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The Purposeful Presence of Kate Holden

By Brittany Duggan

One of Toronto’s most enthralling performers, Kate Holden has danced her way through some of the city’s most inspired companies (Danny Grossman Dance Company, Dancemakers, Peggy Baker), all the while taking her career and practice into her own hands. A committed interpreter, Holden discusses the progress of her career and having purpose and presence in its course.

Kate Holden identifies most strongly as an interpreter, over the years dancing with some of Toronto’s landmark companies, including Danny Grossman Dance Company, Dancemakers and Peggy Baker. Her interest in continuing to grow, personally and professionally, has meant taking control of her career, and moving on when she had exhausted the learning potential of any given situation. Having started firsthingsfirst productions she continues to develop as a dancer, while maintaining an active career as interpreter to the city’s top choreographers.


Kate Holden s’identifie avant tout comme interprète, ayant dansé au fil des ans avec des compagnies phares de Toronto, y compris Danny Grossman Dance Company, Dancemakers et Peggy Baker Dance Projects. Son besoin de développement personnel et professionnel l’amène à prendre sa carrière en main, et à changer de contexte lorsqu’elle épuise son potentiel de croissance. Elle est cofondatrice de la compagnie firstthingsfirst productions et continue à se perfectionner comme danseuse. Sa carrière auprès des plus grands chorégraphes en ville est toujours active.

Kate Holden in her version of Brahms Waltzes (2013) by Peggy Baker / Photo by Jeremy Mimnagh


Is Everyone A Critic?

Changing Paradigms in Dance Criticism
By Kathleen Smith

This past spring, tensions simmered in the Toronto dance community between artists and critics in the mainstream media. In this feature article, Kathleen Smith has undertaken to investigate the issues that arose – exploring the history, the central issues, the problems and the questions that characterize the discourse today.

Choreographer Peter Chin called out his critics–first over a lack of nuance and cultural specificity with respect to the culturally diverse and non-western dance practices his work Returning Empathis was quoting and then ultimately requesting in a public letter that certain critics refrain from reviewing his work altogether. It became clear (from candid conversations and public debates on social media) that the community wanted to talk about the current state of dance discourse. 


Au printemps dernier, il y a eu une montée des tensions entre les artistes et les critiques des grands médias dans la communauté de danse à Toronto. Le chorégraphe Peter Chin a dénoncé des critiques, en premier lieu sur un manque de nuance et de spécificité culturelle en regard des citations de pratiques de danse diverses et non occidentales dans sa création Returning Empathis. Dans une lettre ouverte, il a éventuellement demandé que certains critiques s’abstiennent d’écrire sur son travail. Certaines conversations franches et des débats publics dans les médias sociaux ont mis en lumière le souhait collectif d’engager un dialogue sur l’état actuel du discours en danse. Kathleen Smith entreprend exactement cela dans l’article ci-dessus : elle explore l’histoire, les enjeux et les questions qui caractérisent le discours actuel.

Excerpted still from The Re-View Project by Linnea Swan 


Dance Curation at dance: made in canada/fait au canada

A conversation between Tedd Robinson, Debashis Sinha and Yvonne Ng
By Molly Johnson

Founded in 2000, dance: made in canada/fait au canada is a one-of-a-kind presenting platform of works from across the country. Guest curators, Tedd Robinson, Debashis Sinha and Yvonne Ng discuss their thinking and decision-making for this summer’s event.

 Since 2011, guest curators have been invited to select a series of works to be presented. In 2015, Tedd Robinson of 10 Gates Dancing and musician, composer, artist Debashis Sinha curate the festival. They discuss their thinking and decision-making with festival founder and artistic director Yvonne Ng.


Fondé en 2000, dance: made in canada / fait au canada est une plateforme de diffusion unique pour des créations d’une part et d’autre du pays. Depuis 2011, des commissaires invités participent à la programmation. En 2015, Tedd Robinson de 10 Gates Dancing Inc. et Debashis Sinha, musicien, compositeur et artiste, sont commissaires du festival. Ils discutent de leurs perspectives et décisions avec Yvonne Ng, fondatrice et directrice artistique du festival.

