Thursday, 26 November 2015

What's Indiegogo? Why Expand the Park Series? ALL of your FAQs Answered!

Last week, Guelph Dance launched an Indiegogo campaign to help expand the wildly popular In the Park series. You might be thinking, 'What does that mean? Why do they need money to put this on? What is happening to the other Park shows?'' Look no further: All of the answers are here.

Guelph Dance needs to raise $4,000 to add a fourth In the Park show in a new location somewhere in the City of Guelph. This will not affect the three regularly scheduled shows at Exhibition Park on Thursday June 2 at 7pm, Saturday June 4 at 12pm, and Sunday June 5 at 12pm. We simply want to spread the joy of contemporary dance and make it more accessible to other neighbourhoods in our beautiful city.

Check out the terrific photos below taken by community members showing their love for our 2015 In the Park shows. Wouldn't it be great to have more of this? Support with $10 now if you agree!

$4,000 may seem like a lot of money, but that’s what it takes to put on one of these shows, with artist fees and technical support being the biggest costs. And when you break it down, $4,000 is only 400 x 10, so that is what we’re asking: for 400 people to each give $10. Contemporary dance doesn’t have to be on a stage, and it doesn’t have to have a high ticket price. We can bring it right to your backyard, on a pay-what-you-can basis!

It's so nice to have an army of supporters behind us, like this army of campers we had In the Park in 2013. Show your support with $10 now!

If you’re new to Indiegogo, have no fear, it's really easy to use! Indiegogo is a well-known crowdfunding website that makes it easy for organizations like us to raise money quickly. Just go to our campaign page, check out our campaign video, enjoy the warm and fuzzy feelings that you get from reminiscing about our In the Park shows, and then click “Contribute Now”. On the next page, enter the amount you wish to give. We recommend $10, but are happy to receive more! Rest assured, you can trust this secure site.

A fan favourite, the Park shows bring beautiful dance works to unique places. Below, photo of Ritmo Flamenco by Randy Sutherland.

Crowdfunding only really works when people share the campaign with people they know who care about the cause. So after you make your generous contribution, please post our Indiegogo page on your Facebook page, tweet about it, and email it to your friends! Together, we can bring more dance to more people in more places! Please give today!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

IMPACT! How Board Members and Volunteers Make A Difference

Lynda Murray, during a donor campaign
Every not-for-profit arts organization relies on the service of a dedicated Board of Directors to contribute expertise to the organization and to make a difference in how the organization operates. Since its inception, Guelph Dance has been fortunate to have some amazing and passionate people as Board members, who have definitely made an impact! The main responsibility of the Board is overall governance of the organization, ultimately overseeing the healthy administration of Guelph Dance. While they serve in a voluntary capacity, they are rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing they are bringing fabulous contemporary dance to our community. Sure, they have to sit in on a few meetings, but they are also among the first to know about Guelph Dance’s Festival artists and new initiatives. They provide ideas, advice, feedback, and guidance in all areas of the organization.

Neal Kennard
Recently, there have been some major changes in our Board. First of all, we are sorry to see two excellent members, Lynda Murray and Neal Kennard, move on after making substantial contributions to Guelph Dance. Lynda was a key part of our rebranding initiative and was then asked to serve on the Board. She has willingly shared her knowledge during her time as a board member and given sage advice to our marketing efforts. Neal brought his expertise to our fundraising efforts, establishing guidelines and principles which we are continuing to move forward upon. I know I express the feelings of everyone connected with Guelph Dance in thanking Lynda and Neal for their extensive contributions to Guelph Dance.

Fortunately, two new members have stepped forward. Well not exactly new. Former president, Kim Bolton returns to the board and Lindsay Morris, former office manager, comes onto our board for the first time. Both individuals, with long commitments to Guelph Dance, bring a wealth of impetus and expertise to board. On behalf of the other members of the board, I welcome Kim and Lindsay. They will be important additions to our hard working group.

Another way for people to impact the direction of Guelph Dance is to serve as a volunteer on one of our committees: Artistic, Marketing, and Fundraising.  All three committees contribute valuable ideas and energy to the organization, helping us to thrive in all aspects of our work. Read about each committee below, and if you’re interested in joining one, contact us at The only requirements: you have a passion for dance, you're invested in the success of Guelph Dance, and you're a current member of our organization.

  • The Marketing Committee supports the promotion of all of Guelph Dance’s activities. Its goal is to develop yearly marketing campaigns that best communicate the organization’s performances, camps, workshops, and fundraising events. It advises on print media, online presence, promotional offers, and on the cultivation of patrons.
  • The Fundraising Committee takes on a leadership role in planning and coordinating revenue-generating strategies, from donation campaigns to special events. The Committee extends the reach of the organization beyond its existing networks to help cultivate support within the community.

