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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Jeni LeGon (1916-2012)

 Jeni Legon with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson / Photo courtesy of American Tap Dance Foundation archives

>> by Jacqueline Hansen
African-American dancer, teacher and actor Jeni LeGon died on Friday, December 7th, 2012, at age ninety-six in Vancouver. According to the American Tap Dance Foundation (ATDF), LeGon was one of the first African-American women to develop a career as a tap soloist. She challenged stereotypical female roles at the time, by donning pants when others wore skirts, and performing toe stands, acrobatics and complex rhythmic dancing. LeGon, born Jennie Bell, grew up on the south side of Chicago. The ATDF says LeGon landed her first job in musical theatre when she was thirteen years old. It was the beginning of an incredible career that spanned her lifetime, and included performing with stars such as Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, the Nicholas Brothers, Fred Astaire and Fats Waller. LeGon also played roles in Hollywood films, including the 1935 musical Hooray for Love, at a time when the industry was primarily white-dominated. LeGon settled in Vancouver in 1969 where she became a well-respected and beloved teacher. Canada's National Film Board produced the documentary Jeni LeGon: Living in a Great Big Way in 1999. LeGon is survived by her husband, drummer Frank Clavin, and will be remembered as a great dancer and teacher and as a pioneer for black performers.
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Friday, November 23, 2012

Les Grands Ballets makes history in Oman

>> by Cynthia Brett
On November 12th and 13th, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal was the first Canadian company to perform at Oman's Royal Opera House Muscat since its inauguration in 2011. In a triple-bill titled "Soiree Stravinsky" the company performed Stijn Celis' Sacre and Noce, set to Stravinsky masterpieces, as well as Anima to music by Chopin and Scarlatti. This marks the second time Les Grands has visited the Middle East. The roughly 1000-seat opera house was commissioned personally by the state's Sultan, and is therefore operated by the monarchy. After the final performance, Artistic Director Gradmir Pankov, Executive Director Alain Dancyger, President Constance V. Pathy and Stijn Celis attended a reception held in their honour, where a representative of culture from the Sultan's entourage expressed gratitude for the company's participation in their vision to present more contemporary works.
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Canada's first Integrated Dance Theatre Conference

Photo Courtesy of MoMo Dance Theatre

>> by Naomi Brand 
On November 16th, 2012, the first Canadian Integrated Dance Theatre Conference took place near Calgary. The conference brought together company leaders from five performance companies from across Canada that work with people with and without disabilities. The four-day event took place in an accessible retreat centre in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and consisted of workshops, presentations and discussions facilitated by conference participants. The gathering was hosted by Calgary's MoMo Dance Theatre and attended by Propeller Dance (Ottawa), Les Productions des Pieds des Mains (Montréal), iDance (Edmonton) and Theatre Terrific (Vancouver). The conference was funded through the Canada Council for the Arts' new Deaf and Disability Arts office.
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Aszure Barton honoured in New York

>> by Cynthia Brett
On November 16th, world-renowned choreographer Aszure Barton received the 2012 Arts and Letters Award from the Canadian Association of New York (CANY) at its annual charity ball for New York's Canadian community. The award recognizes Canadians who have made significant contributions to communities in both Canada and the United States. Proceeds from this year's ball will support students in financial need at Barton's alma mater, Canada's National Ballet School.
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Saturday, November 10, 2012

"Together in Dance" forum hosted by Flato Markham Theatre

>> by Samantha Mehra
On October 14th, Flato Markham Theatre hosted its inaugural "Together in Dance" forum at the Markham Civic Centre, which brought together artists, teachers, scholars, writers, administrators and entrepreneurs working in the dance milieu in York Region and Toronto. Proceedings began with opening remarks by Eric Larivière, the theatre’s general manager. Extending a warm welcome to participants and outlining the theatre’s continued mission to engage in discussion with various facets of the dance community to elicit positive change, he noted that this forum was a tool to create the discussion and togetherness the dance community needs for a healthy ecology. Larivière's remarks were followed by a series of short presentations about success stories in community engagement, featuring speakers Dee Adrian, Emily Cheung, Bonnie Craig, Dr. Mary Fogarty, Vivine Scarlett, and recent winner of the Walter Carsen Prize, Menaka Thakkar. Ontario's Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, The Honourable Michael Chan, was on hand to congratulate the organizers of the forum and to present panelists with certificates. Following a Bollywood dance workshop with Shiamak Davar (Interational Dance School), independent artist/consultant and former Toronto Arts Council dance program officer Soraya Peerbaye spoke of the state of dance in Markham and York Region, and revealed plans to develop a comprehensive inventory of individuals and institutions engaged in dance in the area. After a series of roundtable discussions on the topics of the Markham Theatre, education and dance organizations and schools, celebrity choreographer Tré Armstrong delivered the closing keynote speech. Bookmark and Share

