As Roger Sinha celebrates his twenty-fifth season as artistic director of Sinha Danse, he considers the themes that began his career and continue to inspire him: racism, bullying and interpersonal communications.
Today, Sinha is recognized for his fusion of contemporary dance, martial arts and classical Indian influences. As in 1992 when he began, his work continues to be vested in issues of identity, race, communication and belonging. Lucy Fandel presents a profile of an artist who has spent his career trying to define and redefine himself in the face of the categories and labels others have placed on him.
Roger Sinha, chorégraphe et directeur artistique de Sinha Danse à Montréal, œuvre en danse depuis 25 ans. Aujourd’hui, il est reconnu pour sa fusion de danse contemporaine, d’arts martiaux et d’influences de danse classique indienne. Tout comme à ses débuts comme créateur en 1992, il continue à explorer les questions d’identité, de race, de communication et d’appartenance. Lucy Fandel trace le portrait d’un artiste qui se définit et se redéfinit par rapport aux catégories et aux étiquettes qu’on lui appose depuis l’enfance.
Roger Sinha / Photo by Adriana Garcia Cruz
A look at the next generation of dancers through performance images of professional and degree-granting programs from across the country. In recognition of the numerous excellent programs across the country, The Dance Current will present an expanded and enhanced online gallery of the images.
Whether developed in association with professional companies, such as Canada’s National Ballet School, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School or The School of Toronto Dance Theatre, or through pioneering programs, like Canada’s first university-level dance program at York University in Toronto, established in 1970, our professional dance training programs continue to grow in capacity and quality. These schools and universities mould the next generations of dancers, providing them with mentors, practice and support in reaching their goals. There is an increasing demand for the variety of education and training programs on offer. As more and more young people choose to continue their dance education at a professional or bachelor’s level, what kind of work are they creating and what paths are they making for themselves?
The Dance Current asked some professional schools and dance degree–granting institutions from across the country to share photographs from their recent performances. They also provided the career paths of a few recent graduates of note. Individually, they give a sense of the personality of each school. Together, they demonstrate some of the depth and vitality of young Canadian dancers.
See our forthcoming online gallery for more fantastic images of the future dancers of Canada.
Audrey Ng (cenre) and the York Dance Ensemble in Rite Redux (2013) by Carol Anderson, Darcey Callison and Holly Small / Photo by David Hou
A personal exploration of the challenges and revelations of an emerging choreographer at Springboard Danse Montréal 2015.
Colleen Snell documents her experiences at this intensive choreographic workshop. Her journal examines the ways in which her understandings of herself as a choreographer evolved as she participated in the numerous tasks required of an emerging choreographer at the workshop: casting, directing rehearsals, taking classes with her colleagues and presenting her work alongside more established artists. As Snell documents the development of her own piece, she describes the excitement and challenges of creating a new work in this environment.
La chorégraphe émergente Colleen Snell documente son expérience comme chorégraphe émergente à Springboard Danse 2015, un stage intensif pour les danseurs et les chorégraphes à Montréal. Dans un journal de bord, Snell se penche sur l’évolution de sa conception de son travail de chorégraphe au cours des nombreuses activités de l’atelier : la sélection de danseurs lors d’une audition, la direction de répétition, les classes de danse avec ses collègues et la présentation de son travail dans un programme avec des chorégraphes établis. Elle décrit son excitation et les défis qu’elle surmonte dans le processus de création.
Participants of Springboard Danse 2015 in Effort, Time (2015) by Colleen Snell / Photo by Michael Slobodian
Whether your interests lie in commercial or contemporary dance, taking your career abroad could mean more employment opportunities and increased artistic satisfaction – not to mention a culturally diverse experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life. In these conversations mediated by Online Editor Brittany Duggan, four Canadian dancers discuss the possibilities and pitfalls of living and cworking beyond our country’s borders.
Taking your dance career abroad can mean more employment opportunities and increased artistic satisfaction, not to mention a culturally diverse experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Brittany Duggan mediates two conversations, one between contemporary dancers Jasmine Ellis and Liz Kinoshita who found their artistic homes in Europe and the other between commercial dancers Kristy Coleridge and Amber Yates who combined their desires to travel with more numerous and more diverse opportunities abroad. As they discuss, working outside of your native country is an adventure that has both its possibilities and its pitfalls.