  • The Artistic Committee believes in, and supports, the work of the Artistic Directors of Guelph Dance.  The Artistic Committee advises the Artistic Directors and ensures that Guelph Dance is meeting or exceeding its mandate, mission, and vision. Committee members support through brainstorming, event organization, and goal setting, but they do not serve as curators.
By volunteering on one of our committees, you can help make the 2015-16 Guelph Dance season the best ever! You can make an impact!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Sponsors Unleash Their Imaginations and Stretch Their Boundaries too!

While we are still buzzing from the Festival weekend, we want to pause for a moment and thank all of our supporters for their time, energy, and generous financial contributions. We simply could not have pulled off such an inspiring 17th annual Festival without the support of our amazing community!

Our generous funders, sponsors, and donors all played an important role in bringing such stimulating and thought-provoking works to the parks, studios, and stages of Guelph! We are truly grateful.
We would like to extend special thanks to Brenda Reid-Gibson and the rest of the team at 1460 CJOY AM and 106.1 Magic FM for three years' worth of in-kind support. You probably heard ads for our Arts Explosion March Break Camps and the June 4-7 Festival while you were stuck on the 401 or waiting in line at the grocery store. These stations have been helping us reach you in your homes and workplaces by recording and playing our ads. We're certain that our record audience numbers in the Park are in part because of the exposure they give us in our community!

A shout out also goes to Guelph Tribune for featuring our supporters in a beautiful full page ad on page 42 of their Thursday June 11 edition!

We encourage you to support our supporters, many of which are local businesses with very big hearts! If your business is interested in becoming a Sponsor, or if you would like to support us personally, please read up on all the ways to Support Dance!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Unleash Your Imagination with Jody Oberfelder Projects

We want you to have the inside scoop, so in the weeks leading up to the 2015 Guelph Dance Festival, the artists will take you behind the scenes and you will hear from the Co-Artistic Directors about their creative vision. You can stretch your boundaries and unleash your imaginations before the Festival even starts! So go ahead, follow your instincts and read on...

This week on the blog, NYC-based choreographer and dancer Jody Oberfelder shares the story of how her piece for the Festival has evolved. You do not want to miss this unique experience as part of Stage B. Get your tickets for the performance on Saturday June 6 at 8pm through the River Run Centre Box Office!

What does dance have to do with the mind? The brain is everywhere in the body. Tracking, encoding, perceiving, the dance of neurons is happening all the time. 

I first met Catrina von Radecki and Lynette Segal in a Skinner Release based workshop taught by Stephanie Skura in NYC. It was the week after my piece about the heart, 4Chambers, had closed following 86 performances. It felt so good to move, go to a blank page, and begin again both physically and mentally. I talked afterwards to our Canadian guests about the nature of our performance installation. Small audiences were lead through four rooms, having different experiences of their hearts through different modalities: visual, tactile, physical and psychological.  It ended with a pulsing room: dancers dynamically rushing at the foam, and red curtained covered walls. I didn’t realize that Catrina was the producer of a festival. She was intrigued with the nature of this piece and sought to bring it to Guelph. We found a great space, but unfortunately it was not fully accessible. When asked “Do you have another piece you could do?” I said, “Yes”, quite heartily, as I was deep into the next process.

My research on the heart led to the brain.
Film still from "Dance of the Neurons".
In June 2014, I began to host brainstorming sessions/salons in my living room, with neuroscientists. They seemed just as game as I was to dialogue and envision an art piece culled from our discussions. I continued to research, and dive into scientific text. There were so many entry points. Finally, in early fall, I had to start somewhere. The first “rehearsal” was sifting through index cards. Mary suggested, “Why don’t we stand up and move?” Initiating this process: a chance to drop the brain down and see a bodily interpretation of the brain, the mind, proved the immediacy of your body at your fingertips, so to speak: the instantaneous connection of the physical with the cerebral.

Continuing back and forth conversations, we’d Skype into our rehearsals neuroscientists Dr. Weiji Ma, Dr. Gary Marcus, or Ed Lein (from the Allan Institute), who’d view and offer suggestions. They were also our fact checkers. Having non-dancers contribute in such an important way changed my own process. The ‘material’ of this study – of the mind – rising up and ‘materializing’ while choreographing has been a bountiful and imaginative process.
Jody Oberfelder Project dancers in rehearsal at Dancetheatre David Earle.
I call The Brain Piece a “choreographed experience”. Thinking of experiment and experience as similar, our end result being not data, but living breathing present artifacts of discovery, it is my goal to engage audiences in such a way so that they notice their own brain activity. People who come will translate and connect with their own brains and bodies.

