2015/2016 Mainstage Season Announced!

DanceWorks 2015-16 Mainstage Series

DanceWorks’ 2015-16 Mainstage Series will bring works by three Ontario-based choreographers, and one each from Quebec and British Columbia to Toronto’s lakeside theatres as part of Harbourfront’s NextSteps Series.

Local artist Julia Sasso will remount a seminal piece presented by DanceWorks in 1997 that continues to address current social concerns, while Peter Chin and DA Hoskins will create world premieres for the Mainstage. The two touring companies will present new repertoire in return engagements with the series. Montreal’s Daniel Léveillé Danse last had a successful run at DanceWorks in 2008. With their popular urban style, Vancouver’s 605 Collective will build on their theatrical debut here in Fall, 2013, which included two sold-out student matinees.

With two world premieres, two Toronto premieres and one remount, the Mainstage series brings our human individuality into sharp relief – the state of solitude and its emotional resonance; the substance of social power dynamics; how we intertwine and form allegiances; the transformation caused by loss, separation and moving on. The dances highlight the fabric of personal interactions, from the upbeat to the tragic.
Mimi Beck, Dance Curator

peter chin

Sept 24-26, 2015 DW 212 – Woven by Peter Chin, Tribal Crackling Wind

Woven draws on the metaphor of intertwined threads of woven art, and the spirit of traditional weaving communities. Choreographer Peter Chin has worked directly with weaving communities in Cambodia, Flores Indonesia, Oaxaca Mexico and Toronto, also gathering his international cast of dancers from those four countries. During a final creative residency at Dancemakers Centre for Creation, he will unite the cast of five dancers once more, joined by a musician/performer and a back-strap weaver who will weave on stage over the course of the presentation. Following its world premiere in September, 2015, Woven will tour internationally.



Oct 23-24, 2015 DW 213 – Solitudes Solo by Daniel Léveillé, Daniel Léveillé Danse

Solitudes Solo leads us – ever so painlessly – to the difficult emotional states of our human condition. In this grouping of spare, elegant dances, performed in silence and to Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, Léveillé highlights five performers who explore what it means to be alone. Winner of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ ) Award 2013 for the best choreographic work presented in Quebec in the 2012-2013 season, Solitudes Solo appears on its cross-Canada tour. Léveillé received the Dora Award for Outstanding Choreography for Amour, acide et noix, presented by DanceWorks in 2004.


sportinglife_1 by Nicole Rivelli

Mar 3-5, 2016 DW 214 Sporting Life by Julia Sasso, Julia Sasso dances

Choreographer Julia Sasso will re-envision and remount her Dora nominated work (Outstanding Choreography, Outstanding Performance – Mark Shaub) that examines the nature of violent behaviour. Placing five characters in conflict, Sporting Life reveals the ridiculousness, vulnerability, pain and potential for redemption through a series of vignettes linked together in theme, movement style and content. With an arc that is clear, potent and often darkly humorous, this highly anticipated, rigorously physical, technically and emotionally challenging piece is set on one female and four male dancers. Sound score is by Sasso and Eric Cadesky. Rehearsal assistant is original cast member Julia Aplin.


dietrich group

Apr 7-9, 2016 DW 215 Jackie Burroughs is Dead (and what are you going to do about it?)

Artistic Producer: Danielle Baskerville, Choreographer: DA Hoskins

This world premiere focuses on how energy reverberates and grows through exchange – an echoing forever permeating the present and speaking of the residuals of loss. Throughout the creative process with DA Hoskins, dancers Danielle Baskerville, Luke Garwood & Robert Kingsbury drew upon personal experiences, including the loss of Canadian stage and film actress Jackie Burroughs, who died in 2010. Burroughs was a highly dedicated contemporary dance enthusiast whose enduring presence inspired many dance artists throughout her lifetime. The work explores the power of reaction – how we observe, absorb and ultimately respond.



May 7, 2016 DW 216 Vital Few by 605 Collective, Artistic Co-Directors Josh Martin & Lisa Gelley

DanceWorks will present 605 Collective’s spring, 2016 touring repertoire, Vital Few that highlights autonomy and responsibility within a collective consciousness, based on individual dancers’ choice-making within a group dynamic. The work features six dancers who share in the creative process.


2014/2015 Mainstage wrap up!

Our 2014/2015 DanceWorks Mainstage season has come to a close

Thank you to all who attended, participated and supported DanceWorks this year!

