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I Am Pride

Five dance artists from Canada’s vast Queer communities
By Catherine Abes, Abeer Khan, KC Hoard, Max Gao, Dhriti Gupta

A series of profiles that highlight and celebrate the vastness of Queer communities across the country.

Read the full article here.

Curated by Ralph Escamillan, the founder of FakeKnot and Van Vogue Jam, these profiles are meant to show the power of dance today, and its past and present relationship with QTBIPOC communities, as Pride celebrations roll out across Canada.

“It was important for me to catalogue the vastness of Queer communities around the country, specifically featuring the work and activism of artists and allies,” Escamillan writes. “I hope the readers find these profiles as catalysts to learn more about people in their own communities and how to support them in the work they are doing.”

These pages feature five artists from these vast Queer communities across the country: N9ne Louboutin Margiela, Jessica McMann, Tia Ashley Kushniruk, Ross Wirtanen and Jossua Collin Dufour.

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Ralph Escamillan, fondateur de FakeKnot and Van Vogue Jam, a commissarié des profiles d’artiste. Alors que les célébrations de la fierté gaie se déroulent au pays, il souhaite illustrer le pouvoir de la danse et son inscription dans les communautés Queer et trans des personnes noires, autochtones et racisées. « Il m’était important de cataloguer la portée des communautés Queer au pays, en particulier le travail et l’activisme des artistes et allié·es », écrit Escamillan. « J’espère que les portraits serviront de catalyseur pour que les lecteur·rices en apprennent plus les artistes dans leur communauté et soutiennent leur travail. » Voici cinq artistes des nombreuses communautés Queer au pays : N9ne Louboutin Margiela, Jessica McMann, Tia Ashley Kushniruk, Ross Wirtanen et Jossua Collin Dufour.

Escamillan / Photo by Ben Owens

 

The Road Out

Since July 2019, a record number of people have left Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. With COVID-19 driving out more, do major cities need to play a role in a successful dance career?
By Candice Irwin

Candice Irwin explores the meaning of artistic success and its malleability.

Last October, Irwin and her husband moved to Manitoulin Island, from Toronto. After months of feeling uninspired, Irwin realized that it wasn’t just the business of being a professional dance artist that left her feeling drained but the city itself. And they weren’t the only ones. In January, Statistics Canada reported that from July 1st, 2019, to July 1st, 2020, a record 50,375 people left Toronto and 24,880 left Montreal for smaller cities or towns. Similar trends were also reported in Vancouver.

“For someone who has always identified as a ‘city girl,’ I never thought I’d be planting roots in a small community. Within the first weeks of moving though, I notice my creative drive returning,” Irwin writes. But she was wondering how she could be an artist outside of a big city, so she connected with artists from across Canada who are based in smaller communities. “What these eight artists showed me is that a fulfilling and successful arts career isn’t so much about where you are; it’s about how you choose to relate to your surroundings and how your environment can expand your definition of success.”

En octobre 2020, Candice Irwin et son mari ont déménagé de Toronto à Manitoulin Island. Après des mois en manque d’inspiration, Irwin s’est rendu compte que ce n’était pas seulement sa carrière de danseuse professionnelle qui l’épuisait ; c’était la ville même. Et elle n’était pas la seule à s’en rendre compte… En janvier, Statistiques Canada a rapporté qu’entre le 1 juillet 2019 et le 1 juillet 2020, un nombre record de personnes ont quitté Toronto (50,375) et Montréal (24,880) pour s’établir dans de plus petites municipalités. Une tendance semblable a aussi été rapportée à Vancouver. « Je me suis toujours identifiée comme urbaine et je n’imaginais pas que je m’installerais dans une petite communauté. Mais dès les premières semaines après le déménagement, je retrouvais ma motivation pour créer », observe Irwin. Elle se demandait comment être une artiste à l’extérieur d’une grande ville, alors elle a communiqué avec des artistes d’une part et d’autres du Canada établi·es à l’extérieur des grandes villes. « Ces artistes m’ont appris qu’une carrière en arts nourrissante ne tient pas tant à l’endroit où l’on vit, mais plutôt à comment l’on choisit d’être en relation à notre environnement, et à comment cela ouvre notre définition de la réussite. »

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

 

Dance Criticism: Perceptions, Challenges and the Future

Excerpts from our panel featuring dance artists Jera Wolfe and Nova Bhattacharya and critics Jenna Shummoogum and Deirdre Kelly
By Jera Wolfe, Nova Bhattacharya, Jenna Shummoogum, Deirdre Kelly, Timea Wharton-Suri

Part of a three-part series that rolled out across print, radio and online in collaboration with Turnout Radio, this conversation looks at the politics surrounding dance criticism and how it impacts dance artists, dance critics and audience members.