Jody Oberfelder Projects is currently in the studio creating new material with three Canadian dancers – Lacey Smith, Robert Kingsbury, and Lynette Segal – augmenting our NY cast – Ben Follensbee, Mary Madsen, and Madeline Wilcox.  A New Music USA grant enhanced collaborations with composers Daniel Wohl, Sean Hagerty and Angelica Negron. Set is by Ioannis Oikonomou, and film is co-directed by Eric Siegel.
Local and international dancers together at last! The cast of the Brain Piece after their first full rehearsal.
Want a quick preview? Here’s a clip of a film segment that kicks off the showTickets for Stage B, featuring Jody Iberfelder Projects, can be purchased now through the River Run Centre Box Office. Interested in several shows? Purchase a Theatre Pass (3 shows) or Stage Pass (2 shows) and save up to 15%!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Stretch Your Boundaries with Julia Garlisi

We want you to have the inside scoop, so in the weeks leading up to the 2015 Guelph Dance Festival, the artists will take you behind the scenes and you will hear from the Co-Artistic Directors about their creative vision. You can stretch your boundaries and unleash your imaginations before the Festival even starts! So go ahead, follow your instincts and read on...

This week on the blog, local dancer and choreographer Julia Garlisi shares a few words about her artistic process in creating the piece she will perform at Stage A. Get your tickets for the performance on Friday June 5 at 8pm through the River Run Centre Box Office!

I would love to extend my deepest gratitude to the Guelph Dance Festival for programming my work on Stage A this year. The Festival has played a significant role in my career as a performer and creator. I appreciate the years of support and growing opportunities. It feels so exhilarating to be amongst such talented and inspirational dance artists during the Festival. This truly will be an experience that I will treasure for a lifetime.
Photo of Julia Garlisi by John Lauener.
David Earle gave me a CD about four years ago that contained the music for my piece. Instantly, I was captivated by the title of the music “Piece from the Year 1981” because that is the year I was born. When I listened to the music it was haunting, intense, and a little too big for me at that time. I loved it but I couldn’t do anything with it. I knew at some point I would attempt to create something with it, but it just wasn’t the right time for me. I listened to the music occasionally and then put it in my music library for future use.

I had a couple of weeks off this past August. My goal was to use the time wisely and create a piece or at least plan a potential project. Music is always my inspiration to create movement so l began to look through my music library. It had been well over a year since I listened to “Piece from the Year 1981”. I played the song, sat in my chair, and let my mind wander. What I heard somehow sounded so different from what I remembered. The music hit me and came to life in a whole new way. I could feel and see what I wanted to create with this piece. From that moment I knew that this is what I needed to work on. With absolutely zero expectations, zero judgments, and zero pressure I gave myself three weeks to “play” and create. In three days my piece was composed. It came out of me quite magically and effortlessly. Since then I have refined and readjusted certain moments but the structure has remained the same.
Photo of Julia Garlisi by Jennifer Scime.
The title of the music was influential in the creative process of this piece. It inspired the work and movement phrases. I decided that it had to be the title for my piece as well. I only changed out one word to make it more personal for my narrative. “Piece for the Year 1981” became my own intimate journey to authenticity.

Tickets for Stage A, featuring Julia Garlisi, can be purchased now through the River Run Centre Box Office. Interested in several shows? Purchase a Theatre Pass (3 shows) or Stage Pass (2 shows) and save up to 15%! Let's make sure these incredible artists have a full house!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Unleash Your Imagination with Toy Guns Dance Theatre

We want you to have the inside scoop, so in the weeks leading up to the 2015 Guelph Dance Festival, the artists will take you behind the scenes and you will hear from the Co-Artistic Directors about their creative vision. You can stretch your boundaries and unleash your imaginations before the Festival even starts! So go ahead, follow your instincts and read on...

This week on the blog, we hear from key members of Toy Guns Dance Theatre, who will be surprising and delighting you in the three Park performances at this year's Festival. Coming all the way from Edmonton, they are a special treat you won't want to miss! 

Toy Guns Dance Theatre was founded by an engineer, a business student, and an artist. But since no one but engineers likes to talk to engineers, here are words from the other two.

Don't they look like they're having so much fun? You will too! See Toy Guns perform this piece June 4, 6 and 7! Photo by Marc J Chalifoux.

From the mouth/fingers of Jake W Hastey (Artistic Director):
I would love to talk about our show, as it is dear to my heart or more accurately my broken and beaten heart circa 2009. Of course the show has transformed from the moment of inspiration, not in the least because of the amazing team that will be performing it. Toy Guns Dance Theatre consists of a company with extensive backgrounds in various forms of dance, theatre, music, and even engineering. Each cast member brings something unique to the table that ultimately informs each of our works. This collaboration is instrumental in creating the multilayered and evolving work that we are fortunate to be touring across Canada this year. We are so excited to be presented by Guelph Dance Festival and can’t wait to see you in June!
You must've seen this dancer before - she leaped right onto our Festival poster! Photo by Marc J Chalifoux.

From the styled coif of Richelle Thoreson (Executive Director/Dancer):
After one performance of “Bright Lights...” an audience member said that they laughed, they cried, they killed a mosquito, and then they laughed some more. The show is audience interactive in addition to featuring beautifully performed choreographed sequences. The Edmonton Examiner wrote, “From raucous laughter to gentle tears, Bright Lights Cold Water serves as a demonstration of the power of choreography for illustrating concepts and emotions that words simply cannot express. It was an emotional experience for the entire cast”. I am so thrilled to perform this summer in Guelph and have a chance to see all the amazing artists performing at the Guelph Dance Festival!