CINARS press launch

>> by Andrew Guilbert

On October 23rd, CINARS announced the lineup for the 15th Biennale of the International Exchange of the Performing Arts during a press conference at the Monument-National theatre in Montréal. The event, running from November 12th to 18th, will feature twenty-three mainstage shows with 150 performances, as well as seventy-seven “off-CINARS” performances in fields such as dance, music and theatre. Notable in the dance-focussed programming are choreographer Virginie Brunelle, whose company will kickoff the event on November 13th with a performance of Complexe des genres, and Hélène Blackburn’s Cas Public performing Gold. Dance from around the world will also be featured, such as Finland’s K & C Kekäläinen and Company and South Korea’s Choe Contemporary Dance Company. The Biennale also serves as a networking hub for artists of all stripes. The event’s main exhibition hall will feature more than 120 booths providing participants with an opportunity to meet like-minded patrons and colleagues and share their love of the performing arts. CINARS, in participation with the La Vitrine ticket counter, is offering 4000 free passes for the general public to attend any of the twenty-three official shows at the event. Tickets can be reserved online and picked up at La Vitrine’s Montréal Counter at 2 St. Catherine Street East. For more information, go to: cinars.org.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Government cuts close the doors on the CCA

>> by Brittany Duggan
After sixty-seven years of service, the Canadian Conference of the Arts (CCA) announced the end of its operations on October 30th, 2012. The decision comes a year and a half after news broke that the government was not intending to continue its funding to the nation’s largest member-based arts advocacy agency. National Director Alain Pineau commented in a press release, “This was not the way I was hoping to end my time with the CCA, but I leave knowing that all of us at the Secretariat have given everything we had to make this transition a success. I can only hope that someone else will pick up the challenge. The Canadian cultural sector needs and deserves a CCA if it is to be effective and thrive.” The advocacy group recently put together a five-year business plan and requested two years of transitional funding from the government. Denied this funding in the spring of 2012, the CCA continued with support from Canadian Heritage and from its membership. However, it was not enough to re-invent the CCA under a new business model and the group is now left in a state of suspension, maintaining charitable status so as not to lose the accumulation of advocacy throughout the years and to leave the door open for new leadership. CCA was founded in 1945, even before the Canada Council for the Arts, and has been a voice for all disciplines in arts, culture and heritage. Their disappearance prompts the question: what next? Who will lead policy development at the federal level and advocate for Canadian artists and art in Canada?
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Fortier's 30 days of dancing in Paris

 Paul-André Fortier performing his own work Solo 30x30 in Paris, France / Photo by Marion-Bonan

>> by Jaimée Horn
Montréal-based dance artist Paul-André Fortier recently wrapped up thirty days of performing his Solo 30x30 in Paris. Welcomed by the Théâtre National de Chaillot from September 21st through October 20th, Fortier performed on the Esplanade Trocadéro, with the Eiffel Tower as his backdrop. In a video by the Délégation générale du Québec à Paris, Fortier comments that he offered his daily performance as a gift to pedestrians who wished to observe, but, in doing so, he was also giving himself the gift of dancing for thirty consecutive days. The piece received warm accolades and has now been performed 450 times in multiple cities around the world.
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Randolph Academy celebrates twentieth anniversary

