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Organic Mechanics

By Helen Simard

Emmanuelle Lê Phan and Elon Höglund have a contagious, fast-paced energy and have always approached their art with a fierce passion. As co-founders of Tentacle Tribe, the Montréal-based pair have had a long creative partnership. They talk candidly about their work together and what’s next.

As co-founders of Tentacle Tribe, the pair have had long creative partnership that began in 2005, when they were both cast in Cirque du Soleil’s Love. After finishing their contract with Cirque in 2009, the duo made Montréal their home base while they toured the world performing with companies such as Cirque Éloize, RUBBERBANDance and Bboyizm. Helen Simard connected with Lê Phan and Höglund as they wrapped up a technical residency at the MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels). Between three new creations in the works, a busy touring schedule, teaching workshops and training several apprentice dancers, the pair have a lot on the go. 


Si vous les avez croisés, vous le savez déjà : la artistes passionnés Emmanuelle Lê Phan et Elon Höglund ont une énergie rapide et contagieuse. Cofondateurs de Tentacle Tribe, ils amorcent leur long partenariat en création en 2005, alors qu’ils dansent dans la production Love du Cirque du Soleil. Après la fin du contrat en 2009, le duo s’est établi à Montréal pendant qu’ils tournent avec des compagnies comme le Cirque Éloize, RUBBERBANDance et Bboyizm. Helen Simard a rencontré Lê Phan et Höglund à la fin d’une résidence technique au MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels). Les artistes travaillent fort avec trois nouvelles créations en cours, un horaire de tournée chargé, des engagements en enseignements et la formation de danseur·seuse·s apprentis.

Höglund and Lê Phan / Photo by Alexandre Gilbert


Do You Call Yourself a "Dancer"?

The Dance Current asked artists from across the country if they relate to the title.

For many performers and movers, labelling and describing what they do is a personal decision. In this special feature, The Dance Current asked artists from across the country to share whether or not they call themselves dancers. And, if they do, why and when they did so. The answers we received revealed that the decision can be discipline-specific, financial and emotional.

Read the full feature here.


Pour plusieurs interprètes et « bougeur·euse·s », le titre qu’il·elle·s adoptent est une décision personnelle. Dans cette rubrique spéciale, le Dance Current a demandé à des artistes d’une part et d’autre du pays à expliquer s’il·elle·s s’identifient comme danseur·seuse. Si la réponse était oui, on leur a demandé pourquoi? et depuis quand? Les réponses révèlent que la décision demeure particulière au style de danse, à la situation économique et à la sensibilité de chaque artiste.

Miranda Liverpool / Photo courtesy of Liverpool


A Tiny Partner

By Grace Wells-Smith

What is it like to dance before, during and after pregnancy? Angela Miracle Gladue and Jillian Peever met with Grace Wells-Smith to discuss their experiences navigating physical changes while continuing to dance professionally.

Both dancers felt apprehensive informing their employers and were relieved when accommodations were offered. However, they also expressed disappointment in having to say no to other jobs. After pregnancy, Gladue, who is a fancy shawl dancer, hoop dancer, jingle dress dancer and bgirl describes the mental battle of postpartum depression and contemporary dancer Peever reflects on feeling a self-imposed pressure to get “back in shape.” But both dancers also described feeling a confidence boost that came along with dancing while pregnant.


Qu’est-ce que c’est de danser avant, pendant et après une grossesse? Angela Miracle Gladue et Jillian Peever ont parlé de leur expérience à naviguer la transformation du corps et la rigueur du travail de danseuse avec Grace Wells-Smith du Dance Current. Les deux artistes étaient craintives de partager la nouvelle de leur grossesse avec leur employeur et soulagées des accommodements proposés. Elles ont toutefois trouvé difficile de dire non à de nouveaux contrats. Après son accouchement, Gladue, une danseuse de fancy shawl, hoop et jingle dress et une b-girl, a décrit les défis de la dépression postpartum. La danseuse contemporaine Peever a parlé de la pression qu’elle s’est mise pour se remettre en forme. Et les deux ont parlé d’une nouvelle confiance qu’elles ont trouvé à danser pendant la grossesse. 

Gladue / Photo by Russell Campbell


Reflections from a week learning and listening in Six Nations

By Ashley Bomberry

This April, Ashley Bomberry, Indigenous advisor to the Canadian Dance Assembly (CDA), organized a cultural competency training trip to Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario. Eleven members from national arts service and media organizations in Ontario were given the opportunity to join in learning about the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

What follows are excerpts from the journal entries we wrote during the trip – a trip dense with information, emotion and a willingness to learn. There was also discomfort. As one participant wrote, “The line between education and consumption is unclear.” What was clear was that we digested the information in ways that were personal and specific to the work we do in the arts sector.

Photo by Ian R. Maracle



By Emma Doran

What do we call ourselves and what do these labels tell us about ourselves? Back when I was training as a dancer, and in studio most of the day, I was hesitant to call myself a dancer. I didn’t feel worthy of the title. To me, dancers were professionals who worked full-time in a company and who could do at least a triple pirouette.

