Back Issue



Loud and Clear

By Rachel Silver Maddock

With his dance company, Radical System Art, lined up for multiple tours in the coming months, Artistic Director Shay Kuebler sits down with Rachel Maddock to talk about his life in dance.

“I think dance is the meeting point of athletics and artistry” he says, and this approach is evident in his acrobatic choreography. The company members are currently working with Kuelber to develop a new full-length work called Epilogus, to premiere in May 2019, investigating the role of value systems in our lives.


Alors que sa compagnie Radical System Art prépare plusieurs tournées dans les mois à venir, Shay Kuebler, directeur artistique, s’assoit avec Rachel Maddock pour parler de son parcours. « Selon moi, la danse incarne l’intersection entre l’athlétisme et l’art », explique-t-il. Ses chorégraphies acrobatiques illustrent bien sa pensée. La compagnie travaille actuellement à une nouvelle création intégrale intitulée Epilogus, qui sera présenté en première en mai 2019. Le travail explore les systèmes de valeurs dans nos vies.

Kuebler in his work Karoshi / Photo by David Cooper



See the bold burlesque moves of four politically motivated Canadian burlesque troupes whose performances unseat gender, racial and colonial narratives. Featuring Virago Nation, Les Femmes Fatales, Boylesque TO and Gender F_ck.


Scarlet Delirium, Ruthe Ordare, Sparkle Plenty, Shane Sable, RainbowGlitz and Manda Stroyer / Photo by Tiffany Irelan


The Red Wall

By Deanne Kearney

Within the past five years, there has been an influx of dance class videos within the commercial dance community on social media platforms. With this influx comes new conversations and debates on the ethics behind videography in the classroom.

Commercial choreographers and dancers are expressing new pressures being placed on dance classes for producing professional level videography. While some dancers embrace the opportunity to perform for the camera, others lament that the classroom atmosphere has shifted from a learning space to a performance space.


Au cours des cinq dernières années, les vidéos de classes de danse commerciale connaissent un grand essor dans les médias sociaux. Ce phénomène soulève de nouvelles questions sur l’éthique de la vidéographie dans un contexte de classe. Les chorégraphes et danseurs parlent d’une nouvelle pression dans les classes pour produire des vidéos de calibre professionnel. Et alors que certains interprètes accueillent favorablement l’occasion de danser pour la caméra, d’autres trouvent dommage que l’espace soit maintenant davantage axé sur la performance plutôt que sur l’apprentissage.

Djouliet Amara / Photo courtesy of Amara


Transforming with Intent

By charles c. smith

Reflecting on his participation in Black arts practices, charles c. smith offers guidelines for approaching creation and developing a rapport between professional artists and community members that allows for more intense sharing and creative development. Plus, The Dance Current interviews other artists doing community-based work.

Reflecting on his childhood growing up in an immigrant Black family and participating in Black arts practices, smith outlines how his experience in community engaged arts practices have shaped his current work with wind in the leaves collective in Toronto. “My involvement never let me think or feel that I was less than the ‘professionals,’ he reveals. 


charles c smith réfléchit à son enfance au sein d’une famille d’immigrants noirs et à sa participation aux pratiques artistiques noires. Son expérience dans les processus engagées dans la communauté a été formatrice pour son travail actuel avec le wind in the leaves collective à Toronto. « [Dans ma jeunesse,] lorsque je pratiquais, rien ne me laissait croire que j’étais moindre comparé aux “professionnels” », révèle-t-il. L’artiste offre des lignes directrices pour aborder la création et bâtir des relations entre des artistes professionnels et des membres d’une communauté; ses propositions favorisent la transparence dans le partage et le développement créatif.

Photo courtesy of Nina Jane Patel



By Emma Doran

Who do you think of as your community? For The Dance Current, the issue is multi-faceted. Is our community made up of subscribers? Social media followers? The artists we feature? The arts workers who support their work? The more I think about it, the more web-like “our community” seems. The matter has always been a nebulous one for us.

Since I started this position, I’ve been trying to consider (and sometimes reconsider) our relationships with the communities we talk about, who support us, who we serve and those we have yet to collaborate with.

Ethically speaking, it’s tricky. We’re working on the balance of attaining impartiality as media (a myth in many ways) and making and maintaining trust-based, meaningful connections with dancers and workers in the sector. Geographically speaking, we’re often reaching out via email. We’re also thinking about how, as media, we can develop a land acknowledgement in a meaningful way, with input from those across the country. Community becomes, for us, a logistical issue we’re continuing to problem solve, while working to promote the astonishing dance made across the country.