>> by Cynthia Brett
On October 15th Randolph Academy celebrated its twentieth anniversary with a fundraising gala in Toronto's Fairmont Royal York Concert Hall. Over 200 people, including honorary co-chair David Mirvish, attended the dinner, auction and concert featuring over 150 students, alumni and special guests. The evening also celebrated the Bathurst Street Theatre's renovations and official name change to the Randolph Theatre. Another highlight of the evening was the presentation of the inaugural Gregory Hines Performing Arts Mentorship Award to Tara Young, artistic director of Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour. The late Gregory Hines, a friend of Randolph Academy founder George Randolph since the 1970s, periodically made surprise visits to the school to teach. He is buried in Oakville, Ontario, and, once a year, Randolph and other tappers pay tribute at his grave with stories and improvisation.
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Monday, October 22, 2012

I Love Dance Awards

>> by Kathleen Smith
On Sunday, October 21st, as part of the Canadian Dance Assembly’s Step in Time Conference in Ottawa, twelve awards were given out to deserving members of the Canadian dance community during a gala dinner in the Panorama Room at the National Arts Centre. With Tré Armstrong hosting, performances from Supernaturalz, Mandoline Hybride and Vanessa Shaver and presenters such as Alberta Ballet’s Jean Grand-Maître, BJM’s Jay Rankin and Les Grands Ballets’ Alain Dancyger handing out the glass statuettes, the evening was a true celebration of committed contribution.

Here are the awardees:
Organization Award – Dance Collection Danse (Toronto)
Donors Award – Jeanne Lougheed (Calgary)
CPAMO Pluralism Award – Menaka Thakkar (Toronto)
Audience Member Award – Henry Kim Wong (Vancouver)
Corporation Award – TD Bank Group
Innovation Award – Julia Taffe/Aeriosa Dance Society (Vancouver)
Seniors Award – Charmaine Headley/COBA (Toronto)
Aga Khan Museum International Award – RUBBERBANDance Group (Montréal)
Healthy Citizens Award – Erica Ross/Dance Our Way Home (Toronto)
Award for Creative Economy – École Christiane Bélanger Danse (Québec)
EnPointe Youth Award – Julia Gutsik/Luv2Groove (Ottawa)
Rosco Floors Community Award – Karen and Allen Kaeja (Toronto)

More information about the awards and conference (including posting of a number of the documents presented in Ottawa) is available at cda-acd.ca.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Inaugural Dance Awards in Toronto

>> by Brittany Duggan
On October 14th, Toronto's Young Centre for the Performing Arts celebrated the inaugural Young Centre Dance Awards. Curated by Young Centre resident artists Roberto Campanella and Andrea Nann, the awards were created to celebrate excellence, creativity, innovation, collaboration, community and spirit in Toronto as well as to increase the Young Centre’s commitment to present dance and support dance-centered activities as promised by General Director Albert Schultz on the night of the event. Nominees were invited to present work, live or by video, in Whirl, The Dance Cabaret, which took place directly before the awards ceremony. Gadfly took the award for Emerging Dance Artist, Esmeralda Enrique for Senior Dance Artist, Jon Reid for Community Dance Artist and Marie-Josée Chartier for Multidisciplinary Dance Artist. Nominees included: Jasmyn Fyffe, Cara Spooner, Anjelica Scannura, Nova Bhattacharya, Robert Glumbek, Claudia Moore, Sylvie Bouchard, Bill Coleman and  Laurence Lemieux, Lenny Dela Pena, Jacob Niedzwiecki, Heidi Strauss and William Yong. Stay tuned for more dance at Toronto's Young Centre.
More: youngcentre.ca
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Arts patron Walter Carsen dies at 100

 Walter Carsen / photo courtesy of The National Ballet of Canada

>> by Naomi Brand
Described by The National Ballet of Canada as its "greatest patron", businessman and philanthropist Walter Carsen died on October 8th, 2012 at the age of 100. Carsen’s generosity is unmatched in the history of The National Ballet of Canada. He underwrote twelve productions for the company, funded tours, campaigns and led the donations for construction of the ballet’s permanent home in Toronto, named in his honour. "He helped us achieve what we wanted to do. He was an inspiration through his generosity, leadership and great enthusiasm and he was also a great friend to the company," said Artistic Director Karen Kain in a statement. In addition to his support of the ballet, he established the annual $50,000 Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts and donated to the Shaw Festival, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the United Way, among other charities.