Want a quick preview? Here’s a time lapse video of the show’s premier in Government House Park in Edmonton, AB! 
The Park series, featuring Toy Guns Dance Theatre, is pay-what-you-can, suggested donation of $15. Don't carry cash? Pay online ahead of time!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Stretch Your Boundaries with Janet Johnson

We want you to have the inside scoop, so in the weeks leading up to the 2015 Guelph Dance Festival, the artists will take you behind the scenes and you will hear from the Co-Artistic Directors about their creative vision. You can stretch your boundaries and unleash your imaginations before the Festival even starts! So go ahead, follow your instincts and read on...

This week on the blog, we hear from Janet Johnson of Portal Dance Project, who is remounting a favourite piece to be featured at our Festival Kickoff and In the Studio offering. Get your tickets for the 4pm or 7pm performance on Saturday May 23 through our website! Entrance to this event is free to Festival pass holders, and tickets include the drinks and snacks provided at the reception. 

Janet: First off I want to deeply thank the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival for approaching me to bring back my piece, The Hands of the Beautiful Swimmers, for both the Guelph Dance Festival as well as the EMWF this September. It was a lovely surprise to be asked to remount the work created 16 years ago when I was in a different space, place, and time: in 1999, The Hands of the Beautiful Swimmers was performed in Toronto as part of DanceWorks at the Enwave Theatre, as well as part of Peterborough New Dance and in Guelph. This remount also gives me an opportunity to finally have the exquisite poet, Steven Heighton, come to Guelph to deliver his poetry live.

So hand in hand with dance comrades Kelly Steadman and Julia Garlisi, both of whom I greatly appreciate and admire, we jumped in on this journey to remount this piece, for which I only had vhs and cassette recordings. I knew how it felt but not how to get back to that place 16 years later. 16 years was a lifetime ago...I had just given birth to my second baby, Kieran and like when I had had my first baby, Dakota, I felt a huge surge of creativity and a strong need to delve into a creative process. 16 years ago I had just left my dance partnership with Denise Duric and our shared company, Pedestrian Waltz Dance Project and had recently moved from Toronto to the Guelph area. With The Hands of the Beautiful Swimmers (originally called Surrender), I was finding my choreographic footing, working out of my new community, and melding my two favourite art forms: dance and writing. How to start this journey, how to find a re-entry point? 

Photos of pieces by and with Janet Johnson, from bottom left: The Chrysalis Project, Lynette Segal's Spontaneous Order, David Earle's Ray Charles Suite, and This Side of Light.
I decided to ask my dance partner of many, many years, who has seen me through thick and thin and watched me weather many dance challenges, to help me unveil the work. Catrina von Radecki, improvisation teacher extraodinaire and one of the ORIGINAL The Hands of the Beautiful Swimmers dancers, lead us through an absolutely riveting, intense, and shockingly truthful journey into the heart of the piece with great clarity and poignancy. In that hour-long improvisation, time as we commonly know it altered and the selves that we exist in regularly slipped away, revealing the beauty, heartache, and wonder of the work. I think we all, mouth agape, spent hours afterwards trying to digest this great manner of stepping into the work, being part of a story that was waiting for us. I am immensely grateful for Catrina’s key, the dancers’ ripe enthusiasm and this opportunity to move back into The Hands of the Beautiful Swimmers.

Tickets for the Festival Kickoff/In the Studio event are very limited! Get them ahead of time through our website to avoid disappointment at the door!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Unleash Your Imagination with Tony Chong

We want you to have the inside scoop, so in the weeks leading up to the 2015 Guelph Dance Festival, the artists will take you behind the scenes and you will hear from the Co-Artistic Directors about their creative vision. You can stretch your boundaries and unleash your imaginations before the Festival even starts! So go ahead, follow your instincts and read on...

This week on the blog, we hear from Tony Chong, who is part of the star-studded line-up for Stage A. Get your tickets for the performance on Friday June 5 at 8pm through the River Run Centre Box Office!

TonyLa Belle au bois dormant and Le Petit Chaperon are stirring in the forest, so it must be spring once again. Lucie Vigneault, Mark Eden-Towle, and myself, along with our enchanting rehearsal director Ami Shulman, are awakening the female beast in this shortened version of Désillusions de l’enchantement (sans Neige Bleue with the amazing Carol Prieur). The world of fairy tales is not always what we think within our modern age of instantaneous satisfaction of Facebook, Instagram, and Tinder. The stories of naïve, innocent young women and gallant princes are to be re-evaluated and questioned, revealing less virtuous truths and underlying desires.  
Photo of Lucie Vigneault by Tony Chong.
We are in the studio finding ourselves weaving in this brew of thick succulent sexual tension so it will be ready for this hot sticky summer. We are immersing ourselves physically and emotionally to dance the layers of psychological taboos that reveal a suppressed societal truth of ourselves. With this gang of incredible talent in the room, we are having a great time challenging the readings of classic children’s fairy tales. We can’t wait to present this trio and duo to you all on June 5, 2015 in Guelph!