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adelheid 2

“This work is made of, and for all of us.” – John Newton

“The ordinary throws itself together out of forms, flows, powers, pleasures, encounters, distractions, drudgery, denials, practical solutions, shape-shifting forms of violence, daydreams, and opportunities lost or found. Or it falters, fails. But either way we feel its pull.” – Kathleen Stewart



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“Dancing is the best medicine all over the world :)” – Martina Andelová

“Vincent’s charisma is extraordinary! This is a rich, touching evening of transformation.” – John Newton


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Emard BY Jean Baptiste Bucau DANCERS Neil Sochasky, Justin Gionet

“It’s a gorgeous work!” – Tal Aronson


norman 2

forcier 1

“Wonderful show! Bravo Forcier/Norman cast & crew!” – Dawne Carleton

“[Scars are All the Rage]’s intense focus, complex simplicity and bravery to stay in the worlds of the uncomfortable and fearful were exciting and challenging to experience.” – Brandy Leary


Bageshree 2015-15

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“Paratopia is an awesome show! I LOVED it!” – Ruchira Sawh

“Today, my students got to experience the rhythmic similarities between kathak (a centuries-old North Indian dance) and hip hop. It’s through connections & collaborations like these that I can imagine a new future in Indian communities that dismantle anti-Blackness.” – Roopa Cheema


Interview with Bageshree Vaze

Bageshree Vaze spoke to us about her upcoming show Paratopia

April 23-25 | 8:00pm | Harbourfront Centre Theatre



DanceWorks: You will be featuring excerpts from past works such as Tarana, Avatar (9), and the CanAsian Dance Festival commissioned-work In My (Dis)Place, along with a new commissioned group work entitled Paratopia.  You say “the word ‘Paratopia’ connotes innovation and synthesis”. Are the separate works in Paratopia connected for you? How have the various elements and dance styles informed each other?

Bageshree Vaze: The word paratopia is actually translated as ‘displacement,’ but is a coined term based on a number of interpretations. I learned about the concept from a scholarly dance article written by Anurima Banerjee, in which she describes paratopias of performance in relation to Indian classical dance. The idea is that a paratopia is a place of alterity, one which can exist alongside mainstream culture, and can be both a reflection and a reaction to it, resulting in innovation and synthesis. Banerjee describes modern-day Indian dance performance as creating an ‘alternate’ world, and it made me think about how Indian dance, while perceived as traditional, is constantly defining its identity in a new time and place. Indian classical dances first originated in very unique settings of temples and royal courts, but found themselves thrust onto the modern stage in the mid-twentieth century. They weren’t necessarily created for this environment, but have now become shaped by modern production values and audiences. Contemporary dance practice in the Western world has evolved in a similar way, as a reaction to what existed before, and one sees the parameters of the dance practice evolving with each decade. In a sense, we are all trying to define ourselves in our changing ‘paratopia’ reality.

“The idea is that a paratopia is a place of alterity”


The separate works in Paratopia are connected in this way, in that while they depict different parameters of Kathak dance, they have all been created with this vision of a new place and time. They are choreographic works that draw from the essence of Kathak technique, but were created in Canada, with different mentors and collaborators from non-Indian backgrounds. I think it’s a great reflection that the whole notion of what ‘contemporary’ means is changing and being re-interpreted, even though ironically, what people perceive as ‘contemporary’ dance has become quite traditional and solidified. For the new work involving artists trained in other styles such as urban and contemporary dance, we are using Kathak rhythmic and movement language as the choreographic base, but trying to open up more movement possibilities drawing from these different techniques.


Bageshree 2015-15

DW: You write that “people think of Kathak dance as traditional, but it is very contemporary, and evolves everyday.” What excites you most about the evolution of Kathak dance in your own practice?
BV: There is no reason not to think of Kathak as contemporary – what we identify today as its signature technical qualities were defined in the 20th century, probably the same time frame in which contemporary dance was codified. But because Kathak originates from a very ancient, non-Western culture, people will naturally think of it as traditional. There is also the perception of Indian culture as ‘exotic’ because of the association with mythological characters and Hindu gods and goddesses, and much of the storytelling in Indian classical dances depicts this element.

However, because Kathak choreography is drawn from the language of the tabla drums, it is open to individual interpretation. While dancers learn a certain amount of material from their teachers, they are encouraged to develop command over the rhythmic language and use it to create their own work – it’s not just about pressing ‘play’ on the CD or iPod player! I have been very fortunate to work with an incredible tabla player, Vineet Vyas, and how good your tabla accompanist is can make or break your work as a Kathak dancer. And even though nowadays there is little emphasis on the need for dancers to also have a solid knowledge in music, my vocal music training has aided me greatly in creating music for dance. When I was younger, I was always hampered by the fact that there is little access to music for Indian classical dance, and that led me to create the music for my ‘Tarana’ and ‘Ragas and Rhythms’ CDs, which feature songs that can be choreographed and performed. I’m happy to say that thanks to iTunes, one can find a number of interpretations of my songs by Kathak dancers all over the world (you can find these on YouTube!)