Carsen was born in Germany and came to Canada in 1941 where he built his fortune distributing photo and optical supplies. Among his many honours, Carsen was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada in 1995 and, in 2002, was promoted to officer of the Order of Canada. “When I see a need I believe in, I want to help," said Carsen in an interview with the Toronto Star earlier this year. "Money is here to be spent. Give it where you love it and where it gives pleasure to others.”
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Franca biography shortlisted for Governor General's Literary Award

>> by Naomi Brand
Author Carol Bishop-Gwyn's The Pursuit of Perfection: A Life of Celia Franca has been shortlisted for a 2012 Governor General's Literary Award for non-fiction. Bishop-Gwyn's book tells the life story of Celia Franca, founding artistic director of The National Ballet of Canada and the company's artistic director for twenty-four years. Bishop-Gwyn is also a freelance journalist who holds two graduate degrees in dance history and has taught at York University, Ryerson University and the School of Toronto Dance Theatre. The Pursuit of Perfection is the first book on Canadian dance history to be shortlisted for the award. Winners will be announced on November 13th.
More: http://ggbooks.canadacouncil.ca/en/The-Pursuit-of-Perfection-A-Life-of-Celia-Franca.aspx
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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dancefilm rising

>> by Philip Szporer
A crowded fall festival season didn’t deter Cinédanse Montréal from muscling its way into the field with a four-day run in September, including screenings of more than thirty-five shorts, documentaries and special events. “It’s about time,” was a general reaction from festival-goers. The ambitious event drew a slew of international entries and guests, including ballet star Claude Bessy, famed Pina Bausch dancer Jo Ann Endicott, and director Mike Figgis, whose raw and brutal The Co(te)lette Film was the festival opener. 
Housed in the city’s 800-plus-seat golden-era movie palace Cinéma Impérial, Cinédanse Montréal is based on the model of its programming co-curator Cinedans, Amsterdam’s magnet for dance-media innovation. Saturday matinees drew a modest fifteen to twenty ticket-holders at each screening, while about a dozen people attended that day’s morning roundtable discussion, “Why Onscreen Dance? What to Do or Not to Do”.
Director Sylvain Bleau, former manager of such companies as Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and LaLaLa Human Steps, proudly launched the biennial festival without a cent of public money. A late start in publicizing the new event caused problems at the box office, he acknowledged. Nonetheless, Bleau supports the idea that dance artists “need not limit themselves to the stage.”
Learn more >> cinedanse-mtl.com
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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ballet BC appoints new executive director

>> by Samantha Mehra
Ballet BC recently announced the appointment of new Executive Director Branislav Henselmann. In a statement, Artistic Director Emily Molnar communicated her support: "Branislav is a talented and accomplished leader whose background, experience, and connections with the international dance community will add significant strength to Ballet BC's leadership team." Henselmann, originally a dancer who trained both in Munich and at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, comes to the new position with a wide variety of international experience in arts management. In addition to earning an MFA in Dance and Business Administration as a Dean's Fellow at New York University, he served as head of programming and learning for DanceEast; artistic curator for New York City Ballet's Choreographic Institute; and most recently, as executive producer for London's Michael Clark Company. Henselmann takes over the role from Jay Rankin, who is now executive director of BJM Danse.
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Menaka Thakkar wins Walter Carsen Prize

>> by Jacqueline Hansen

Menaka Thakkar / Photo by David Hou

Indian classical dancer, choreographer and teacher Menaka Thakkar is the 2012 winner of the prestigious Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts administered by the Canada Council for the Arts. The award coincides with another major milestone for Thakkar – forty years of practicing and teaching classical Indian dance in Canada. She first gave workshops and performances in Canada in 1972 and then immigrated permanently soon after, opening her school of Indian dance, Nrtyakala, and forming the Menaka Thakkar Dance Company. A pioneer of Indian dance in Canada, Thakkar is also the first dance artist from a non-western practice to receive the Walter Carsen Prize. The Canada Council for the Arts defines the award as recognizing "the highest level of artistic excellence and distinguished career achievement by Canadian artists who have spent the major part of their career in Canada in dance, theatre or music." Thakkar and her company will perform at the award presentation on October 20th, 2012.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Leland Windreich (1926-2012)

Leland Windreich / Photo courtesy of Dance Collection Danse

>> by Kaija Pepper
Leland Windreich – a rare breed of writer who established himself as an important dance historian and critic – uncovered one of Canada’s great art stories: the Vancouver-Ballet Russe connection. Starting in 1938, seven dancers who had trained in the small west coast city joined one of two famed Russian companies: Colonel de Basil’s Ballet Russe or Serge Denham’s Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.