Tickets for Stage A, featuring Tony Chong, can be purchased now through the River Run Centre Box Office. Interested in several shows? Purchase a Theatre Pass (3 shows) or Stage Pass (2 shows) and save up to 15%!

Friday, 24 April 2015

Stretch Your Boundaries with Helen Simard & Margie Gillis

We want you to have the inside scoop, so in the weeks leading up to the 2015 Guelph Dance Festival, the artists will take you behind the scenes and you will hear from the Co-Artistic Directors about their creative vision. You can stretch your boundaries and unleash your imaginations before the Festival even starts! So go ahead, follow your instincts and read on...

This week on the blog, we hear from Helen Simard, who will be performing a piece based on an interview with Margie Gillis, as well as Co-Artistic Director Catrina von Radecki about the curation of the Festival to include Helen Simard in the Park series and Margie Gillis on Stage A.

Why are the arts important to us? Why should we publicly fund the arts?

Helen Simard’s piece On the Subject of Compassion, which will be performed in the Park series, is a response to a contentious Sun News interview by Krista Erikson wherein Margie Gillis was barraged with questions about the value of the arts and importance of public funding of the arts. We feel privileged to have both artists in the Festival this year and hope that their work will speak to the value of the arts in our community.

Margie Gillis is a national treasure and has been widely recognized in Canada for her artistic and diplomatic efforts. Gillis was distinguished as a Member of the Order of Canada in 1987, a Knight of the National Order of Quebec in 2009 and named a laureate of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards for Lifetime Artistic Achievement. Her work is highly emotional and full of beauty and grace. We are truly lucky to have her here in our community and to have the opportunity to see her work in Stage A, to hear her speak in the talkback session, and to take part in her workshops.

Every time I have seen Simard’s On the Subject of Compassion I have been brought to tears. The arts are important. We need compassion in our society. Everyone in our society needs to be valued and supported, to be allowed to stretch their boundaries, to unleash their imagination, and to follow their instincts.

Guelph Dance is honoured to have the opportunity to present Simard, Gillis and all of the talented and provocative artists that will make up this year’s Festival. We could not do so without both private and public support. This is why it is important for us to lobby the government in support of the arts. It is important to collect statistics and understand how the arts can be an economic generator. Perhaps most importantly, we must engage with the arts and be open to creating a dialogue containing diverse opinions and perspectives. This way we can increase our compassion.

Helen: I was 8 the first time I saw Margie Gillis perform. It was the first modern dance show I ever went to, and one of the experiences that fostered my interest in becoming a dance artist. I was mesmerized by Margie’s long hair, flowing costumes, unearthly presence. My mother convinced the theatre to give me one of the promotional posters after the show. That poster stayed on my bedroom wall for almost ten years. In fact, it's probably still somewhere in my storage room...

Fast forward about 25 years. In June 2011, I had a 3-week residency and performance opportunity at Bain St-Michel, an abandoned art deco swimming pool in Montreal that regularly hosted theatre and dance shows. The first day I came into the space to work just happened to be the day the now defunct Sun News television station interviewed Margie Gillis about government funding to the arts. I came into the studio enraged, frustrated, but more than anything, feeling lost. It was in this emotional state that On the Subject of Compassion was created spontaneously, intuitively, without very much filtering. At the time, it was my attempt to respond to what I saw as an attack not only on the arts, but on vulnerability, generosity, and compassion. It was my attempt to make sense of my place in a world where we are afraid to open ourselves to other ways of thinking, being, or doing.
Photos of Helen Simard by Celia Spenard-Ko.
So what does it mean to me to present this piece in the same festival as Margie Gillis this summer, with her in the audience watching? Well the short answer is that I CAN'T BELIEVE IT AND I AM SO EXCITED THAT I AM JUMPING UP AND DOWN AS WE SPEAK! I honestly am so honoured that I will have the opportunity to share my work with her and with all the other spectators who will present. Performing in the Park series will allow me to explore the work in a new space, with new audiences, hopefully allowing us to open new dialogues on the vital importance of dance and art in our society. 

Oh, and I might just have to dig that poster out of my storage room, and see if Margie is willing to autograph it for me! :)

Tickets for Stage A, featuring Margie Gillis, can be purchased now through the River Run Centre Box Office. The Park series, featuring Helen Simard, is pay-what-you-can, suggested donation of $15. Don't carry cash? Pay online ahead of time!

