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The Greatest Show on Earth

Redefining Circus for the Twenty-First Century
By Molly Johnson

Exploring the exciting world of contemporary circus in Québec. Writer Molly Johnson tracks the public and social infrastructures that have created a spirit of progressive collaboration there and investigates why the contemporary circus community is not as vibrant elsewhere in Canada.

In Québec, the circus business is booming on all fronts. But elsewhere in Canada, circus simply doesn’t exist or resonate the way it does in Quebec and other parts of the world. In Europe, contemporary circus has been given the recognition it needs to grow, allowing it to become more nuanced, more experimental, less bent on entertainment.

What keeps the greater part of the country from fully embracing contemporary circus? It is a globally recognized artistic discipline. It is alive and well and rapidly expanding within one of our most potent home grown cultural climates. It is an art form with a built in audience, one that appeals to the masses and it is also an art form with a social conscience. It is inherently multidisciplinary, inviting collaborators of all shades, and it is just beginning to reimagine the possibilities of what it can be, as good contemporary art should. Perhaps most crucial to the perspective of those in the dance milieu, it is an art form that is embracing dance with open arms, with employment, with opportunities to help shape the new circus aesthetic. Why resist?


Au Québec, les arts du cirque foisonnent à tous les niveaux. Ailleurs au Canada, pourtant, ils n’en existent simplement pas, ou ils n’ont pas la même résonance qu’au Québec ou à l’étranger. En Europe, la reconnaissance qu’on accorde au cirque contemporain lui permet de croître, de trouver plus de nuances et d’expérimenter, plutôt que de se donner uniquement au divertissement. Pourquoi la majorité du pays se retient-elle d’accueillir le cirque contemporain à bras ouverts ? C’est une discipline artistique reconnue mondialement. C’est aussi une forme qui engage d’emblée le public, qui attire les masses et qui a une conscience sociale. Intrinsèquement multidisciplinaire, le cirque invite des collaborateurs de tout horizon et, comme toute pratique artistique contemporaine, oeuvre à l’exploration des possibles. Une considération importante pour les travailleurs en danse : le cirque reçoit la danse ouvertement, avec de l’emploi et des occasions de participer à la nouvelle esthétique du cirque. Pourquoi résister ? 

Sabine Jean, Gregory Arsenal and Philip Rosenberg of the National Circus School in C’est assez pour aujourd’hui directed by Alain Francoeur / Photo by Roland Lorente 


Introspection and Retrospection

The Other Sides of Joe Laughlin
By Naomi Brand

Moving forward after the twenty-fifth anniversary of Joe Ink, Joe Laughlin reflects on life as a choreographer, dancer and community activist.


Établit à Vancouver depuis le début des années 1980, l’interprète et chorégraphe Joe Laughlin revient sur sa carrière : le séminaire chorégraphique national en 1985 où il est jeune danseur, sa série de revers personnels, sa recherche pour de l’inspiration en Afrique du Sud, l’atelier de danse intergénérationnel gratuit Move It! qu’il offre plusieurs fois par année en Colombie-Britannique, et finalement, la rétrospective qui soulignait le vingt-cinquième anniversaire de sa compagnie Joe Ink l’an passé. En discussion avec la rédactrice Naomi Brand, il parle franchement de l’incidence de sa vie personnelle sur son parcours en danse. 

Joe Laughlin / Photo by Michael Slobodian


Pictures From an Exhibition

A Season in Reviews
By Kathleen Smith

With text by Mercedes Déziel-Hupé, Lucy M. May, George Stamos, Philip Szporer, Holly Harris, Bee Pallomina and Johanna Bundon, Ben Portis, Sarah Todd, and Marie France Forcier. Images by Valerie Sangin, Guntar Kravis, Jared Reid, Anne-Flore de Rochambeau, Chrystia Chudczak, Joshua Armstrong, David Hou, Marc J Chalifoux Photography, Jeremy Mimnagh, Clancy Dennehy.

This past season the national dance discourse has been preoccupied with publics, presenters and participation. With this in mind, we’ve extracted a handful of events reviewed by The Dance Current over the past year as representative of a mindset, one that simultaneously celebrates (as a remarkable number of individuals and institutions reach landmark anniversaries) and questions where the art form is going. In their own way, each of these events posits new possibilities and models that address the realities of making, presenting and consuming art in an age of uncertainty. These gorgeous images and extracts of provocative texts encapsulate the work of so many dance artists, photographers, writers and designers – we share them here as an encore with well-deserved bravos to all. 

Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg in her own work Porno Death Cult / Photo by Clancy Dennehy 


Curation Considered

A Report
By Kathleen Smith

In April, the Art Curators Association of Québec (ACAQ) held an international symposium, Envisioning the Practice, which included discussions and presentations of dance and performance. Kathleen Smith discusses the major debates and subjects with particular attention to the ethics (and prejudices) of presenting and curating.