Lee, as he was known to friends, died in Vancouver in July at age 85, still engaged in the art form he loved, though mostly via the internet due to limited mobility. His lifetime involvement with dance began as a boy in San Francisco devouring movie musicals starring Eleanor Powell or Ruby Keeler. By the time he immigrated to Canada in 1961 (for a University of Victoria librarian’s post), ballet was his passion.

Several of Windreich’s countless reviews and articles are collected in his book, Dance Encounters. Windreich also edited Dancing for de Basil: Letters to her parents from Rosemary Deveson 1938-1940, covering the time Deveson toured with the Ballet Russe under the stage name Natasha Sobinova. In June Roper: Ballet Starmaker, Windreich wrote about the teacher who created the hothouse where those seven dancers bloomed. These books, published by Dance Collection Danse, are Lee Windreich’s legacy, his gift to the dance community.
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Canadians help celebrate Jacob's Pillow anniversary

>> by Jaimée Horn
This summer marks the eightieth anniversary of Jacob's Pillow international dance festival. Every year thousands of people visit Western Massachusetts to experience the festival, which welcomes companies and audiences from around the world. This year, in celebration of The Pillow's founder Ted Shawn and his company of male dancers, Tina Croll and Jamie Cunningham have created The Men Dancers: From the Horse’s Mouth. The piece consists of a unique show in which twenty male dancers execute original choreography as well as share brief personal anecdotes. Among the rotating performers were dancers from various backgrounds including Canadians Josh Beamish and Hari Krishnan. Krishnan performed a version of his solo work Pissing off the Neighbours as part of The Men Dancers: From the Horse's Mouth. Other Canadian companies contributing to this summer's festival are the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, returning after a nearly fifty-year absence, to perform Canadian choreographer Peter Quanz's In Tandem, the pas de deux from Mark Godden's As Above So Below and Mauricio Wainrot's Carmina Burana; Crystal Pite's Kidd Pivot returns to perform Dark Matters; and Out Innerspace performs ME SO YOU SO ME as part of the Inside/Out outdoor performances.
More: http://www.jacobspillow.org/
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

New exhibits celebrate dance and design

Tutu by Jenn Woodall and the Participants of Word on the Street Festival in Toronto, 2011
Photo by Seterah Sarmadi

>> by Cynthia Brett
The Design Exchange in Toronto recently launched two exhibits in partnership with The National Ballet of Canada, which is currently celebrating its sixtieth anniversary season. Curated by costume designer and scholar Caroline O'Brien, "60 Years of Designing the Ballet" offers a behind-the-scenes look at prized costumes, props and settings from the company's history. It is accompanied by "The Tutu Project", which features sixty one-of-a-kind tutus crafted by Canadian fashion designers. Both exhibits run until September 2nd.
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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dance Ontario connecting dance in the province

Maxine Heppner at Dance Ontario's Connecting the Dots conference / Photo by Kathy Lewis

>> by Brittany Duggan
Dance Ontario recently wrapped up its inaugural Connecting the Dots conference at the Young Centre in Toronto’s Distillery District. The conference brought together educators, studio and venue operators, dance activists, animators and artists alike, as well as the funders and arts service organizations that serve the dance community of Ontario. Spread over three days – June 26th through 28th – attendees were invited to weigh in on issues that pertain to them and to their regions and to create action lists. Over the next two years, Dance Ontario will support the following communities: London, Orangeville, Barrie, Orillia, Sudbury, North Bay, Halton, Milton, Burlington and Hamilton, with its proposed activities. “These communities will develop partnerships across the sub-sectors (education/artists & venues/studios) and bring enhanced or new activities to broader markets within their regions,” commented Dance Ontario Executive Director Rosslyn Jacob-Edwards. Additionally, Dance Ontario will partner with the Council of Ontario Drama and Dance Educators to advocate to principals, faculties of education and the Ministry of Education to support dance educator’s needs as well as other partnered projects still to be confirmed.