On April 15th, The Dance Current and Turn Out Radio presented the online panel discussion Dance Criticism: Perceptions, Challenges and the Future. The event was part of a three-part series that rolled out across print, radio and online. More than 100 people attended. The goal of the series was to unpack the politics surrounding dance criticism and how it impacts dance artists, dance critics and audience members. 

In our Spring 2021 issue (now online), you can read a conversation between four dance critics: Jillian Groening, Kaija Pepper, Philip Szporer and Joshua Chong. On April 14th, Turn Out Radio hosted talks with dance artists Lua Shayenne and Michael Caldwell (also online at turnoutradio.com), and on April 15th, Timea Wharton-Suri, the previous chair of Dance Media Group, facilitated the online panel. That discussion featured dance artists Jera Wolfe and Nova Bhattacharya and critics Jenna Shummoogum and Deirdre Kelly. Keep reading for excerpts from that conversation, rich with opinions and perspectives. 

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Le 15 avril, The Dance Current et Turn Out Radio ont présenté une table ronde sur la critique en danse, Dance Criticism: Perceptions, Challenges and the Future. L’évènement comptait parmi les trois volets d’une série déployée à l’écrit, sur la radio et en ligne, lu et entendu par plus de cent personnes. La série voulait comprendre la politique de la critique en danse et considérer son impact sur les artistes de danse, les critiques et le public. Dans notre édition du printemps 2021 (maintenant en ligne), vous pouvez lire une conversation entre quatre critiques : Jillian Groening, Kaija Pepper, Philip Szporer et Joshua Chong. Le 14 avril, Turn Out Radio a accueilli les artistes de danse Lua Shayenne et Michael Caldwell (en ligne à turnoutradio.com), et le 15 avril, Timea Wharton-Suri, ancienne présidente du Groupe Danse Média, a animé la table ronde virtuelle. Celle-ci rassemblait les artistes de danse Jera Wolfe et Nova Bhattacharya et les critiques Jenna Shummoogum et Deirdre Kelly. Voici des extraits de cette dernière conversation, riche en opinions et en perspectives.

Photos courtesy of contributors

Departments

Editorial

By Grace Wells-Smith

Yesterday, I saw the first in-person dance show I’ve seen in more than a year. 

I was working away in my home office when a party erupted outside. I live on a side street in a residential neighbourhood, so it’s fairly quiet most of the time, but not when there’s an 11-year-old’s birthday to celebrate. I looked outside and a large group of kids and adults were gathered on the street. Two golden balloons in the shape of 1s floated in the air, anchored to a wheelchair in which sat a kid in a purple leg cast. The weather was great – a breezy 23 degrees in late May. 

After 10 minutes or so, a dance troupe showed up with an enormous red boom box. There were five dancers, dressed in street clothes, and they were ready for a show. But before they could start, an angry passerby showed up. 

“I’m going to call the police! This is so irresponsible!” he yelled. He pulled out his phone and started recording, saying he was going to send the video to CP24. At the time, Toronto was still under stay-at-home orders. I took out my own phone and started relaying the drama to a group chat with my friends. 

“Omg Woaaahh!!! We are missing it?” my friend Krystin typed. I provided updates as the story unfolded: 

“The screaming guy hacked the dance troupe’s speaker and is playing Celine Dion. 

“Update: the dance troupe has taken BACK the speaker! 

“They threw whipped cream in his face!” 

It was shortly after this that my friend Guillermo typed: “This must be a written sketch. All the details are too good.” And he was right. The actor then fist-bumped a dancer, and one of the kids shouted, “I knew it was fake!” I don’t know if the parents had hired this fake angry person, or if it was the dance troupe, but I had a good laugh wondering if this was what we will replace clowns with. 

There has been a lot of talk about missing packed audiences – I do too – but there was something so heartwarming about this dance troupe 

performing for no more than 30 people to celebrate a kid (who had had some tough luck lately) on his birthday. I love that this ended up being the first in-person dancing I’ve seen in more than a year. One of the features in this issue, written by Candice Irwin, talks about these powerful performances for small audiences. In “The Road Out,” Irwin interviews eight dance artists who live and work in small communities. After moving to Manitoulin Island, Ont., (from Toronto) during the early months of the pandemic, she wondered how she could be an artist outside of a big city. What she discovered is that a successful arts career isn’t about a location; it’s about how your environment can expand your definition of success. This issue also includes a special feature. Instead of profiling one artist, we profiled five. Curated by Ralph Escamillan, the founder of FakeKnot and Van Vogue Jam, “I am Pride” (our cover story) features artists from among Canada’s vast Queer communities, as Pride celebrations happen across the country this summer. In the spotlight are N9ne Louboutin Margiela (pictured on the cover), Jessica McMann, Tia Ashley Kushniruk, Ross Wirtanen and Jossua Collin Dufour. Continue flipping to read about the moving work these artists are doing.