Organisé par les cofondatrices de l’Association des commissaires des arts du Québec Dena Davida et Jane Gabriels, Illumination : symposium international sur le commissariat des arts de la scène, une pratique à consolider se tenait à Montréal en avril. Pendant trois jours et trois soirs, plusieurs salles à l’Agora Hydro-Québec de l’UQÀM (ainsi que d’autres lieux) résonnaient avec d’intenses discussions en deux langues (le tout étant traduit en simultané par une équipe d’interprètes habiles et dévoués, professionnels et improvisés). Cette exploration collective de questions sur le commissariat s’étendait de la définition de termes simples comme « commissaire » et « commissariat » à la relation historique des arts de la scène aux archives, à des études de cas de projets et d’expositions représentatifs ou alternatifs qui suscitent toutes sortes de questions dans le milieu international des arts. Les sources étaient multiples et la danse occupait une place d’importance. 

Envisioning the Practice /  Photo by Pascale Yensen 



By Kate Morris

Lines of Flight

“All roads lead to dance,” proclaimed Philip Szporer during a recent phone conversation. We were reflecting on times spent working in other capacities – he has worked as a broadcaster, producer, columnist and educator, while I have worked in film and television, publishing, visual art and academia. There are many ways to enter into dance and I think what we both were intuiting was the sense of relief about (finally) arriving here. It’s a relief, because in many respects dance is the form that other arts often dream about and aspire toward while searching to find their feet, gain traction and then soar.

The circus arts in Canada have garnered significant critical attention and international acclaim and this issue explores the convergence of dance and circus. Molly Johnson’s feature article considers a number of important social initiatives and circus training facilities in this country. Naomi Brand profiles Joe Laughlin, artistic director of Vancouver dance company Joe Ink, who reflects on his life and career, while the photo essay, Pictures from an Exhibition, collects images and texts from performances we’ve reviewed in the last year. I would be remiss not to mention that the feature section of this issue has been compiled and edited by the brilliant Kathleen Smith: the circus theme was her vision and I hope we’ve done it justice. 

On behalf of The Dance Current and our readers, I would like to thank MJ Thompson for consistently bringing an inclusive and progressive voice to the magazine through her column Everyday Moves. Thompson began Everyday Moves in 2009, in this issue she bids us farewell with a collection of thoughts on climate-change and the weather. We wish her all the best for her upcoming projects.

Follow me on Twitter at @TDC_editor

Making Waves

Throwdown Collective
By Bridget Cauthery

Toronto contemporary dancers Mairéad Filgate, Brodie Stevenson and Zhenya Cerneacov started their collective in 2008 during breaks while touring Ontario with Dusk Dances.


Darren Charles
By Armando Biasi

Choreographer and resident director for Odysseo the wildly popular equine extravaganza produced by Cavalia.

Emerging Views

Cody Cox and Karley Kyle-Moffat
By Megan Kimmerer

Recent graduates of the dance program at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, and are the recipients of the Training Society of Vancouver’s Emerging Artists scholarship for the summer’s Working Class program.

Studio Now

Ballet Espressivo
By Brittany Duggan

Toronto dance studio for adults with classes in classical ballet, ballet floor barre, modern dance and improvisation.

What's In Your Dancebag?

Toronto designer and dancer Duygu Basmaci.

“Anti-slip socks. Originally designed for yoga, but they are perfectly comfortable for modern and improvisation classes,” says Duygu Basmaci, student at Ballet Espressivo and creative director of Vivid Design in Toronto. Learn what else makes up Basmaci’s dancebag here



Healthy Dancer: Training & Conditioning

By Dr. Blessyl Buan

Hypermobility and Upper Body Strength in Circus and Dance

The Goods

Lolë Travel Yoga Mat


By Kate Morris

Patricia Beatty’s Slow Words Dancing

Check It Out

Summer Reading List


New Decidedly Jazz Dance Centre to open in 2015; Ballet Kelowna’s David LaHay departs as the season closes; New Standard for Dance Teacher Training

July/August Performance Highlights

Dusk Dances in Vancouver, Haliburton, Peterborough, Hamilton and Toronto; Banff Summer Arts Festival with Heidi Strauss, Dance Masters and 2014 Indigenous Dance Residency; Danse Cadence with Voyage baroque en Paris in Montréal, Karen Jamieson Dance with solo|soul in Vancouver at Dancing on the Edge Festival; Festival des arts de Saint-Sauveur in Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts, QC; The Naked Ballerina by Sarah Murphy-Dyson in Hamilton.

Everyday Moves

By MJ Thompson

Clean Air Acts

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