Sharing and brainstorming was the work of the conference but the act of dance itself was not forgotten; dancers of all ages and genres were invited to perform at either the Performances by Competition & Youth Dance Teams, Studio & Professional Training Institution Showcases or the Professional Dance Showcase. The three-year Connecting the Dots initiative was made possible by funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
More: www.danceontario.ca
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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mocean Dance announces new leadership

Susanne Chui
Photo: Nick Rudnicki

Sara Coffin
Photo: Peter Eastwood

>> by Naomi Brand
Halifax's Mocean Dance has announced that its 2012/13 season will begin under the new leadership of Susanne Chui as the company's artistic director and Sara Coffin as artistic associate. Mocean Co-founder and Artistic Director Carolle Crooks Fernando will be stepping down after more than a decade with the company in order to pursue the next phase of her career. "I have total confidence in the strength of this new leadership," says Crooks Fernando. "Susanne and Sara are dedicated to their craft and to the development of Halifax as a centre for dance creation and production. They value the company's vision and its potential for moving forward.” Coffin has been acting as interim artistic director this past season while Crooks Fernando was on maternity leave and will continue her work with the company next season while also pursuing an MFA in choreography at Smith College in Massachusetts. Chui and Coffin are both contemporary dance artists and co-founders of the cross-Canada collective SiNS (Sometimes in Nova Scotia). "I am excited to bring to Mocean the knowledge I have gained from being an independent dance artist for the past ten years,” says Chui. “I look forward to the new experiences that will come with this position.” Mocean's upcoming season is full of performance and creation activities including touring work across the country, performing a new commission by New Brunswick’s Lesandra Dodson and beginning a new creation with Sara Coffin.
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Sylvain Emard's Le Grand Continental tours three US cities

Le Grand Continental at the River To River Festival, New York
Photo: Julieta Cervantes
>> by Naomi Brand
This summer Sylvain Émard's Le Grand Continental will be touring across the US with performances in New York, Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon. The piece, which draws from line dancing and contemporary dance will be performed by up to 200 local, amateur dancers of all ages in each city, guided by a few professionals. Le Grand Continental was originally created and co-produced by the Festival TransAmerique in 2009. Two years later a Mexican version of the work was presented in Mexico City. Founded in 1990, Sylvain Émard Danse is a Montréal-based company.
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Monday, July 9, 2012

Sampradaya Dance Centre celebrates official opening

Lata Pada (centre) cutting the ribbon at opening ceremony

Lata Pada receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal from Governor General David Johnston

>> by Samantha Mehra
On June 20th, Sampradaya Dance Creations (SDC) celebrated the official opening of its new studio and theatre space, the Sampradaya Dance Centre, in Mississauga, Ontario. At an opening ceremony in front of an audience of supporters, guest speakers Peter Caldwell (director and CEO, Ontario Arts Council), Dr. Dev Sainani (board of directors, Ontario Trillium Foundation), the Hon. Harinder Takhar (Minister of Government Services, Ontario) and Preeti Saran (Consul General of India, Toronto) offered their congratulations on this milestone moment in the company's history. The celebration also included a lamp-lighting ceremony and a performance by Sampradaya Dance Creations' dancers. In a press release, Founder and Artistic Director Lata Pada, CM, spoke of the new centre as a functional space for the South Asian dance community, stating, "We want this to be a place for the community to gather and witness the wealth of local and international talent." The new space boasts a multi-purpose studio and theatre, with retractable seating for an audience of 100. In the fall of this year, SDC will invigorate the space with the launch of its own series program, titled the Horizon Series, which aims to feature the local talents of emerging South Asian dance artists.

On June 18th, Pada, along with several other members of the dance community, was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal at a gala at Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall. The medal recognizes the significant contributions of Canadian citizens to the Canadian community; 60,000 Canadians are awarded the medal throughout the year in celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's coronation.
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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dance awards across the country