Friday, 17 April 2015

Unleash Your Imagination with Katie Ewald

We want you to have the inside scoop, so in the weeks leading up to the 2015 Guelph Dance Festival, the artists will take you behind the scenes and you will hear from the Co-Artistic Directors about their creative vision. You can stretch your boundaries and unleash your imaginations before the Festival even starts! So go ahead, follow your instincts and read on...

This week on the blog, we hear from Katie Ewald, who is curating a component of On the Stage B entitled ReCalibrate. All of the artists involved in this collection can't wait to share their work with you! Get your tickets for the performance on Saturday June 6 at 8pm through the River Run Centre Box Office!

"How can we make the audience a partner in adventure instead of a consumer?" - Frie Leysen

Katie: I never thought I would curate anything, let alone curate a dance show with sixteen choreographers. But recently, I did just that. And I learned something: I've been a professional dancer for almost fifteen years, but I was somehow surprised to discover that I had developed a secret skill along the way. I know how to give performers what they need so that they can do what they're good at: perform. 

So what do dance artists need? They need space. And trust. And a clean floor. And support in doing what they want to do. And if you can gather a bunch of people to witness the event, well that is just about perfect.  

Recently, I’ve been thinking about how much being an artist has changed in my short career. In her closing keynote address at the 2015 Australian Theatre Forum, Belgian festival director and curator Frie Leysen said “We urgently have to reconsider the role of theatres and festivals, as instruments to facilitate and valorise artists again. And we need more flexible structures, production houses that can work tailor-made with artists.” I’ve been thinking about how artists are often put in the role of having to please others in order to be granted space, money and time to make their art, and how this can undermine the very impulses that make us artists. I want to help facilitate and valorise the artist. I believe we need art in the world that is encouraged to fulfil the vision not of the powers that be, but of the artists themselves.  

Through the Local Initiatives project, Guelph Dance has given me this support and time. With ReCalibrate, I am now able to turn around and offer this support to artists who are, for the most part, local. I am continually impressed and encouraged by Guelph Dance and their trust in local talent. I am honoured to work with them again.

The ReCalibrate artists are Jasmin McGraw, Simon Portigal, Janet Morton, and Lynette Segal, I have asked them to re-imagine and re-construct a recent work that they have performed, and adapt it to the context of Stage B on June 6 at the Co-operators Hall in the River Run Centre.  

I will be working with these four amazing people to see what they can do with the initial work that they presented for Short&Sweet: Guelph Edition at Kazoo! Fest, to expand it for a different situation. They are talented and distinctive artists with different experiences and methods of engaging with performance.

What connects all of the works is their strong conceptual basis, and the fact that none of the pieces used ‘music,’ but rather sound design or text. I want to offer the audience a journey into these three distinct worlds, to entrust with them the demands of being present to art. 

I can’t wait to see what the artists come up with. I know it will be compelling.

L to R: Jasmin McGraw, Lynette Segal with Janet Morton, and Simon Portigal, performing at Kazoo! Fest. Photos by Jacklyn Barber.
Jasmin: Last Friday night at Silence, the concrete space was jam-packed, with barely any room to move. The space was a blank raw canvas and the night was produced in such a way the dancers felt an incredible amount of respect and support. Not an easy feat, so much trust. It was the first time in a while where I danced and felt supported enough to create from a place deep within myself and express it without prejudice.

Without the clean professional production feel, the edges of the performance space were not so defined.  The dance pieces bled right into the room. Not with the intention to bring dance down to meet the public, but instead to be so close that the spectators were a part of the experience and had no choice but to let it over-ride their intellect and hit them in the gut. 

The new challenge is: How to Re-Calibrate this experience to a formal stage?  I don’t believe that it can be the same animal but it does pose an interesting question. Is there a way to have the audience be actively connected to the work on stage without having them standing right next to you? And can I be true to the message of the night? This is the challenge.

Lynette: I am honoured and thrilled to have embarked upon a collaborative artistic relationship with the remarkably talented and wise Janet Morton. We have created a forum to bring our art practices and dialogue together, as we go forth as female artists in our middle passage. Although Janet has had an interest in the ravelling and unravelling of things in her art for a long time, this will be our second shared iteration of this concept.

Let's make sure these incredible artists have a full house! Get your tickets now: seats are assigned and prices go up May 31.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Unveiling the 2015 Guelph Dance Festival

We are very excited to announce the line-up for the 17th annual Guelph Dance Festival which will take place all over downtown Guelph from Thursday June 4 to Sunday June 7. We are hoping you will stretch your boundaries and unleash your imaginations with us this year. After taking in all of the beautiful photos and moving piece descriptions available at, we encourage you to follow your instincts and map out your Festival weekend early!
The complete 2015 Guelph Dance Festival line-up.
We are thrilled to bring artists from across the country while also supporting our growing local dance community. This year we are hosting Margie Gillis (Montreal), who is celebrating her 40th anniversary as an internationally-renowned and deeply personal soloist. Jody Oberfelder (New York) is also a very special treat as she will be combining the talents of 3 of her company dancers with that of 3 of our local dancers in a week-long residency, culminating in a one-night-only performance. We are equally proud to present local artists Julia Garlisi and Katie Ewald as choreographers, dancers, and even curators in the Stage series of this year's Festival!

