yourself you create your own options, options that do not exist without your own creation.

Dance as much as you can, dance in places you have never been to, dance with strangers, train with teachers you do not know, travel to attend workshops, festivals and performances. Remember, everything has a cost and nothing is ever free. Have a place to come home to. Save that 10% the DTRC urges us to. Get out of your comfort zone. Develop your own opinion. Make decisions. Get in over your head. Trust your gut. Leap and a net will appear. If it doesn’t, keep leaping, one day it will be there. Do all the dancing you absolutely need to do before you have kids. Be brave. Take responsibility for your mistakes. It is going to be very rough, try to have some fun along the way.

Briefly tell us about your newest projects. What can we expect from your performance at d:mic/fac 2013?

My work in d:mic/fac 2013 is Hybrid Human. Hybrid Human is based on sketches by Visual Artist, Wanda Koop created in the early 1990s. Contemporary living is dominated by watching a screen, be it a computer, cell phone, movie, or television. All these screens filter information and are how we make sense of experiencing our day-to-day world. For Wanda Koop a painting is another type of screen that holds the potential to morph into a mirror; as we look into Koop’s paintings we catch ourselves looking back at our own reflection. My choreography takes the silhouette character viewing the screen within the Hybrid Human paintings off the canvas and into the space, blurring the reality of what is on and off the screen. Hybrid Human explores the constructed notion of robots and ideas around the disembodied experience, consciousness, creativity, surveillance, artificial intelligence, and artificial life. The evolution of the dance was inspired by years of conversations between Wanda Koop and me. The ideas and themes explored in the work deal with topics from these conversations and shared experiences over food and within both Wanda’s studio and the dance studio.

Hybrid Human is a collaborative project that was spearheaded by Wanda Koop. The work also features Lighting and Media Design by Hugh Conacher and Original Sound by Susan Chafe. Created in conjunction with the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s exhibition, “Wanda Koop… on the edge of experience”, the work has been performed at Nuit Blanche, The Gallery Ball, The Winnipeg Art Gallery, The National Gallery of Canada, The Gas Station Arts Centre, Prairie Scene (presented by The National Arts Centre) and The Dancing on the Edge Festival.

There are five dancers in work. The cast includes Branwyn Bundon, Jillian Goening, Krista Nicholson, Christie Peters and Tiffany Thomas with costumes by Anne Armit

The future? I’m always plugging away at something. Often I tinker with ideas for a long time before I do anything with them. I do a lot of tinkering. I am premiering a new work for five dancers in May, 2014 in Winnipeg. I am also tinkering with some ideas for a solo. I am pretty sure I have one more solo show in me…. maybe in two or three years, I am in no rush.


Gearshifting Performance Works presents Hybrid Human at this year’s d: mic/fac festival as part of the Morrison Series. This piece explores the constructed notion of robots and ideas relating to the disembodied experience, consciousness, creativity, alien intelligence and artificial life.

Show dates/times:
Wednesday, August 14 at 9:00 pm
Friday, August 16 at 7:00pm
Saturday, August 17 at 2:00pm