Daelik in his own work Tempus Fugitive / Photo by Chris Randle

>> by Cynthia Brett
Toronto's Nova Bhattacharya is this year's winner in the dance division of the Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton award, which celebrates mid-career artists. For her artistic achievement, Bhattacharya received $15,000. Meanwhile Patrick Lavoie, first soloist for The National Ballet of Canada, has won the David Tory Award recognizing his many positive qualities. He received $2,500 in memory of David Tory, former vice-chair of the company's board of directors. Tap dancer Danny Nielsen, from Edmonton, was awarded the third annual Santa Aloi Award, given to help choreographers create new works. The $4,500 he received will contribute to a new full-length work he is co-producing with the Vancouver International Tap Festival this fall. This year Dance Victoria announced two winners for its second annual Chrystal Dance Prize of $14,000; Tessa Charlesworth, an emerging artist from Victoria, receives $4,000, and Vancouver's Daelik receives $10,000. In Toronto, Harbourfront Centre's Next Steps and the Chimera Project announced that Toronto-based dance artist Angelica Scannura won both the Paula Citron FRESH BLOOD Award and an Audience Choice Award for her work After the Fall. Finally, Neighbourhood Dance Works recently announced a new annual award for a Newfoundland/Labrador dance artist (or artist collaborating with a dance artist). The Roberta Thomas Legacy Award will fund up to $1,000 for a project to be presented at the Festival of New Dance each year. Applications are due July 31st.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rachel Browne, 1934-2012

Rachel Browne in Flowering

>> by Amy Bowring

Canadian dance icon Rachel Browne died in Ottawa on Saturday, June 9th. Founder of Winnipeg's Contemporary Dancers and its accompanying professional school, Browne was in Ottawa for the Canada Dance Festival (CDF) where students from five of Canada's professional dance schools, including the School of Contemporary Dancers, were performing Jean-Pierre Perreault's Joe et Rodolphe at the National Arts Centre. Browne returned to her hotel late Friday night and died in her sleep at the age of 77; the cause of death has not been made public. A funeral will be held in Winnipeg on Friday, June 15th at 2:30pm in the Piano Nobile reception area of the Centennial Concert Hall. Plans are being arranged for a memorial in Toronto in September; details will be made available when public.

Born in Philadelphia, Browne studied piano and dance as a child. After high school, she moved to New York and took ballet classes with Benjamin Harkarvy. In New York, she and some friends also formed a ballet group called The New Century Dancers – anyone who joined had to be enlightened in socialism or communism. In 1957, Browne left New York when Harkarvy invited her to accompany him on a move to Winnipeg to direct the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Browne left the company in 1961 and began to raise a family; however, she still attended company class or would do barre exercises in her kitchen. During these years, she began to teach for fellow RWB dancers Jill and Nenad Lhotka. When she choreographed for her senior students, she discovered that her natural way of moving was not balletic in nature. She began to choreograph more and founded Contemporary Dancers in 1964. She developed a repertory company that performed her work as well as that of others, such as Robert Moulton. The socialist ideals of her upbringing along with feminism and environmental issues informed her work. She resigned as artistic director in 1983 but remained closely tied to the company for the remainder of her life while also setting works on other companies and individuals. Through her teaching and choreography, she has influenced and mentored multiple generations of dance artists across Canada including Stephanie Ballard, Tedd Robinson, Sharon Moore and Andrea Nann, among numerous others. Several artists performing at CDF dedicated their shows to Browne’s memory. Writer-choreographer Carol Anderson published a biography of Browne, Rachel Browne: Dancing Toward the Light, in 1999.
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Bolshoi Ballet’s Canadian comeback

Swan Lake featuring Maria Alexandrova (Odette-Odile) and Ruslan Skvortsov (Prince Seigfried) / Photo by Damir Yusupov

>> by Jacqueline Hansen
The Bolshoi Ballet made its Canadian comeback last month after a thirty-three-year hiatus. The world-renowned Russian ballet company started what it is calling its “Great Tour” in Toronto with performances of Swan Lake. This classical, Tchaikovsky-scored ballet is the company’s signature work; Bolshoi Ballet danced the world premiere of Swan Lake in 1877. Now in its 236th season, the company is introducing North America to its new generation of Bolshoi ballerinas. The dancers completed their Canadian visit with performances of Don Quixote in Ottawa and then continued to Washington and Los Angeles.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Canada celebrates its first National Dance Week

Alison Denham and Billy Marchenski in AdamEve/Man-Woman / Photo by Steven Lemay

by Samantha Mehra
On April 22nd, Canada began a celebration of its first National Dance Week, an initiative made possible by the Canadian Dance Assembly (CDA). The inaugural initiative aimed to engage communities by giving increased presence to Canada’s diverse dance scene through a series of events throughout the week. Highlights included a family-friendly Bollywood-inspired presentation by Canada’s National Ballet School at the Distillery District in Toronto; Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal performed Au nom de la rose / In the Name of the Rose, a sixty-person flash mob at Montréal's Square Victoria-métro station. Dance NL used social media to post a video series of local celebrities promoting dance.

