TDSB’s Dare 2 Dance rocks the George Weston Recital Hall

As young people streamed into the Toronto Centre for the Arts  on Thursday December 8th, I don’t think the patrons of Memphis had any idea what was going on in the packed theatre next door.  It was the TDSB’s Dare 2 Dance finale and it was an incredibly exciting night of dance. Twelve schools from across the GTA competed in the finale with remarkable pieces choreographed by the students.  The evening was structured like the So You Think You Can Dance television series, complete with celebrity judges: Allen Kaeja, Debbie Nicholls-Skerritt, and Tre Armstrong. All the pieces had social justice themes such as mental illness, female empowerment, and drug abuse. After each performance, the judges gave each group feedback.

Highlights of the evening included a powerful performance about domestic abuse by an all female cast from Vaughan Road Academy; an athletic duet about drug addiction by two students from the Scarborough Centre for Alternative Studies; and the winning team from William Lyon Mackenzie C.I. who danced about isolation and acceptance.

The Dare 2 Dare competition makes dance a focal point in Toronto high schools and empowers students to be choreographers.  Dr. Christopher Spence, the Director of Education, has clearly endorsed this event in order to promote creativity, health and social justice amongst the enthusiastic students.  It was so wonderful to see young women AND men excited about dance and cheering on their friends and classmates as they bravely took the stage. For more information, please check out the TDSB’s website:

I can’t wait to see what the come up with next year …

Building Community at the CODE conference

The Council of Ontario Dance and Drama Educators ( is a phenomenal organization of elementary and secondary teachers.  Every year the organization hosts a large conference with stimulating workshops in dance and drama.  I am here in Collingwood representing DanceWorks at the Trade Fair.  I am trying to make more teachers aware of the work we do.  This year DanceWorks is offering four secondary student matinees (the most ever!), and one special post-secondary matinee.  With the new Ontario Dance Curriculum, it is great to see more and more dance organizations at CODE every year.  Teachers are very excited about the 2011/12 Season programmed by Mimi Beck.

Mimi is in Calgary this weekend for the CanDance Network’s AGM and the Fluid Festival; I am here in Collingwood for CODE; and Rosslyn Jacob-Edwards is holding down the fort in Toronto for Zata Omm’s performances of Eight Ways from Mara.  What a weekend!

A Walk Down Memory Lane

As the DanceWorks season quickly approaches and Lucy Rupert works on her first interviews of the year, I thought you might enjoy a few photos.  This season you will see several established and emerging dance artists we have worked with in the past.  In particular, William Yong, Peter Chin, Sylvain Emard, and Sylvie Bouchard are repeat visitors to our Mainstage.  You might remember …

William Yong’s Frames











and Peter Chin’s Stupa.








Michael Greyeyes’ from thine eyes includes the magnificent Claudia Moore.









And of course, the lovely Sylvie Bouchard graces the DanceWorks’ stage again this season. 


DanceWorks 2011/12 Season – Unearthed!

Ceinwen Gobert in from thine eyes by Michael Greyeyes

” The 2011-12 DanceWorks Mainstage Series features world premieres by four of Toronto’s compelling contemporary dance companies and welcomes works on tour from Ottawa and Montreal. These programs consider central concepts of our human condition: mortality, spirituality, the urgent need for love and understanding; and a desire to unlock the true nature of artistic expression. Please join us at Harbourfront Centre’s Enwave Theatre for each and every one of the Mainstage Series programs. The strength, clarity and authenticity of these artistic voices are sure to delight, challenge and inspire you!” 

Mimi Beck, Dance Curator

To see clips of the Mainstage artists, go to our YouTube Channel

Long Trips and Long Shadows – an interview with Jennifer Dallas, Artistic Director of Kemi Contemporary Dance Projects

Longer Than a Shadow

A DanceWorks CoWorks Series presentation

Dancemakers Centre for Creation

55 Mill St., Cannery Bldg. (#58), Studio #313

Thurs. Feb 24 – Sat. Feb 26, 2011 at 8pm; Sun. Feb 27 at 2pm

Tickets: Call DanceWorks at 416 204 1082

Interview by Lucy Rupert

Lucy Rupert: What does the title Longer Than a Shadow mean for you?

