Curator Mimi Beck notes:
“Highlights of the DanceWorks Mainstage series at Harbourfront Centre include six world premieres, a special 40th anniversary mixed bill presentation and the Mainstage debut of Dancers of Damelahamid, a Vancouver-based Indigenous dance company directed by Margaret Grenier of the Gitxsan Nation. Also in their first Mainstage outing are Toronto’s effervescent Hanna Kiel/Human Body Expression and Gadfly, the shapeshifting brainchild of Apolonia Velasquez and Ofilio Sinbadinho. The season’s array of dance offerings includes Urban, Kathak, Flamenco, Indigenous and Contemporary Western forms.
Themes of enlightenment and transcendence are woven throughout the season. In both abstract and narrative work, artists tap into dreams and memories that influence their current reality. High on the creative radar are considerations of light, duality and making ethical choices.
DanceWorks began at the Music Gallery in 1977. True to its early roots, the 40th anniversary edition features music, dance and performance by five seasoned choreographers, all of whom were presented in previous seasons. Holly Small, Learie McNicolls, Joanna de Souza/Esmeralda Enrique and Denise Fujiwara bring current creations, and some past favourites!”
Oct. 19-21, 2017: DW 222 – Dreamwalker Dance – Dual Light @ Harbourfront Centre Theatre
Dual Light is conceived, written, and directed by Dreamwalker artistic director Andrea Nann, in creation with dance artists and fellow performers Brendan Wyatt, Yuichiro Inoue, Kristy Kennedy and designers Simon Rossiter (lighting and scenography), Cheryl Lalonde (costume and scenography), Joshua Van Tassel (sound), AJ Morra (production and stage management), James Kendal (scenographic performer), and dramaturge Sarah Chase.
Dual Light invites us into the space between things familiar and situations unknown. It’s here, in the betwixt and between that the performers explore new ways of supporting each other, moving together step by step through their own vulnerability. In those moments, right before change happens anything is possible. Dual Light is a poignant reflection on grace and our willingness to keep trying to meet and connect, even at the farthest reaches of our experiences. It is a moving ‘concept album’ so to speak, within shifting environments of light, sound, story and memory.
Nov. 16-18, 2017: DW 223 – 40th Anniversary Celebration featuring 5 stellar choreographers/ performers @ Harbourfront Centre Theatre
A stellar performance of unique works, both remounts and premieres, the 40th Anniversary Celebration reflects DanceWorks’ inspired presentations over the last 40 years. Featured artists include Esmeralda Enrique and Joanna de Souza (Amalgam), Holly Small and Robert W. Stevenson (Cheap Sunglasses), Learie McNicolls (The Night Journey and Dancing With The Ghost), and Denise Fujiwara (Songs That Move Us).
Feb. 9-10, 2018: DW 224 – Dancers of Damelahamid – Flicker @ Harbourfront Centre Theatre
Flicker is a 75 minute multi-media dance piece performed by Dancers of Damelahamid, a Vancouver-based professional Indigenous dance company of the Gitxsan Nation, directed by choreographer and performer Margaret Grenier. The Gitxsan, “people of the river of mists,” are part of the coastal group of cultures with a rich history of masked dance. Through dramatic dance, captivating narrative, intricately carved masks and elaborate regalia, the Dancers of Damelahamid bridge the ancient with a living tradition. Demonstrating how we can access our true potential without limitations, Flicker guides audiences through a journey to acquire our ancestral gifts, strengthening our capacity to create change.
Chasing the Path is a 60-minute quartet that investigates the beauty and pain of memory. Choreographer Hanna Kiel taps into her personal experience of loss, asking how we move into the present moment while still feeling pain from the past. Dancers Luke Garwood, Kelly Shaw, Ryan Lee and David Norsworthy bring their own life journeys into the process. They embody how memories shape us, and unfold in our daily lives, often in unexpected ways. When recalled intellectually, memories can play like a film – frozen, speeded up, replayed or recreated. Memory is also embedded in the body. An external event may activate a hidden memory, triggering a surprise physical or emotional response. Chasing the Path seeks to connect experience, memory and life choices that make us who we are today.