On April 29th, National Dance Week ended with the UNESCO-sponsored International Dance Day, an event celebrated annually since 1982. Events took place across the country such as the Winnipeg performances of Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, The Aboriginal School of Dance and the Young Lungs Dance Collective. For the fourth year in a row, the event received a proclamation from the Government of Manitoba. In Vancouver, the Scotiabank Dance Centre hosted a day of studio showings by local artists including Raven Spirit Dance, Modus Operandi, the Contingency Plan Collective, Kinesis Dance and Mandala Arts and Culture, as well as workshops and classes in flamenco, Pow-Wow and bharatanatyam. The celebration ended with a double-bill featuring ADAMEVE/Man-Woman (Part 1) by Vancouver’s Alvin Tolentino of Co.ERASGA and COCOONDANCE’s Another You, a work by Rafaele Giovanola of Bonn, Germany.
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Monday, May 28, 2012

Youth dance conference brings Ontario dancers together

Mariano Abarca / Photo: Lauren Van Gijn & Bobbie Dhindsa
>> by Jaimée Horn
With the goal of educating students and teachers alike about the value, scope and diversity of dance in Ontario, the Pulse Ontario Youth Dance Conference provides equal opportunities for all levels of dance students to benefit from the experiential learning and discovery that dance can provide in non-competitive environments. This year’s conference, held at York University from May 10th through 13th, had close to 200 participants who were enthusiastic to take in the workshops, evening performances and social events. Keynote speaker Mariano Abarca, recognized internationally as having put Canada on the map for hip hop dance, received a warm and enthusiastic welcome from the dancers in the auditorium on Friday evening. His meaningful message directed to the youth and educators was to stay curious and creative. “Experience everything. Learn as much as you can and then build on that foundation. Be original. Ask questions. You are the scientists of this art form.” The conference, whose vision is to bring together dance students, teachers and dance professionals from across Ontario, manifested for the first time in May 2006. The conference is dedicated to providing students affordable opportunities to experience the art form, and develop their literacy and understanding of dance.
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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Celebrating Canada as a dance nation

>> by Jaimée Horn
On April 19th the Canadian Dance Assembly launched the I love dance / J’aime la danse campaign. The event was held at Canada’s National Ballet School with approximately sixty people present. Among the attendees were Guillaume Côté, a principal dancer at The National Ballet of Canada, and City of Toronto Councillor Josh Matlow, who had the joint honour of unveiling the much anticipated dance manifesto. Celebrating the values of dance, the manifesto expresses the core messages of the campaign and encourages support for dance as an art form integral to our Canadian identity. The campaign was a kick-off to National Dance Week, which promoted dance activities across the country culminating in International Dance Day on April 29th. For information about the I love dance/J’aime la danse campaign, visit www.ilovedancecanada.ca.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Gohs receive lifetime achievement award

>> by Cynthia Brett
On February 25th, Choo Chiat Goh and Lin Yee Goh, co-founders of The Goh Ballet Academy, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from S.U.C.C.E.S.S., a social service organization for new immigrants in British Columbia. S.U.C.C.E.S.S. gives the award annually to celebrate the achievements of immigrants. As part of the honour, the Gohs performed for over 700 people at the Bridge to S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Gala, which raised $475,000 for the organization.
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Ballet Kelowna appoints new executive director

Meaghan Williams
>> by Naomi Brand
Ballet Kelowna has appointed Meaghan Williams as its new executive director. Williams brings a strong background in arts management, having worked for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the Turning Point Ensemble. Williams is also a professional musician herself and currently plays bass for both the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra and the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra. Williams said, “Iʼm honoured to join Ballet Kelowna and share the enthusiasm and love of dance of this professional company in the Okanagan Valley. I believe that Ballet Kelowna is poised for exciting growth and Iʼm thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of that journey.”
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