Jennifer Dallas: To exist beyond what can be seen, and to see more than what is physically present.

LR: How did the collaboration with Bienvenue Bazie, an artist from Burkina Faso come to be?

JD: Bienvenue and I met in Lagos, Nigeria a year ago as guest artists at an international festival: Turefesta. After the festival I travelled to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso with Bienvenue. It became clear then that we would find a way to work together.

LR: I know you have had many travel experiences with dance. Of all all the places you’ve travelled to dance, which one influenced you the most, and why?

JD: I have performed, taught, and studied in Vienna, Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, and across Canada three times as a solo dancer with the Afro beat band Mr. Something Something. Many of the images in Zetetica [a work that will be performed in Longer Than a Shadow] come from my time in Ethiopia. I am writing to you from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso where I am creating a new piece entitled Converse with Bienvenue.

Each journey to Africa and across Canada has left its mark on me and influenced my work. I love the way my character is challenged in West Africa and yet I also feel a sense of calm there.

LR: If you had to pick 5 words to describe your production, what would they be?

JD: Inviting, dynamic, transporting, unique, fecund.

LR: What do you dream for the future of your company?

JD: I would like to spend six months to a year in West Africa in order to research and work with colleagues and students, and deepen my voice as a solo artist. Touring my work and teaching internationally are also priorities. 

 This interview has been condensed and edited.

View a performance extract

Buy tickets: 416 204 1082

Kemi Contemporary Dance Projects is pleased to offer a community class
with Burkinabe artist Bienvenue Bazié.
Come and dance away the cold
with movement from the traditional dances of Burkina Faso. Suitable for all levels!

The class is FREE!
Dancemakers Centre for Creation, 55 Mill St, Building #55, Studio #313
February 27, 2011 from 5pm – 6:30pm
Please email Kemiprojects(at) to secure your spot.

An interview with the formidable Fortier of Fortier Danse-Création


A DanceWorks Mainstage Event

February 11 -12, 2011 at 8pm at the Fleck Dance Theatre

Tickets: $33.50 General Admission / $22.50 Seniors, Students, CADA. Call 416 973 4000 or click here

Interview by Lucy Rupert

Lucy Rupert: What compels you to work as a soloist?

Paul-André Fortier: Working solo is a singular adventure. Instead of transposing your vision on to another body, the channel is direct. Your mind and your body work as one unit, with no adaptation and no distortion.

LR: What drew you to work with Rober Racine and Robert Morin, your collaborators on Cabane?

PAF: I am always attracted to collaborators that are more skilled than I am. They scare me and they challenge me. They make me better.

Racine, the composer, has always collaborated with dancers, so my proposal to work together was not unexpected. Robert Morin, the video and film maker, is my icon. Through working with him, I got to know him personally. And what a man – what a creator. A force to be reckoned with. He will not allow anything to deter him from his goal; this is an important lesson for me.

LR: What was the inspiration or launching point for Cabane?

PAF: While I was dancing Solo 30×30 in Nancy, France, Cabane imposed itself. I was dancing Solo 30×30 on the roof of a cabin in the middle of a huge parking lot. Dancing for 30 days on that roof made me realize that there was great potential for a project where the cabin would be the focal point.

LR: How was the set devised?

PAF: I designed the cabin based on ones I had seen in Japan at a contemporary art show. My friend Daniel Vallée then constructed the cabin based on my specifications, and it became ours. The cabin really took on all its dimensions during the rehearsal period and became a real character. So now instead of a duet, we have a trio.

LR: You have been dancing for over forty years. What continues to inspire you in the dance milieu in Canada?

PAF: Passion, passion, passion.

View a performance extract

Buy tickets

Fresh Typecasting

Fresh Typecasting: An interview with Pamela Rasbach of Typecast Dance Company

Missed Connections

A DanceWorks CoWorks Series Event

January 13-15, 2011 at 8pm at the Winchester Street Theatre

Tickets: $18 General Admission / $15 CADA

Call 416 204 1082 or click here

Interview by Lucy Rupert

Lucy Rupert: Where did the company name “Typecast” originate?

Pamela Rasbach: When Nicole Cornish, Matt Sweet and I all got together in 2009 to discuss what the name of our company would be, we came up with a few names  – many of which are still inside jokes within the company – but Nicole Cornish came up with Typecast. We wanted to capture the idea that young people can often be “typecast” (i.e. young people do not typically run dance companies) so the name Typecast fit our vision quite well.