They Shoot Buffalo, Don’t They? by Troy Emery Twigg with Ryan Cunningham / Photo by Marc J. Chalifoux Photography 


The Becoming of Dance

By Melanie Gordon

Working at the intersection of dance and photography, Melanie Gordon’s interest in process takes us behind the scenes and into the studio spaces where creation happens. Working in a photojournalistic style, Gordon documents the quiet, the happenstance, the ‘aha! moments’ and the simple daily work of choreographer Jennifer Dallas.

“A photograph is the intersection between being and doing,” says Melanie Gordon, offering a truism that could equally apply to dance. Gordon has been developing that intersection since high school where, even at that early stage, she was encouraged to be intentional about creative choices. With degrees in fine art and cultural anthropology from the University of Toronto, two degrees that inform her practice today, Gordon explains: “My photographic process begins with being curious about life, being an observer of people and being open to emotional moments, with the desire to want people to feel something when they look at my photographs.” For her project with Toronto-based choreographer and dancer Jennifer Dallas, she describes her stance as “quiet and unobtrusive,” wanting to “follow the dancer’s lead.” In this case, that lead took them out into the city where Dallas was rehearsing in a dry outdoor skating rink. “I loved the setting, loved that she was claiming neighbourhood space for dance,” says Gordon.

Jennifer Dallas / Photography by Melanie Gordon



Truth Tellers, All and None
By Kate Morris

One of the best parts about the past year has been the hospitality of the dance community and, in my capacity as editor, the opportunity to see as much performance as possible. I often took friends and colleagues, my husband or brother along to shows, and quite often it has been the highlight of their year. It was always interesting to hear them respond to the works in casual conversation at the pub afterward. They would unlock deep aspects of the work gleaned from interpretations of the tiniest of gestures; they would describe a sequence of movement using the quirkiest of metaphors. It was a delight! I tried (and failed) to get a podcast going for The Dance Current called “The Other Ticket,” which would have given voice to the idiosyncratic and insightful responses of my guests because this kind of dialogue is valuable. It gives (to otherwise tentative audience members) the permission to speak and to invest in the works they see through expressions of their own. It lets them be creative in the very act of making sense of art. 

However interesting and unique these impressions, I always considered them a mode of responding that was distinct from that of a dance critic – even if I suspect they sit as two points on the same spectrum – they were interpretations mostly, the occasional expression of preference, but not critical engagements with the form. 

The role of the critic in dance is tricky – shows run for such a short period of time that reviews can hardly be said to make or break attendance records anymore. Public relations teams come up with content that masquerades as informative, when in fact it is just well-camouflaged product placement. Yet interest in objective perspectives is implied by the increasing use of the “outside eye” in the very creation of works. Reviewers have to build a specific kind of knowledge and such a specific, technical language that critics might seem naturally to come from a strong background in dance, yet when I tried to assign reviews, many artists refused because of deep conflicts of interest that were prohibitive for the writer’s ability to be honest. How can you, in good conscience, review the show of a company that you hope to be hired by in future? How can you review a show presented by a company that you hope will present your own work one day, or worse, that already has? The truth is, you can’t. Because a good reviewer, like a good artist, must always be willing to risk the imperatives of propriety to speak the truth, whether that be to say what no one wants to hear or to raise their voice in praise. ~

dc.editor@thedancecurrent.com | Follow me on Twitter at @TDC_editor

Emerging Views

Graham Kaplan at NDT 2
By Kayla Hoolwerf

Originally from Vancouver, Graham Kaplan is living his dream, dancing in The Hague with Nederlands Dans Theater 2 (NDT 2). Kaplan started dancing hip hop at age nine, but eventually switched to ballet. He is a graduate of Arts Umbrella (2013) where he collaborated with Ballet BC. Kaplan participated in the Movement Invention Project in New York City, summer courses with NDT and was a dancer with Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal for a season and a half. His full-time contract with NDT 2 started this past January. The company is split into two tiers, NDT 2 being the younger, junior company. Now finally settling in to his new home, Kaplan is taking in everything the company and the country have to offer. 

