Now fifty years old, Laurence Lemieux continues to garner acclaim as a performer and choreographer. In recent years, she has also developed her entrepreneurial and business-mindedness through opening The Citadel, a performance and rehearsal space in the heart of the Regent Park community in Toronto that houses Coleman Lemieux (a company she co-founded with ex-husband Bill Coleman). Hailing from an accomplished family in Québec City, Lemieux took ballet lessons there and was convinced by Ludmilla Chiriaeff to move to Montréal to study more comprehensively. Since then Lemieux has developed an impressive list of credits and credentials including performing in the works of Jean-Pierre Perreault, James Kudelka and with Toronto Dance Theatre.
À cinquante ans, Laurence Lemieux continue à être acclamée comme interprète et chorégraphe. Dans les dernières années, elle a aussi développé son esprit entrepreneurial en ouvrant The Citadel. Ce lieu de diffusion et de répétition au cœur du quartier Regent Park à Toronto abrite Coleman Lemieux et compagnie, compagnie qu’elle a cofondée avec son ex-mari Bill Coleman. Née d’une estimable famille à Québec, Lemieux suivait des cours de ballet. Ludmilla Chiriaeff, fondatrice des Grands ballets canadiens et de l’École supérieure de danse du Québec, l’a convaincue de déménager à Montréal pour approfondir ses études en danse. Depuis, Lemieux construit un parcours impressionnant, y compris à titre de danseuse auprès de Jean-Pierre Perrault et de James Kudelka, et au sein du Toronto Dance Theatre.
Laurence Lemieux in her own work Les Cheminements de l’influence / Photo by John Lauener
In October 2014, The Dance Current met up with Lisa La Touche and Travis Knights who were teaching and performing at the tenth anniversary of the Eastern Canada Tap Conference in Mississauga, Ont. La Touche, from Alberta, and Knights, from Montréal, have already had successful performance careers working with the likes of Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, Dianne Walker, Bakari Wilder and Ayodele Casel. They discuss tap as a commercial form, an international form, and a life-long quest, and they explore what needs to be done to develop the community in Canada. As they describe the initial spark of passion that led them to tap dance, they also admit the various ways that the form, like a good wine, gets better with age and maturity. Regularly paying homage to their tap dance heroes, La Touche and Knights underline the importance of tap history and the idea of tap as music, specifically its relationship to jazz.
En octobre 2014 à Mississauga en Ontario, The Dance Current rencontre Lisa La Touche et Travis Knights qui enseignaient et dansaient au dixième anniversaire de la Eastern Canada Tap Conference. La Touche, albertaine d’origine et Knights, montréalais, ont déjà de grandes carrières auprès d’artistes tels que Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, Dianne Walker, Bakari Wilder et Ayodele Casel. Ils discutent de la claquette comme forme de danse commerciale, art international et quête d’une vie ; ils explorent les besoins pour développer la communauté au Canada. En plus de décrire chacun l’étincelle de la passion qui a déclenché leur parcours, ils admettent que cette danse, comme un bon vin, s’améliore avec l’âge et la maturité. Rendant hommage régulièrement à leurs héros de claquette, La Touche et Knights soulignent l’importance de l’histoire de la claquette, et l’idée de la claquette comme musique, particulièrement en lien à la musique jazz.
Lisa La Touche teaching at the Eastern Canadian Tap Conference Workshop / Photo by Andy Yu Photography
The rules governing the employment of temporary foreign workers in Canada was revised in June of 2014. The government’s intentions were to ensure that Canadians are given priority over foreign nationals for employment opportunities; that Canadian employers comply with employment standards; and that foreign workers are treated fairly and equitably under the law while they are working for a Canadian company. However, when applied as a blanket policy across all sectors, what appears as an attempt at equitable treatment becomes prohibitive and punishing. Dance, as a nomadic and global practice, relies on open borders and artistic merit, both of which are troubled by changes to the TFWP. Bridget Cauthery explores the lasting effects of these changes within the dance community.