Une carrière en danse à l’étranger peut amener plus d’occasions professionnelles et de satisfaction artistique, sans parler des expériences culturellement diverses qui marquent une vie. Brittany Duggan anime deux discussions numériques, une avec les danseuses contemporaines Jasmine Ellis et Liz Kinoshita qui ont trouvé leur domicile artistique en Europe, et l’autre entre Kristy Coleridge et Amber Yates qui ont conjugué leur désir de voyager avec un grand nombre de divers contrats à l’étranger. Elles confirment que travailler à l’extérieur de son pays natal est une aventure qui compte occasions et défis.
Liz Kinoshita and Justin F. Kennedy in VOLCANO by Kinoshita / Photo by Giannina Urmeneta Ottiker
I vividly remember the excitement of preparing my dance bag for the return to training in the fall. With any luck, I had been able to purchase a few new items: a pair of shoes, those leg warmers I had been wanting or that season’s newfangled training doodad. I had hopefully gotten around to cleaning the bag itself, after a year of maltreatment, and the leggings and bodysuits would have to make it through another season. Uncharacteristically, I would carefully fold the clothes and organize the space within the bag, so the shoes would be at one end, away from the water bottle, but near the tape and blister-care items. Thinking back, this ritual represents for me now the hope and aspirations that a new season of training and dancing offered. It was the tangible link to what the year promised: all the things I had not yet learned; all the laughs with friends I would have; the help from mentors and the exhilaration of improving and performing. A small bag of dreams.
This issue is about new starts and exciting returns. In particular, the passion and promise of many of our young dancers is represented in a photo essay of performance images from professional, college and university training programs from across the country. They serve as an excellent reminder of both the skill and diversity of our next generation of Canadian dancers. This energy is further exemplified by the participants at Springboard Danse 2015, as described by Colleen Snell in a thoughtful and introspective piece on the creative process of emerging choreographers. An abrupt and life-changing decision connects two of the artists profiled, Montréal’s Roger Sinha and Calgary’s Pam Tzeng. Both experienced sudden moments of awakening about the importance of dance in their lives that led to difficult phone calls to their parents about their new directions. New starts can be in space, as well as time. Brittany Duggan mediates a conversation between four Canadian dancers who have started careers across the globe. Together, all of these performers, both the established and the aspiring, provide an inspiring look at the quality and depth of the Canadian dance scene.
These beginnings apply closer to home, as well. The Dance Current has been given an exciting new and contemporary look, thanks to the talent of our new designer, Lois Kim. Internally, our staffing responsibilities have changed as Ms. Duggan, now working out of Vancouver, is our new dedicated online editor and Sarah Lochhead has taken up the position of assistant director. Megan Andrews continues to guide and steer the organization as executive director and I have taken over as editor from the inestimable Kate Morris.
I look forward to continuing the amazing conversation about dance that The Dance Current has fostered. Your questions and comments are always welcome. ~
Pam Tzeng is part place-maker and part shape-shifter. Her current projects range from creating, performing, commissioning and presenting contemporary dance to engaging in community-building initiatives. It seems appropriate, then, that the twenty-eight-year-old Calgarian has chosen to name her company Make Shift Project. “In one definition, makeshift is using what resources are available to create something that will work for that moment,” she says. It is a perfect description of a Canadian independent dance artist.
Pam Tzeng in her own work what is more / Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk
In a dance world often focused on looking for something new, it is not every young person who finds their inspiration, instead, in the dance of several centuries ago. For Elizabeth Kalashnikova, a dancer with Opera Atelier, North America’s premier period opera and ballet company, based out of Toronto, the past is a source of motivation and challenge.
Elizabeth Kalashnikova / Photo by David Walker
In the opening moments of Emily Pelstring’s Doing My Rounds, Checking Some Rounds (2013), a flickering image of Pelstring’s moving body appears, as the music of collaborators Alterity Problem builds. Captured in black and white from the calves up, and from a variety of angles, her movements include alternating shoulder lifts, angular Cunningham-esque arm gestures and a curving wrist sequence that rocks forward and back, presenting an upturned palm. These motifs overlap, multiply into a chorus of bodies and tune in and out like a distant station signal on an old television set. This work presented a fascinating blurring of lines: did the movement arise from the actions she was performing in the footage, or from the actions she had performed on the footage?