Graham Kaplan / Photo by Michael Slobodian

Making Waves

Lacey Smith
By Brittany Duggan

The life of an independent dance artist is about finding balance. For London, Ont.-based Lacey Smith that balance includes choreographing for her company, Dasein Dance Theatre, running her new studio, Dasein Dance School, performing as an interpreter in other artists’ work – which includes a handful of established Toronto choreographers such as Denise Fujiwara, DA Hoskins, Andrea Nann, Robert Desrosiers and Gerry Trentham – and helping to run London’s first contemporary dance festival, FLUX London Dance Festival, as artistic director. Admittedly, forging her career has taken a number of years, but Smith knew early on that she wanted and needed to create an environment for herself where she could not only survive in dance, but thrive. She’s been building the conditions for her own success ever since.

Lacey Smith / Photo by Paula Tizzard


Lata Pada
By Colleen Snell

Lata Pada, C.M., is the founder and artistic director of Sampradaya Dance Creations and the founder of Sampradaya Dance Academy in Mississauga, Ont. She is the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Order of Canada (the first South Asian artist to receive this honour), the 2011 Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award from the President of India and the 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Pada was seven when she started training in bharatanatyam in Cochin, India. She went on to advanced training with Guru Kalyanasundaram in Mumbai. Today, she is one of Canada’s most prolific dance artists, an ambassador for the arts both nationally and internationally.

Lata Pada / Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

Studio Now

Alternative Models at hub14
By Marie France Forcier

Unassuming at first glance, hub14 is bare bones and intimate. However, imprints of its substantial artistic exploration- and performance-hosting history have accumulated over the past ten years on its dark wooden floor, exposed-beam ceiling and white walls. The tangible energy emanating from these surfaces has made the 700-square-foot studio a favourite creative home to many. 

Abhilash Ningapp and Kate Nankervis / Photo by Dwain Jones

What's In Your Dance Bag

Artistic Director of Blue Ceiling dance Lucy Rupert

Healthy Dancer: Training & Conditioning

Surviving the Dance Intensive
By Dr. Blessyl Buan

For many dancers, participating in an intensive is the perfect opportunity to enhance technique and grow as a performer. As the name suggests, however, intensives can be intense experiences and it is important for dancers to appreciate how this mode of training can affect their mental and physical performance. How can you prevent becoming overwhelmed with the physical demands of such programs? How can you overcome mental or emotional roadblocks when an intensive program goes off-course or does not meet your expectations? 

Sean Ling, Ric Brown, Peggy Baker and Mateo Galindo Torres / Photo by Makoto Hirata

Healthy Recipe

Dark Chocolate Bark with Almonds, Dates and Flax
By Jennifer Nickle

This antioxidant and mineral-rich snack is great for promoting cardiovascular health and for replenishing depleted glycogen stores after a workout. Combine it with a post-routine protein drink for optimal recovery. 


Contact Dance International Film Festival
By Kayla Hoolwerf

The second biennial Contact Dance International Film Festival in Toronto is different from a traditional film festival. Most of the screenings take place in dance studios rather than movie theatres. That’s probably a good thing, because the audience is invited to spend about as much time dancing as they do watching the films.

Dancers from Compania Sharon Fridman in Rizoma Paris: The Documentary by Andrea Vázquez / Photo courtesy of Contact Dance International Film Festival

Check It Out

Touring Through Time: Vancouver

Next time you’re walking through Vancouver looking for a different way to explore the city, check out the interactive walking tour of the city’s dance past on Dance Collection Danse’s (DCD) website.

The fourth, or“New Orpheum”, on Granville Street, 1929 / Photo courtesy of Dance Collection Danse

Body Language

Poetry's Powwow
By Shannon Webb-Campbell

I’ll never forget my first powwow. Moved by throbbing drums, powerful chants and the visceral physicality of the dancers, my body betrayed me, and released a physical truth. All of my ancestors’ bodily pain washed over me. It was late June 2010, just after the summer solstice, and the Halifax Common was covered with teepees, native crafts, food and art, powwow dancers draped in feathers and animal hide. Thousands gathered to mark the 400th anniversary of the Mi’kmaq Grand Chief Membertou.

400th anniversary of the Mi’kmaq Grand Chief Membertou in Halifax / Photo by Joanne E. Sylliboy

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