“How good your tabla accompanist is can make or break your work as a Kathak dancer”


DW: Your website says “Inspired by The Matrix movies (which were inspired by Indian philosophy), Paratopia combines Kathak rhythms and dance with Urban/Hip Hop beats and choreography.” What was your process for integrating ideas, images or themes from ‘The Matrix’ into dance?

BV: The Matrix is really a starting point for inspiration. The movies are based on the idea of the world as an illusionary place, one that is not real. This comes from the Hindu philosophical concept of ‘Maya,’ in which humans must navigate through an illusionary world. This made me think of the connection to Paratopia, and the idea that we are experiencing an alternate reality that is constantly changing and being displaced, and it is often difficult to determine what is real and unreal. The agents in the Matrix are metaphors of how people are not supposed to stray from homogeneity, and the battle of human life is finding a balance between resistance and harmony. We now live in a globalized, Internet-connected world where ‘homogeneity’ is constantly being questioned and re-interpreted. So the new work will draw from this idea of using a ‘code’ to navigate through an alternate world with different bodies and languages to determine what reality actually can be with co-existing opposition and agreement. You won’t see battling agents in suits or airbending (well maybe a little bit), but rather a dance piece that is based on Kathak and Tabla rhythmic ‘code,’ and drawing from a base of rhythmic beat language one finds in both Kathak and urban dance choreography.


April 23-25, 2015


Harbourfront Centre Theatre


Interview with Forcier/Norman

We spoke with Marie France Forcier and Tracey Norman about their upcoming double bill Forcier/Norman

March 12-14 | 8pm |  Harbourfront Centre Theatre


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DanceWorks: “The basis for [Norman’s] dance is the energy that exists and transforms between people and its impact on relationships, loss, attraction and decision. The phenomenon of one person’s thoughts or emotions affecting another’s mood, otherwise known as emotional contagion or synchrony, is explored physically.” Tracey, in exploring emotional transference, what were the ways or processes you used to approach it through movement?

“dance is really a communal experience”


Tracey Norman: Well, I would say that first of all the interest grew naturally out of working in the studio on past creative processes and becoming aware of the energy shifts and impact we have on one another. As a choreographer, you’re somewhat removed at times from the multitude of sensorial experiences taking place or the changing emotions among a group, but it also gives me a vantage point where I often feel inside/outside of the group and can witness or feel things unfolding between people or in response to what I propose. It’s an interesting space to study group dynamics. Additionally, I’d just come off of creating two duets (Witness and 43°N 79°W), one in which I was working with the observer theory or the affect witnessing has on the other’s experience, and another duet involving the use of our senses to navigate space and relationships. Naturally, I carried over some of the ways of working/researching continuing from where I’d left off with those processes.

The other interesting thing is that over the process of this work, I’ve worked with different dancers and witnessed how tasks and ideas affected people differently and in turn affected the group differently. When we initially began, we played a lot with locating emotion in the body and looked for ways to pass this among the group, largely improvisatory in nature. The dance is really a communal experience and so often we performed tasks in rehearsal that involved the idea of community – for example, I would bring a movement idea to the studio and each dancer would have a chance to work on their own with the movement and then we would share/learn each others’ movements and build phrases from there.

“We played a lot with locating emotion in the body”


I love working with stillness or interruptions to movement and having tasks within those and this was often a way to play with checking in with the group. Eye contact is a big part of the dance, but so are other senses – listening, touching and the less tangible ideas of “feeling” connected or disconnected from another. Often warm-ups or play found their way into the choreography – for example, asking them to start and stop in unison without looking at one another as a warm-up has become embedded into sections of the choreography. Or often I would ask them to only go as far apart from each other as they could without losing their feeling of connection/energy or the opposite. Then there were methods of creating material in which the rules were they were literally not allowed to come out of physical contact or creating dances in contact which then were split apart… and what is it like to solo a contact dance. Overall, trying to approach the idea of emotional transference from many different angles and as the dance started to build, looking for ways to highlight what is already in the room through imagery, pacing, sound, etc. For example, I didn’t intend or plan on say Beth (Despres) and Brittany (Duggan) having a tender relationship in the dance or Beth having some sort of quiet leadership or control but that emerged and we ride along with it or highlight it.