May 3-5: DW 226 – UNBXBL 2 Gadfly @ Harbourfront Centre Theatre
Gadfly, Toronto’s urban dance phenomenon, performs UNBXBL 2, choreographed by Apolonia Velasquez and Ofilio Sinbadinho. The program is a mixed bill featuring two of the company’s most requested works and two world premieres, highlighting Gadfly’s signature movement style rooted in urban dance and captivating artistry.
Joanna de Souza comes from a music background. Canadian-born, Joanna de Souza began her life-long study of kathak under the Late Pandit Chitresh Das in 1978, and was part of the Chitresh Das Dance Company from 1981-1985. Under his guidance, in the traditional one-on-one, guru-shisha-param-para context, she received knowledge in all aspects of Kathak dance performance, theoretical understanding and teachers training. Joanna opened M-DO in 1987, fueled by the intent to establish the art form in Canada, from her unique perspective as an informed, contemporary, non-South Asian, classical Indian dancer. She established Chhandam Dance Company in 2003, and with company members, creates new work for kathak, that deeply respects tradition and has a present-day sensibility.
Esmeralda Enrique is one of the most celebrated Flamenco dance artists in Canada. Lauded internationally, she is the founder of the Academy of Spanish Dance and the Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company. She has received numerous awards including being named one of the 10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians in 2008. She received the Toronto Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Vision Award for Arts and Culture and the inaugural Young Centre for the Performing Arts Dance Award as Senior Artist in 2012. In 2014, the City of Barrie, Ontario dedicated their fifth annual Rhythmfest to Esmeralda in recognition of her contribution to dance in Canada and North America, and she was awarded the Pioneers Award in Art and Dance from the Hispanic Canadian Heritage Council. Ms. Enrique has also been honoured with Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations for Outstanding Performance and for Outstanding New Choreography in 2009 and 2015. Ms. Enrique is also the founder of The Art of Flamenco Symposium, a bi-annual event in Toronto. Esmeralda reveals in her work a total mastery and love of the art. Her infinite creativity, energy, and passion conveys a true love for the art of flamenco for generations to come.
Denise Fujiwara is a dancer and choreographer who began her movement career as a member of the Canadian rhythmic gymnastics team. After competing at the international level, she turned to dance and, in 1978, Fujiwara with other choreographers, founded the collective Toronto Independent Dance Enterprise (TIDE). She created Fujiwara Dance Inventions in 1991 to continue her solo projects and, in 1993, began studying butoh with master choreographer and performer Natsu Nakajima. Nakajima created her interpretation of Motomasa’s 15th century Noh play, Sumida River, for Fujiwara. Sumida River established Fujiwara as a senior solo dance artist and butoh practitioner. Fujiwara premiered her second major butoh work, Komachi by Yukio Waguri, in 2005. Her solo projects and commissions include Spontaneous Combustion, Vanishing Acts, Elle Laments, Brief Incarnations and Lost and Found. In addition, Denise Fujiwara has choreographed the acclaimed group worksConference of the Birds and No Exit. In 1997, Denise Fujiwara co-founded the CanAsian International Dance Festival.
Margaret Grenier, choreographer and lead dancer, is the Executive and Artistic Director for Vancouver’s Dancers of Damelahamid. She choreographed the full-length works Setting the Path and Sharing the Spirit which toured internationally to New Zealand and the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China. Her other works include Visitors Who Never Left as a site-specific work, Dancing our Stories, Spirit Transforming, In Abundance and Flicker. Margaret has directed and produced the Coastal First Nations Dance Festival since 2008. Margaret holds a Masters of Arts in Arts Education from Simon Fraser University. She was a sessional instructor at Simon Fraser University for Foundations in Aboriginal Education, Language and Culture in 2007. Margaret was a faculty member for the Banff Centre Indigenous Dance Residency in 2013. She presented at the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education in Australia 2008, Peru 2011 and Hawaii 2015. Margaret serves on the Board for The Dance Centre as well as the Canadian Dance Assembly.