Film still from Doing My Rounds, Checking Some Rounds (2013) by Emily Pelstring
Originally from Winnipeg and a former student of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, Rachael McLaren has been a member of New York’s Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater since 2008. Among many others, her lead roles in Aszure Barton’s LIFT and Wayne McGregor’s Chroma have garnered critical acclaim. The Dance Current caught up with her in Paris, where the company was on tour, and asked her what her current sources of inspiration are and about a moment of inspiration during her career.
Rachael McLaren in From Before by Garth Fagan / Photo by Paul Kolnik
Montréal-based For Body and Light explores the relationship between text and movement, between the spoken word as a form of choreography and movement as a syntax for the body. Their current work, Coming and Going, inspired by a residency at Main & Station on the shores of the Bay of Fundy, combines the choreographic vision of multidisciplinary artist Stéphanie Morin-Robert and the poetry of award-winning poet and musician Ian Ferrier to explore the movement and meaning of tides. To support this work, Popolo Press, a Montréal boutique print and letterpress shop, has created a beautiful accompanying book that features the poetry included in Coming and Going.
A new season of training presents particular mental and physical challenges. When fatigue sets in, lingering background weaknesses can be seriously aggravated. For dancers beginning or returning to a rigorous regimen, injuries often occur in the lower limbs caused by a combination of repetitive strain and muscular imbalances, the result of poor technique. Having the strength of will to listen to symptoms and the discipline to add dance conditioning to studio time will help prevent these injuries.
Denise Solleza / Photo by Brittany Duggan
Founded by Mikaela Demers and Monika Volkmar, Dance Fuel is a cross-training and conditioning club for dancers in Toronto. Born of the two women’s desire to provide multi-faceted forms of training tailored to the needs of dancers, Dance Fuel emphasizes the need for bodies to engage in a wide range of strengthening activities, not always emphasized in dance training, as an important element in preventing injury and prolonging careers.
It is “the opportunity [for dancers] to learn something new,” explains Demers, “and to gain more information about physical health and [a participant’s] personal anatomy.” Why give it a try? Dance Fuel offers a welcoming environment that provides support for dancers seeking to develop new strengths and to gain new perspectives on physical wellbeing.
Monika Volkmar / Photo by Mikaela Demers
This delicious and filling dish is easy to throw together on a fall evening. The quinoa and hummus are high in protein to help tired muscles repair, while the kale’s high vitamin K content is good for healthy bones.
Photo courtesy of Shana Troy
Ottawa native Simon Xavier, stage alias Klassic, started dancing with his brothers at the age of three, learning Michael Jackson’s film Moonwalker from start to finish. From then on, he has been obsessed with the connections between movement and music. After performing with local crews in high school and developing his popping skills, he studied with Suga Pop, a member of the Electric Boogaloos, the group who had helped Michael Jackson learn how to pop. Since then, he has been living “this Boogaloo lifestyle”, winning competitions and teaching around the world. When in Ottawa, he teaches at the Flava Factory. The Dance Current asked him to tell us a bit about the studio, his teaching style and his role as dance coordinator at the House of PainT Hip Hop Festival.
Photo courtesy of Simon “Klassic” Xavier
This September, the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival (VIFF), founded by Rosario Ancer and her husband Victor Kolstee, celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary. This edition of the festival presents performances by world-renowned flamenco dancers Andres Peña and Pilar Ogalla. Through their dance, Peña and Ogalla combine the flamenco traditionalism of his Spanish hometown, Jerez de la Frontera, with the cosmopolitanism of hers, Cadiz. As a married couple, their work draws on their experiences of the beautiful but often heart-wrenching mixture of life, labour and love. They are an eloquent symbol for a festival built on the lives and loves of Ancer and Kolstee themselves. The VIFF continues to honour the same themes that have inspired their work for a quarter century, featured in a new retrospective work, Fast-forward Replay: the tensions and bonds between lives, work and family, between the homes we are born into and the homes we choose.
The Vancouver International Flamenco Festival runs September 12th through 27th, at various sites in Vancouver.
Rosario Ancer and Victor Kolstee / Photo by VNB Photography