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DW: “In continuation with her research on the post-traumatic in choreography, Forcier explores the somatic repercussions of abuse. Suggestive, the works indirectly highlights the rise of trauma culture and our growing desensitization to violence and sexual voyeurism for their entertainment value.” Marie France, what about this topic possess you to continually explore it?

Marie France Forcier: A few years ago now, I started cultivating an appreciation for the aesthetics of discomfort in dance and other art forms. From first manifesting in my preferences for other artists’ work, this appreciation eventually seeped into my choreography; unconsciously at first, and then in response to a growing insistence of dissociative-like imagery and emotional dissonance in my practice. I eventually recognized that these repeating images were involuntary reflections of certain post-traumatic states I had embodied a decade earlier following a series of psychologically traumatic incidents. Curious to know whether I could turn from a passive participant to an active one in these aesthetic drives, I dedicated my master’s thesis (at York University) to the investigation of the post-traumatic lens in the choreographer’s work.

“kinaesthetic recognition is a powerful tool to fight off isolation”


The research and the dances works produced, beyond changing my paradigm of choreography and helping me embrace the reality of my post-traumatic life for its artistic potential, prompted several audience members and fellow academics– most of whom were complete strangers– to approach me and share their own experiences of psychological trauma, having recognized part of themselves in the performances. This made me realize two things: that kinaesthetic recognition is a powerful tool to fight off isolation, and that personal violation is far more common than we feel comfortable acknowledging as a society.

Of course, I don’t imagine that I will keep producing work around PTSD forever, but it was important for me to apply what I had gleaned over the course of my academic research to at least one professional process, to see how working with mature performers, in different conditions, may create opportunities for bolder, more impactful outcomes.

“I started cultivating an appreciation for the aesthetics of discomfort in dance and other art forms”



DW: For both Marie France and Tracey, how do you understand the two pieces intersecting, informing and influencing each other? What do you anticipate for the audience’s experience as a whole?

TN: I don’t think we set out on this production planning to connect the works thematically or create obvious links between the works necessarily. That said, Marie France and I are at similar places in our careers, we’re both working in different ways at this point in our careers than we were earlier on, we share a mentor/outside eye in Julia Sasso, and Marie France was an integral part of the creation of my work for the production as an interpreter/collaborator. Therefore, I believe there are connections and influences we have on each other’s work.

We both create contemporary work and collaborate with our dancers in terms of developing the material, yet our work is quite different and complimentary. I think we’re both exploring elements of the human condition but the tone and environment in each work is clearly different. I feel like there are moments of darkness or desolate images in my work but the overall quality is one of lightness or constant connection, whereas with Marie’s I feel there are moments of absurdity or sadistic humour that momentarily allow you to reflect on the tension in the work. So maybe this is another way the works compliment one another.

“we’re both exploring elements of the human condition but the tone and environment is clearly different”


I also think that when you’re involved with a partner on production over a long period of time, you have conversations about the works, view each others’ work-in-progress and in the case of Marie she was a collaborator in creating my work and so there are ways we’ve been influencing and informing each other all along. This is what I love. We’re not so much creating apart from each other and then coming together for the week of production, we’re talking as collaborators do, supporting each other’s processes and discussing how these works might look and feel together.

Overall, I think the audience will feel how these works are almost like two sides of a coin and I think there are likely intersections and implications the works have on one another that I won’t comprehend until I sit in the audience and view the two works beside each other. I think the audience will also experience the fearlessness, intimacy, and commitment of the performers and the holistic integration of the musical compositions and lighting design as integral elements of the production.

“these works are almost like two sides of a coin”


MFF: Tracey has pretty much just said it all… I would add that the works are indeed very different, but in a way that I hope will highlight one another’s specificities. The audience will be exposed to abstraction, refinement and movement craft with what goes between, and to implicit imagery, emotional discomfort and perhaps a dose of cognitive dissonance with Scars are All the Rage.

In my opinion, programs that reflect such range are very interesting because they give their audiences a chance to process dance– an abstract and ephemeral medium– by comparison, hence providing greater opportunity for appreciating the nuances and/or intentions inherent to each work.



Marie France Forcier : Scars are All the Rage 

Tracey Norman : what goes between

March 12-14


Harboufront Centre Theatre


Interview with Sylvain Émard

We spoke with Sylvain Émard about his piece Ce n’est pas la fin du monde (It’s not the end of the world)
Join us for a one night only performance on Saturday Feb 28th at 8pm (followed by a reception and silent auction)

Fleck Dance Theatre  |  www.danceworks.ca

Emard BY Jean Baptiste Bucau DANCERS Neil Sochasky, Justin Gionet

DanceWorks: Ce n’est pas la fin du monde (It’s not the end of the world) showcases male dancers.What inspired you to create a piece performed by only men? Does this work explore gender?