Dora nominee Hanna Kiel is from Seoul, South Korea and moved to Vancouver in 1996. She has since presented her work at 12 Minutes Max, PlanB Singles and Solos Festival, Dancing on the Edge Festival, Asian Heritage Month Festival, Pulse at the Scotiabank Dance Centre, Roundhouse Centre and Surrey Arts Centre in Vancouver. In 2007, she collaborated with Yoko Ono as a dancer and choreographer at the Centre A. Since moving to Toronto in 2008, Hanna has continued working as an independent dance artist, choreographing for George Brown Dance, Ryerson Dances, School of Toronto Dance Theatre, Kenny Pearl’s Emerging Artist Intensive, IGNITE, ProArteDanza, Cadence Contemporary Ballet Company, Ballet Jörgen, Alias Dance Project, The National Ballet of Canada, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks in Calgary and princess productions’ dance: made in canada/fait au Canada where she won the 2017 Audience Choice Award. In 2012, she won Northwest Dance Project’s ‘Pretty Creatives’ international choreographic competition. She was an E-choreographer in 2015 for Springboard Danse Montreal. She is the artistic director of Human Body Expression and one of the founders of “The Garage” dance development and exchange collective group.
Andrea Nann is a contemporary dance artist and founding Artistic Director of Dreamwalker Dance Company. Andrea’s work investigates contemporary approaches to creation through collaboration and exchange between individuals across artistic disciplines. In 2016, Andrea was named Artist of the Year by Ontario Contact, representing a province-wide network of performing arts touring and presenting organizations. A graduate of York University’s Department of Fine Arts in 1988, Andrea was a full-time member of the Danny Grossman Dance Company for fifteen years from 1988-2003. She was also Visiting Artist in Residence at Brock Centre for the Arts/First Ontario Performing Arts Centre (2013-2016), Burlington Centre for the Arts (2014-2016), River Run Centre (2013-2015),and Grand Theatre/Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning (2013-2015); Resident Artist of Soulpepper Theatre Company (2009-2014) and Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre (2008-2009); and was the Iris Garland Visiting Choreographer at Simon Fraser University (2012). She has received four Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations for Outstanding Performance and a nomination for Outstanding Choreography, which she shares with her longtime creative partner Brendan Wyatt.
Holly Small is an award-winning dance artist and educator with a longstanding passion for interdisciplinary collaboration. Her choreography, described as “a flawless integration of music and dance” (Globe & Mail, Toronto), has been presented throughout Canada, the US, UK, Europe and Asia. Honours include the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, a Canada Council Millennium Award, a Chalmers Award, the Paula Citron Award and the UCLA Woman of the Year Award. Current projects include Museum of Missing Things, a collaboration with composer/media artist John Oswald and renowned Irish poet Doireann Ni Ghriofa. Small is delighted to re-connect with composer Robert W. Stevenson to remount their 1981 piece Cheap Sunglasses for Danceworks 40th Anniversary.
Apolonia Velasquez and Ofilio Sinbadinho, creative directors and choreographers of Dora Award-winning dance company Gadfly, are Co-founders of TUDS Festival of Urban Dance Culture. Apolonia Velasquez is the recipient of the 2017 K.M.Hunter Award in Dance, and together they have received the Manifesto Award for Innovation & Originality, and the Dance Ontario Award for Innovation. Originally from Montreal, the creative duo represents a remarkable repertoire that has constantly been evolving through the years. They are captivating dancers, maverick choreographers, and most of all, passionate professionals. Collectively, they are committed to increasing the visibility of street dance and to educate the masses about the importance of being a Gadfly: Be unique, dare to question the established standards and INNOVATE. Gadfly focuses on studying, researching and creating movement at the junction where urban dance styles (House dancing, Hip Hop, B-Boying) and other acclaimed genres (Ballet, Contemporary) collide and tune.