As always, we aim to balance the 
virtuosic, sensual, and highly emotional with the quirky and unexpected. The four companies performing in our popular Park series will make you laugh, cry, and dance in your seats! Programming is suitable for all ages, so bring your families for a walk in the park. Youth Moves, where dancers under the age of 19 take the stage by storm, makes for the sweetest possible ending to the Festival weekend!
You'll be seeing this poster by LINDdesign all around town soon!
Don't let the professionals have all of the fun! If this incredible line-up has got you inspired, take note of the five opportunities you'll have to get up and dance with us! Public workshops, designed for all levels (ages 14+), allow Festival artists to share their styles with you. On Saturday June 6, Margie Gillis will help you "dance from the inside out", and on Sunday June 7, Tentacle Tribe will expand your vocabulary to include "conceptual hip hop". New this year, we're giving you two chances to sample the variety of movement forms offered in our great city! Join us in Exhibition Park before and after the Saturday and Sunday Park performances for our 3rd annual Dance Market. And last but not least, linger after the Stage B performance on Saturday June 6 for an After Party, free to the public, hosted by Guelph's own King Neptune & His Tridents, courtesy of Hillside Festival. We can't wait to share the dance floor with you!

Purchase tickets early to avoid disappointment! Tickets for all performances at River Run Centre can be purchased through their box office. All other events are pay-what-you-can or can be reserved through our website.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Meet Our Team of March Break Camp Instructors

Our Arts Explosion March Break and Summer Camps are a fun-filled, pressure-free exploration of the arts. Renowned local and national artists encourage children from 4-13 in all art forms. This March Break Camp is perfect for the child who loves to create: they'll sing in a glee club, dance up a storm, make art, and get theatrical! Book with the River Run Centre now to have them join this fabulous roster of local artists from March 16-20, 2015! New this year, we are also offering full-day camp for the Orange Group (born 2009-2010) and an extra hour of post-camp care, perfect for busy parents! Read our last camp blog for more details.

On today's blog, our teachers tell us why they are excited to work with your kids and what you can expect from their workshops!
Music instructors Carey West (L) and Shannon Kingsbury (R) performing at our 2014 In the Park series. Photo by Pulse Photography.
Local songstress Shannon Kingsbury returns to our camp for music and stories with the Orange group. "Having had the pleasure of teaching with Arts Explosion for many years, I greatly look forward to being part of the excitement and energy that is co-created by the enthusiastic campers, youth volunteers and arts educators. It is especially a delight to witness first time campers sprout their creative wings. 

Young campers will love using their voices, bodies, small instruments, and props in creative music play. Each music session will conclude with a traditional song story, providing a comforting interval of calm in the campers' active day."

Having worked as a music specialist in elementary schools over the last decade and performing with bands from all genres, Carey West was a great addition to our camps in the summer! She will be instructing the Red and Blue Groups (campers born 2002-2008). "
I’m excited to facilitate music and movement at this year’s March Break Camp because I had such a fantastic time working with Arts Explosion last summer! The kids were all so comfortable moving and singing. I saw a lot of musicality in their dance as well as in their voices. They were all so expressive! This camp hits the sweet spot between hard work and straight up fun. The result is a week of good times and great art.

In the music component we start with language, and add movement. These two elements serve as an anchor to help kids layer sounds and create songs. Campers can expect to use their whole body as an instrument, and play their unique part in order to create a larger whole."
Lynette Segal joins us for Creative Movement with the Orange and Red Groups. Photo by Eden Segal-Grossman.
Renowned local dancer and RMT Lynette Segal will be exploring Creative Movement with the Orange and Red Groups. "Another exciting March Break Camp! I'm thrilled to continue working with the wee ones again and with the 6-8 year olds. What a delight it is to learn about each camper, watching them express precisely their unique personalities. By exploring how their bodies move, the forms they can make and feelings evoked in-so-doing, we set compassion, coordination and confidence in motion."
It is a delight to watch Courtney Riddell in action with our campers of all ages!
Courtney Riddell, a First Light Theatre teacher and one-woman show extraordinaire, joins us again this year to work with all three age groups. "I'm super excited to teach this March Break Camp to see the campers come out of their shells and fall in love with the crazy world of theatre. For this camp I want to give some focus on how to create characters. We will explore this through some fun theatre games."
Local dancer Katie Ewald performed at the 2014 Guelph Dance Festival. Photo by Jacklyn Barber.
We are excited to welcome Festival performer and Pilates instructor Katie Ewald to our camp roster as the Contemporary Dance instructor for the Blue Group! "I am excited to meet the campers and to get to know each other through dancing. I have been very fortunate to study and work with some of the leading contemporary dancers and choreographers of our time. I am happy I can share that knowledge with the Guelph community. We will explore the space and the ways we can move through it!"
Visual artist Adrienne Spier poses with her exhibit of repurposed school desks.
Adrienne Spier is a multidisciplinary artist and educator who has exhibited her work across Canada and internationally. She has an MFA from Concordia University, completed the Independent Studio Program at the Toronto School of Art, and has a BA in Fine Art from University of Guelph. She is a qualified teacher, and has been teaching art for over twenty years to children and adults at a variety of schools, camps, and after school programs. She looks forward to exploring a variety of visual materials with campers this March Break.
Don't miss out on this amazing experience for your children ages 4-13! Now, in addition to the 5% sibling discount for our camps, we are offering 20% off your total order with the River Run centre when you purchase two full weeks of our camps, whether that is March Break and a week in the summer, both weeks in the summer, or all three! In-person and phone orders only. Take advantage of this steal of a deal now!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Get Up and Dance at Hillside Inside!