Which leads me to another question: how does media engage in community practices? As a first step to answering this, we’re starting with artists – those who’re working outside the sphere of “the dance community” as we typically think of it. In part one of a two-part feature, charles c. smith has written an introduction in which he outlines some principles he developed in his years of working within communities and with artists.

The impact of social media on our parameters of community is explored within our feature, in which Deanne Kearney discusses how the ubiquity of social media within the commercial dance sector is changing, for some, the experience of taking dance classes. In our feature profile, Shay Kuebler discusses how working in a collective has shaped his work. Finally, in our photo essay, we’ve opened up our community sphere to delve into the world of burlesque to see how performers are offering us provocations that challenge gender binaries, race and sexuality.

I look forward to where these questions lead us.



Seeking the swing of a dip
By Jillian Groening

Nikola Steer

An esteemed burlesque and cabaret performer, Steer has toured extensively. She has been highly ranked on multiple lists of top performers globally and is also the director of programming and creative director for the Toronto Burlesque Festival.


Steer as Coco Framboise / Photo by Andrea Hausmann


She's got the "Taksu"
By Emma Doran

Firda Wijaya

Wijaya is an active dancer. Specializing in Indonesian folk dance, she took home first place in the traditional dance category at the Vancouver World Dance Competition in 2016. 


Wijaya / Photo courtesy of Wijaya


Physical Literacy for Dancers
By Jenn Carson

What exactly is physical literacy (PL), and why does it matter to dancers? Let’s start with the easy answer: think of it as “bodily intelligence.”

Beyond honing the basic foundational movements of any dance discipline, having adequate physical literacy also requires us to know when we are overtrained, what foods make our body function at its best, how many hours of sleep we need and when an emotional issue is contributing to physical symptoms and may need to be addressed by a professional.


Carson / Photo by Karen Ruet

The List

Nancy Hitzig

What inspires Nancy Hitzig?

Lindy hop has captivated Toronto-born Nancy Hitzig for more than thirteen years. Now based in London, England, she’s a recent nominee for One Dance UK’s 2018 Inspirational Community Dance Practitioner Award.


Stephen Atemie and Hitzig / Photo by Dan Erez


Telling Stories of Opression
By Doris Rajan

A discussion of truth, process and objective in No Woman’s Land

Performative arts, dance and theatre hold immense potential for telling unseen stories; as an embodied practice, performance can initiate a learning process into the experiences of people who have been subjected to extreme oppressive circumstances.


Irma Villafuerte and Nickeshia Garrick in Jaberi’s No Woman’s Land / Photo by Zahra Saleki

Check It Out

Fred & Fred, Ginger & Ginger

A new documentary about same-sex ballroom dancing

Ernesto Palma is part of the little-known same-sex competitive ballroom dance scene. The charismatic Palma appears in director Gail Freedman’s new documentary, Hot to Trot, which premiered in New York on August 24th, 2018, presented by First Run Features.


Palma and Nikolai Shpakov / Photo by Curt Worden


Getting Involved at the Federal Level
By Kate Cornell

The 2018 Arts Day on the Hill

Read the full article here

Why should the dance community care about politics? Kate Cornell writes about why it’s important for dance artists to get involved and offers tips on how to convincingly speak to politicians.


Cornell and Senator Patricia Bovey at Arts Day 2018 / Photo courtesy of Canadian Dance Assembly


Being Alice

This winter The National Ballet of Canada will bring Christopher Wheeldon’s neoclassical adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland back to the stage. Running from March 7th through 17th at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Lewis Carroll’s classic tale will star Jillian Vanstone as Alice. The Dance Current caught up with her backstage.

“Alice has always been a special role for me. Being cast as the title role for the North American premiere was one of the biggest opportunities of my career – it earned me my promotion to principal dancer and also allowed me to make my debut at Lincoln Centre, when The National Ballet of Canada toured to New York.

I absolutely love dancing the role. Christopher’s choreography is incredibly musical, and I love how he uses humour throughout the ballet. Some of my favourite moments are when I get to be over the top; for instance, in the tea party or pig and pepper scenes.

Preparing for the role involves building up a lot of stamina because Alice barely leaves the stage. My favourite part of preparing is working on the character and her storytelling. A ballet like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland offers so much artistically as well as technically for its performers and audiences, and I’m thrilled to be tackling it again.”



Vanstone / Photo by Taylor Jewel


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