This article is published through our Regional Reporter Program. We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts through the Digital Now initiative.
New Dance Horizons’ Stream of Dance Festival, June 9-10 in Regina, featured more than 30 Prairie artists primarily based in Regina and Winnipeg. The festival has been connecting Prairie artists since 2001, providing performance opportunities in a region where pursuing a career in dance can be challenging.
Robin Poitras, co-founder of New Dance Horizons and co-curator of Stream of Dance, commented on the “richness in all the different kinds of networking that go on, even in a little festival like this.” She described the festival as “grounded in contemporary dance” while showcasing a range of movement styles.
“To have a performance practice is already hard enough, but to have one in a small, somewhat isolated Prairie city… I’m grateful that there’s a platform here that is so open and available and willing to connect different communities, different dance forms, and have that go on a stage,” said Tessa Rae Kuz, one of the artists who performed at the festival, referring to both Stream of Dance and New Dance Horizons.
“Coming out of the COVID cocoon, so to speak, for me there’s a new gratitude of being able to step on stage and… really feel how much of a privilege that is.”
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Stream of Dance was presented as an online format in 2020, which is still available to view online. The festival did not take place in 2021.
Brooke Hess, who performed at this year’s festival in a large group work titled Quadriga 22, spoke about the pleasure of “dancing without a mask” and “getting to dance in contact with each other” after a long period of COVID-19 restrictions.
Quadriga 22 is choreographed by Stream of Dance curators Robin and Edward Poitras and features 22 performers. The work has been developed over a period of many years and continues to evolve.
“I performed Quadriga for the first time with a group of eight,” said Hess. “It was really special revisiting the work… getting to experience that with so many more people… connecting the Prairies and connecting the artists on the Prairies.”
The festival also featured the choreography of Montreal’s Margie Gillis.
“It’s so extraordinary to see an artist with so much knowledge, intuition, compassion, creativity and real genuine fire,” said Robin about Gillis. The work, titled Open Soul of the Prairie, was performed by Kuz.
“I finally got the opportunity, now that things are opening up again, to present [Open Soul of the Prairie] here in Saskatchewan, which felt really important,” said Kuz, speaking about the work’s connection to “the Prairie landscape, the vastness of horizon, the wind.”
New Dance Horizons has already started their next program, Summer Arts Adventure, which offers a series of dance and arts experiences for children aged seven to 14, taking place between June 13 and Sept. 9 in five modules.
“We’ve gone from the Stream of Dance into the Summer Arts Adventure without blinking,” said Robin with a laugh.
“We’re still digesting what just happened,” she continued. “This festival felt a little bit like a miracle after all the separation.”