Le programme des travailleurs étrangers temporaires au Canada a été réformé en juin 2014. Le gouvernement visait à s’assurer que les Canadiens aient un accès prioritaire à l’emploi, que les employeurs canadiens se conforment aux normes du travail et que les travailleurs étrangers aient des droits justes et équitables lorsqu’ils travaillent pour une compagnie canadienne. Toutefois, même si la politique semble axée sur le traitement équitable des travailleurs, elle devient prohibitive dans son application générale, sans égard aux particularités de différents secteurs. La danse est une pratique nomade et internationale, et dépend de l’ouverture des frontières et du mérite artistique ; le programme réformé menace la mobilité des artistes. Bridget Cauthery explore l’effet du programme jusqu’à maintenant au sein du milieu de la danse au Canada.
Ballet Jörgen at the Harbour Portugal Cove Newfoundland / Photo courtesy of Ballet Jörgen
Border Crossing: Sahara Morimoto
At Home in Canada: Naishi Wang
“Can we stop with the narrative that tap dance is coming back?” asks Travis Knights in “Tap Talk,” a conversation with Lisa La Touche led by Molly Johnson. For Knights and La Touche, tap never died and it never went anywhere. Instead, it has “its own agenda,” moving along and progressing whether practitioners are in the spotlight of commercial productions or labouring quietly in the studio. As you’ll see from their dialogue, tap dance today involves grounding in the history of the form, paying homage to past masters, and creating new works and new kinds of music through tap.
Last June, media outlets in this country were abuzz with coverage of changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. In the feature article, “Lasting Effects,” Bridget Cauthery considers how those changes have affected the dance community in important ways. She discovers that this blanket top-down policy overlooks fundamental economic realities in the performing arts and undermines the nomadic, multicultural and international qualities of dance. In two sidebars, we speak with Sahara Morimoto and Naishi Wang about their experiences living and working in Canada before and since becoming permanent residents.
Kira Hofmann began her training at the Canadian School of Ballet in Kelowna, B.C., before leaping over to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School (RWBS), where she graduated with distinction from the Professional Division in 2013. Next, she set her sights on Europe and entered the post-secondary John Cranko School in Stuttgart, Germany. After only six months, Hofmann was offered a contract as an apprentice with the Stuttgart Ballet where she’s been dancing since September.
“I live in my body,” Mélissa ‘Melly Mel’ Flérangile replies, without a hint of irony, to a question about the location of her home base. For one who is constantly travelling, this is not surprising. Her social media status, “Just because I wander, doesn’t mean I’m lost” echoes this nomadic ethos. Flérangile is a dancer in the Ottawa-based dance company Bboyizm.
An accomplished artist and teacher, Christine Wright has spent the major part of her illustrious career in New York City. She had a respectable eleven-year stint as a dancer with the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, and then spent twenty-seven years building an unparalleled reputation as a movement teacher. Specializing in ballet syllabus for contemporary dancers, she recently relocated to Toronto where she offers open classes to the local community and is company teacher for Peggy Baker Dance Projects.
Nichols founded the Extension Method in 2003 after inventing specific workouts at the gym to support her own professional career as a dancer. Allegro Ballet Bootcamp is one of her eight established classes, which also include Développé Ballet Sculpt, Adagio Stretch and, most recently, La Ronde: Ballet on the Ball. The Extension Room is in Toronto.
Jump performance is not just about height. It’s about how your foot can articulate and push off the ground to initiate coordinated movement. It’s also about breath and core control. The three phases of a jump are preparation, ascending and landing. Each phase requires the coordination of different muscle groups. Understanding how to engage your body during each phase, in addition to committing to self-care and conditioning, will take your jump performance to new heights.
Between dance and the Rorschach tests there’s a “continuum of ambiguity,” says Alina Sotskova, who began experimenting with the connection between dance and the aesthetics of the inkblot while recovering from two knee surgeries. When she started working on her series of edited, manipulated photographs, “Ghosts of Rorschach,” she was looking for a way of maintaining her connection to dance.