LR: Is there a personal inspiration for Missed Connections? Have you experienced the “failure of social media as a means of real human connection” (to quote your website)?

PR: It’s an idea that was on my mind for a while until I figured out how to say it through dance. It’s funny – through creating this piece I’ve clarified my point of view, yet now I see it everywhere. I have personally experienced missed connections in my life; those moments you share with people, which seem so significant at the time, and then they are gone … a mini tragedy.  “What if?” is probably the saddest question.

LR: What is the thematic focus or aesthetic standpoint for Typecast?

PR: In one word, the aim is to be fresh.

LR: What have been your strongest artistic influences so far?

PR: A lot of my influences are dance related, but not necessarily choreographic. The main influences in my work come from teachers, directors, even artistic pioneers … people who have shaped the way we create and learn dance.

LR: If you had to pick three words to describe Missed Connections, what would they be?

PR: Disjointed. Technological. Robotic.

Tickets: $18 General Admission / $15 CADA: Call 416 204 1082 or click here

An Interview with Victor Quijada, artistic director of RUBBERBANDance Group

choreographer of Loan Sharking

Presented by DanceWorks at the Enwave Theatre November 26 and 27th at 8pm

Interview conducted by Lucy Rupert

LR: If you had to choose four words to describe your work Loan Sharking what would they be?

VQ: Greatest Hits Vol. 2

LR: From your point of view, what are the specific similarities between b-boying, contemporary and classical dance?

VQ: There are several similarities. For example, when a dancer spontaneously creates movement phrases that call and answer with the music, or counterpoint and syncopate against a soundtrack. Another similarity between these dance styles is the ability to execute the most virtuosic physical maneuvers.

LR: Where do you find your points of inspiration for launching into a new work?

VQ: Inspiration is sometimes a small bundle of ideas, concepts, or questions that must be tested or proven. I am often interested in finding new solutions to old problems or questions.  I see myself as a storyteller and I am interested in witnessing an individual’s journey.

LR: What do you dream for the future of your company?

VQ: I hope to continue developing RUBBERBANDance Group’s choreographic style, using tools that exist solely when contemporary dance is paired with urban dance. I hope to expand my movement vocabulary and creation techniques and to broaden the impact of my work in the international dance community.

LR: What do you see in the future of dance in Canada?

VQ: When considering visual art in our post Hip Hop world we have come to accept that whether you are painting on canvas for an art gallery or creating spray-painted outdoor murals, artistry has occurred. Similarly, dance creators and performers that are raised in this generation will possess information from urban, classical, and contemporary dance forms. I believe that this is the next progression in dance. I believe that this is the future.

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Interview with Kate Hilliard, choreographer of ‘The Brutes’

The BrutesA DanceWorks CoWorks Series event

The Theatre Centre, 1087 Queen St W

Thurs. Sept 9 – Sat. Sept 11, 2010, 8pm

Sat. Sept 11, 2pm

Interview by Lucy Rupert

LR: Where does the title “The Brutes” come from?

KH: When I was a child I owned a book called The Little Brute Family by Russell and Lillian Hoban, a quirky tale about a family of grumpy pessimists. They discover a beam of sunshine, which infects their dark little hearts and the family learns to appreciate the brighter side of life.

LR: What is “The Brutes” all about?

KH: I’m interested in how people react to adversity – I believe that it challenges our self-esteem. How do we see ourselves and how does self-actualization influence our perception of the world?

LR: Your dramaturge (Corinne Donly from the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in NYC) has a prominent part in your work; how did you develop this relationship and what does it mean to your work?

KH: I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Corinne, as our differing backgrounds serve the work we make together very well. Corinne and I were introduced at The Springboard Professional Project for young choreographers and she has played a vital role in crafting the spoken work used in The Brutes and influencing the way the dancers have been directed.

The BrutesLR: How did you choose your performers for this piece?

KH: I gravitated toward these performers – selected through an audition in Montreal – because of their abilities to craft unique physical behaviours.

LR: What do you dream next for yourself as a creator?

KH: I would like to continue working with the people with whom I’ve had the fortune of working over the past few years.