The countdown to Hillside Inside is definitely on! With headliners like STARS and Hey Rosetta!, this mid-winter festival is not to be missed. We are so happy that this action-packed weekend can also include some dance!

On the blog today, we hear from Guelph Dance Co-Artistic Director Catrina von Radecki and Hillside Festival Executive Director Marie Zimmerman on the groovy ways that dance will be woven throughout the weekend-long festival.

We've been co-presenting dance at Hillside Inside since 2011 when the Fab 5 had the idea that we would do a collective "Art Attack" at the River Run Centre in the lobby. The aim was to take people completely off-guard, and it worked beautifully: 700 or so people entered the lobby at intermission and were suddenly surrounded by music, dance and spoken word. It was the buzz around town for weeks afterward!  

Now, five years later, we are thinking that since people are used to us taking this surprise approach that we should now shift toward more formal introductions of the performances. So, this year, we have advertised both intermission performances instead of just springing them on people. We are excited about the intermission pieces because they mark our fifth year of getting contemporary dance in front of Hillsiders, who are well known for their love of movement and their veneration of the body.  Most Hillsiders are familiar with African, Middle Eastern, Celtic, and Afro-Cuban dance styles because we have a Drum & Dance program at the summer festival. But contemporary dance is less familiar, and yet it is so overwhelmingly gorgeous.

The piece for intermission at the 
Oliver Mtukudzi and Alex Cuba show is choreographed by Megan O'Donnell, a Guelph dancer. I have seen her work in the Guelph Shebang and I was really impressed by how grounded her poetry is. 

Catrina: Her piece entitled A Time to Come Home will be performed by an amazing line-up of local dancers: Suzette Sherman, Georgia Simms, Kristine Muth, Jordana Deveau, Lisa Bush, Susan Oxley, and Jenna Oxley. The dancers will sweep through the Canada Company Hall, bringing the audience into the woods with them is time to come home... and to go back into the theatre for the rest of the show. 

: When I saw Frog In Hand perform Cafe Noisette at Guelph Dance's CSA Nooner at the University of Guelph, I knew the piece would work well for the STARS and Hey Rosetta! show. It's got the kind of high-energy cheekiness and rebellion that STARS has played with in the past - flirting with gangsterism as it clashes with innocence.  The piece will contrast just enough with the music on the bill that it will seem like a breath of fresh air.  I hope it sparks lots of questions about the Dance Festival. It would be great if people could glean from this performance that contemporary dance is not the brooding, highfalutin' stuff that mainstream culture makes it out to be. It's relevant; it's athletic; it's in-your-face; and it's exciting.

For the first time ever, the Guelph Dance Festival is ​offering a dance workshop at Hillside Inside. We are glad that they can keep it alive, as it is an audience favourite. The Dance Festival has stepped in with Frog In Hand who will do a swing workshop on Sunday Feb 8th at 2pm at DanceTheatre David Earle Studios on Quebec Street. We are thrilled. Imagine: swing in the winter! We can't wait for this one!

It is not often you get to let it all out on the dance floor, so don't miss this chance! We know Hillsiders love to have fun, and performers/teachers Mayumi Lashbrook and Mateo Galindo Torres will bring it!

The Guelph Dance Festival is able to program dance at other performing arts festivals thanks to the Guelph Fab 5, a partnership between the Guelph Dance Festival, Hillside Festival, Guelph Film Festival (FOMM), Guelph Jazz Festival, and Eden Mills Writers' Festival, and thanks to support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.  

It is our belief that our audiences share our passion for the arts and that by presenting dance at Hillside, we will expose new audiences to our incredible art form and we will be able to support more local and national artists. We also hope you will be enthralled by what you see and will come join us at the Guelph Dance Festival this June 4-7th, 2015. Not only will you see Frog In Hand perform in our In the Park series, you will also see artists from across Canada and many artists from right here in Guelph, perform in our parks, streets, studios, and theatres!