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Meet Artistic Associate & Collaborator, Mairéad Filgate

A graduate of the Etobicoke School of the Arts and the School of Toronto Dance Theatre, Mairéad Filgate was proud to be a member of the Danny Grossman Dance Company from 2003 to 2008, and has since performed the work of many independent artists in Toronto and beyond. She is Artistic Associate of tiger princess dance projects, a core collaborator with Public Recordings (with whom she won two Dora Mavor Moore Awards), and co-founder of Throwdown Collective, a collaborative, contemporary dance company that creates site-specific and stage works. Throwdown Collective has toured their three site-specific works extensively and won two Audience Choice Awards at dance: made in canada/fait au canada for Various Concert. Her new independent project one small thing will be presented as a part of Summerworks in August 2016. Mairéad is an executive member of the Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists and a student of Women & Gender Studies at the University of Toronto.

Why did you choose to pursue dance as a career?
For so many reasons. It touches on every realm: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. It is social, political, and transformative. I can’t imagine living any other life at this point. I feel very lucky for the privilege to be able to make the choice to dance.

How did you begin your dance journey?
I started to take lessons casually around age 11 in Barrie, ON but it wasn’t until I went to see a performance at the Etobicoke School of the Arts that I really connected. My journey has been a gradual process and I continue to fall more and more in love with it.

‘Relay’ by Ame Henderson, photo by Trevor Schwellnus

Having worked with such a wide variety of choreographers, and companies, what element do you feel the most comfortable in?
It’s always a mix of feeling totally at home in the studio but also slightly uncomfortable, no matter what the work. Uncomfortable might be the wrong word but I think the work is best when it’s challenging and therefore there’s usually some discomfort. It’s about risk and pushing myself to a place beyond my comfort zone.

But in general, these days I enjoy work that is collaborative and has an improvisational element that allows me to be creative and an active agent in the creative process.

What’s one thing we don’t know about you?
I ride a motorcycle. People are always shocked by that. I also study Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto so I spend quite a bit of time thinking about things like why the first point is shocking for people.

Photo by Danielle Smyth

Why did you choose to study Sociology, Women & Gender?
For the fact that I suddenly saw the world from a new and fascinating perspective. And there are a lot of parallels and crossovers with the arts in both of these areas so I enjoy finding ways that I can integrate the two.

Aside from being a freelance dancer and a student, you are also one of the three co-founding members of Throwdown Collective – tell us more!
We’re about collaboration. All aspects of our work are done together — creative, administrative, all of it. It takes more time but I think it makes the work richer and the process really rewarding for all of us. And we have fun together — that’s what keeps us going.

We like to make very physical work and to keep pushing into new territories, challenging ourselves as performers and creators.

Throwdown Collective, photo by Ken Ewan

That sounds amazing! What can we look forward to?
Throwdown Collective is currently working to finish a new work with Lina Cruz of Montreal. We have a few other things coming up in the near future but details are still  floating as they do – so stay tuned!

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