Over the years my thinking on this has completely reversed. I think that anyone who embodies movement – watching it, seeing it, feeling it – can own the title of dancer. If you think you’re a dancer, you’re a dancer. But I wanted to know how other artists have navigated this title.

In our special feature, we asked artists from across the country about if, when and why they call themselves dancers and how loaded the term can be. As dance artist Elizabeth Winkelaar articulates, “It can be great to challenge who belongs on the stage and whose body is seen as interesting or attractive.”

This issue’s report also addresses naming and identity. This April, I attended a Cultural Competency Training session in Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario, along with arts workers from three national arts service organizations. We kept journals throughout the process, and the report contains excerpts from this writing. In a section I wrote, I reflected on naming in relation to nationhood, asking, “What does it mean to talk about dance in Canada if many Indigenous peoples do not consider themselves Canadian?” I also question what it means when media resort to using the blanket term “Indigenous” to refer to one of hundreds of distinct nations across the country.

Our “In Conversation” feature discusses other labels and identities – what it means to be both a dancer and a mother before, during and after pregnancy. And finally, our profile features the founders of Tentacle Tribe, Emmanuelle Lê Phan and Elon Höglund, who talk about how their style originates from an awareness of the self.

As we enter an introspective winter season, I hope these features resonate with you. Thanks for reading! 



Moving toward confidence
By Francesca D'Amico

Caerina Abrenica

When Abrenica first began dancing, it was not as a bgirl, and she was not entirely sold on her ability to excel at it. Growing up as a Filipina-Canadian between Toronto and Vaughan, Abrenica was shy and quiet, and she suffered from debilitating social anxiety. She gravitated towards drawing because she could silently create while expressing herself. 

Abrenica at Red Bull Dance Your Style, Toronto, 2019 / Photo by Dale Tidy


Outlining opportunity
By Elise Tigges

Lola Rose Jenkins

Jenkins’ first modern class was with Meredith Thompson and, in her words, she “couldn’t have asked for a better first teacher.” That class sparked something for her, and since then, with inspiration coming from her teachers and friends, she has worked her way through the ranks at Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre (CCDT) and has now been a company member for four years.

Jenkins / Photo by Francesca Chudnoff

Check It Out

Dance in Literature and Scholarship

Four Canadian books published in 2019

Check out Between Worlds 4: What Friends Do by Lori Wolf-Heffner, Curating Live Arts edited by Dena Davida, Jane Gabriels, Véronique Hudon and Marc Pronovost, Dancing Spirit, Love, and War by Evadne Kelly, and Navigating Home: Artists of the NL Dance Project by Amy Bowring.

The List

Karolina Kuras

What inspires Karolina Kuras?

Karolina Kuras is a Toronto-based ballet photographer. She has worked with dancers, companies and publications around the world, including The National Ballet of Canada. Often pairing ballet with fashion, Kuras loves using a variety of locations and backdrops to complement her subjects and uses a mix of digital and traditional film cameras. Her love of and background in ballet gives her a strong understanding of the dancer’s technique and allows her to represent their art form accurately on film.

The Dance Current asked Kuras to share what influences her work. 

Kuras and Isabella Boylston / Photo courtesy of Kuras 


Getting the Part
By Kendra Guidolin

Ensuring safety at dance auditions

There are a lot of resources available to help dancers prepare for auditions but very few outlining the best practices for those holding the audition. This imbalance can reflect an unhealthy side of auditioning for commercial gigs – one that can compromise dancers’ health and safety if procedures are not put in place. 

Photo courtesy of Unsplash


Born Flexible
By Andrea Downie

Managing hypermobility

There’s no shortage of videos, articles, classes and devices that aim (and claim) to help dancers improve their flexibility. Advertising typically features dancers in extreme positions – dancers who probably didn’t need the featured protocols or devices to get into these positions. While being “born flexible” would seem a blessing, certain challenges face dancers who are naturally bendy.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash


Immersive, Wonderful World

As a tribute to the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, ProArteDanza celebrates its fifteenth anniversary season with The 9th!. Co-choreographed by Artistic Director Roberto Campanella and Artistic Associate Robert Glumbek, the work is set to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

The company is working with the Screen Industries Research and Training Centre to develop projections, with the goal of expanding the world created onstage. “There are so many new capabilities and technologies [available] to create an immersive, wonderful world that can be projected in a live performance,” says David Dexter, the director of the centre. 

Campanella confirmed that the projections will include a reproduction of the moment the Berlin Wall fell. As part of the process, Campanella hopped into a motion capture suit on what Dexter describes as a ‘basic virtual virtual stage’ at the centre. Dexter’s team was able to record a digital version of Campanella dancing, with the idea to digitally produce the look of crowds at the historical moment. “Sure, you could get tons of extras to do this,” says Campanella, “but wouldn’t it be great if there was no limit?” 

Kelly Shaw and Connor Mitton / Photo by Aleksandar Antonijevic

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