Sylvain Émard: I find working with either an exclusive male or female cast offers a wider range of expression. The audience’s perception is different simply by the fact that the dance is not trapped in a love/seduction mode by seeing men and women sharing the stage. A same sex cast doesn’t exclude that but it is not confined by it.

Without being the main subject of the piece, manhood is certainly an important aspect of it. Because we have in front of us a group of seven men dancing, we, as an audience, watch the dance through a gender point of view. Being a male choreographer, I certainly project myself into the work.


“By using urgency as a key motivation for movement it allowed us, the dancers and me, to access the tension I was looking for”


DW: Your website states, “I am trying to develop dance that is anchored in everyday life, without losing its poetry. I want to concentrate on what is at the very heart of life in our society.” What are some of the processes you use in attempting to achieve this? How do you explore the everyday through aesthetic dance vocabulary?

SÉ: It has to do with a state of mind. I am exploring a body language that is in phase with today’s world. More recently, my concerns have more to do with how we as humans survive while facing the world’s drastic transformation. For example, Fragments – Volume I and Ce n’est pas la fin du monde were both based on the notion of urgency. By using urgency as a key motivation for movement it allowed us, the dancers and me, to access the tension I was looking for.


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“I am always looking for the right balance between strength and vulnerability”


DW: You also state that “each performance is necessarily of the moment. It follows that dance must be constantly renewed.” It seems that immediacy is an important aspect of your work. How do you keep things alive and responsive on stage?

SÉ: Dance is a transitory form of art. It is a living art and I like to take advantage of it by allowing myself to make changes if I feel it will serve the piece. I see those changes like a form of dialogue between the dancers and me. As they perform the piece more and more they also infuse the work with their own sensitivity which make me see the piece differently and stimulates me.

Also, I am aware that my work can be very challenging for the dancers. I am always looking for the right balance between strength and vulnerability. Making changes can also contribute to maintain an appropriate degree of presence and awareness on stage.


Sylvain Émard : Ce n’est pas la fin du monde

Saturday February 28, 2015

Fleck Dance Theatre 8pm


Breathing with Animals


January, 2015 Mark Mann Response #5 to what goes between Rehearsal

Choreographer: Tracey Norman / Interpreters: Jesse Dell, Beth Despres, Brittany Duggan & Sky Fairchild-Waller / Studio 103, Artscape Youngplace, Toronto 

The big change between this rehearsal and the last one I attended, of course, was Jesse dancing in place of Marie France. But for me personally, another big change was coming into the rehearsal with a strong feeling of familiarity for the work. I was thinking this morning about how we usually only see a piece once, and so watching a performance is often like meeting a stranger for the first time, sharing an intimate encounter, and then parting again forever.

It’s one of those cliches that thankfully actually happens sometimes: you meet someone at a party or sit beside them on a plane, and suddenly you just connect. You speak your mind, and they do…

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Sylvain Émard Danse: Ce n’est pas la fin du monde

For one night only, Sylvain Émard Danse will be performing Ce n’est pas la fin du monde at Fleck Dance Theatre

February 28th, 2015 8pm (followed by an audience appreciation reception and silent auction)


Québec’s award-winning choreographer, Sylvain Émard of Sylvain Émard Danse, will bring the critically acclaimed Ce n’est pas la fin du monde (It’s not the end of the world) featuring seven male dancers in a ritual of resistance and adaptation to the passing of time. Driven by doubt and a lust for life, they are searching for their place, sketching the contours of multiple identities. Carried away by their instincts and the power of the group, their only language is subtle, energetic movement, the music of bodies electrified by a shared feeling of urgency. Dance seems to be the best means of coming to terms with the world and of being transformed, the better to blend in.

To purchase tickets, visit: www.danceworks.ca

Above the Fire


December 2014 – Mark Mann Response #2 to Scars are All the Rage Rehearsal

Choreographer: Marie France Forcier/ Interpreters: Justine Comfort, Molly Johnson, Louis Laberge-Côté/ Location: hub 14, Toronto

I’m going to wander around a bit here with this response and not worry too much where I step. It’s the only way I know to get in. The funny thing about being a writer, for me, is that I sometimes think I have the least faith in words of anybody. They don’t seem all that needful, or ever really true enough. The body never lies though, right?

My body was wincing at your rehearsal on Monday, and making little sounds of shock and denial, and I think I even put my hand in my mouth. I don’t think it’s too strong to say that this piece is terrifying. I mean: it’s going to fuck people up. I’m glad you’ve decided to go all the…

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