Wells-Smith / Photo by Jon Elliott

For the Kids

What Kind of World Do We Want?
By Robyn Grant-Moran

Red Sky Performance’s Mistatim, in collaboration with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, is a story of reconciliation for kids.

The beloved children’s production Mistatim by Red Sky Performance is getting a digital reinvention, scheduled to launch September 30. Forgrounding history, identity and leadership, the show aims to reflect Indigeneity back to its audience, encouraging kids to think about the kind of world that they want.

Photo by David Hou

Check It Out

Toronto Arts Council’s Black Arts Granting Program
By Anne Dion

The new program, which will fund individuals, collectives and organizations, launches this summer.

The initiative aims to support Black artists and arts workers in creating and presenting new work, recognizing the systemic barriers that many face. As of this May, $500,000 has been approved for distribution.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Research Spotlight

Checking In With the Mental Health of Performing Artists

Findings from three surveys highlight the decline in artists’ mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full article here. 

A little more than a year into the pandemic that closed down performance venues, various organizations are looking into the mental health and well-being of the nation’s artists. Unsurprisingly, we’re not scoring high. But with vaccination efforts well underway, things may (hopefully) be looking up.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Short Stories

The Career Chronicles Part 2
By Emily Pettet

Dance artists find unique ways to boost their income.

Read the full article here.

Continuing from the Spring 2021 issue, “The Career Chronicles” features dance artistswho vigorously pursue parallel careers and delves into how their multi-faceted livesbreed inspiration. In this installment, read about Angel Spendlove (stage name Angel Wong), Gemma Crowe and Mithila Ballal. 

Crowe / Photo by Michelle Moore Media

Body

Soften Up
By Dr. Blessyl Buan

Self-massage to combat a hypervigilant nervous system, caused by the chronic fear of catching COVID-19.

Self-massaging with props is a way to reconnect your mind to your body. These self-care rituals can release muscular tension resulting from stress and improve joint mobility.

Photo by Stewart Maclean, courtesy of Unsplash

Sponsored Content

Neighbourhood Dance Works Turns 40

The company has become Newfoundland and Labrador’s primary source of professional contemporary dance.

As Newfoundland and Labrador’s primary source of professional contemporary dance, Neighbourhood Dance Works and the Festival of New Dance (an annual festival produced by the company) have been key facilitators in the exchange of skills and knowledge between local, national and international communities.

Candice Pike in Lois Brown’s Alice Falling / Photo by Tom Cochrane

Sponsored Content

Dance Collection Danse Hall of Fame

The third annual induction ceremony will be available online.

On Sept. 19, Dance Collection Danse will present its third annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony, honouring a diverse group of dance artists from across Canada. 

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Tips

The Winding Staircase to a Safer Place
By Giulia Tripoli

Learning to make a studio safer is like learning new choreography: one step at a time.

Tripoli looks at the dance industry from the perspectives of the student, the teacher and the studio director in order to assess the needs of each. 

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

First Person

Into a Malleable Flame
By Jérema Hewitt

I started flamenco classes when I was 28, but my experience quickly soured. It wasn’t until I found Esmeralda Enrique’s academy that the spark within me fully ignited

At three years old, I began having a recurring vision. I vividly saw myself dancing in a big red dress with dust from unpaved roads spiralling up around a male figure sitting, playing guitar on a cajon. Only ever a three-second vision, it was powerful enough to remain a sacred fire in my soul. When I was 28, my vision started to grow dancing feet.

Painting by Anne Dion

Poetry

The Reciting Body
By Emma Morris

I stand on my knees

tripping over vocal chords

wringing out bones

gifting the smell of lavender

defining my oath by 

how I hand

my hands

to your hands

that grasp

with the sophistication

of a newborn

holding onto

someone else’s

trust

at the mercy of

swallowing words

that describe 

how I lost

pouring salt onto

truth 

bending guts into

the frayed edges

of a rope,

hold on

to the familiar ghost 

that remembers 

the taste

of honey

that forgets

how to wait

for the water 

to dissolve

when you

dissolve 

like a liar

and my body

a lilac field,

still moving,

holds on.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

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