THE LIGHTNESS OF DANCE: The National Arts Centre in Ottawa Reveals Their 2014 – 2015 Season

The best of National and International dance in Ottawa.

The most uplifting and ecstatic times of my life have been spent in the presence of dance. Dance is the adventure you take to travel to new worlds and find uncovered territories in your own soul.

This week the National Arts Centre in Ottawa unveiled their 2014 – 2015 Dance Season. I am sure this new season will be Ah-mazing! In recent months I have experienced stunning performances at the NAC –  British Choreographer / Dancer Akram Khan’s Desh and American Choreographer / Dancer Kyle Abraham’s The Radio Show. Both shows were biographical in nature taking their inspiration from each man’s relationship with their father – moving accounts of memory, love and loss.

Ottawa is blessed to have such a strong advocate for dance in the NAC–CNA as they showcase the best in international talent as well as the best in Canadian talent. Recently at Carlton U’s New Sun Conference , a symposium celebrating the finest in Aboriginal contribution to the Arts in Canada, Sandra Laronde (Artistic Director of Red Sky Performance) spoke of her own company’s relationship with this great cultural hub in Ottawa.

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Image of book called Musicage with woman's feet in background another image of book opened to poetry with woman's finger pointing at the words.The feet and finger of Peggy Baker. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

The best of National and International dance in Toronto.

Yesterday I was reminicinsing about beautiful dance moments with Nancy Burgoyne (Cultural Planner for the City of Ottawa) a cultural kindred spirit. I was telling her about seeing another national treasure, Peggy Baker, at the Canadian Opera Company’s Free Noon Hour Concert Series. Sitting in the front row Peggy was steps away from me performing Piano Quartet, a work inspired by John Cage’s poetry based on the quotations of one of my favourite American painters Jasper Johns. This is precisely what I love about dance – that it is this flexible artistic medium! Through movements that are abstracted yet powerful visual cues a story can be told to audiences of all backgrounds and every age. It’s not about mental comprehension but about feeling the emotion of the work. Even the most stubborn of hearts can’t help but be transformed when positioned in front of the palpable energy of dance.

This damn cold winter was warmed a few times during by my visits to the COC! I saw Parul Gupta, founder of Montreal’s Infusion Dance, perform and give an informative workshop on the meaning of the hand gestures and foot work of the Classical Indian Kathak dance. The week prior Gadfly, arguably one of this country’s best Urban Dance Company, gave the audience a history lesson in Contemporary Street Dance.

The COC noon hour performances are Toronto’s secret jewel!  For creative types and freelancers these performances offer a chance for a quick inspiration calibration. A great way to take a moment out of your day to feel some lightness!

Also in Toronto the Fleck Dance Theatre, part of the Harbourfront Centre, is where more moving moments can be discovered. WorldStage and NextSteps is their superb programming of established and emerging talent. I can’t recall how many times I have been at Fleck hovering above my seat in sheer joy at what I was witnessing!

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THIS WEEK IN OTTAWA: Tomorrow night and Saturday in Ottawa you can see Cloud Gate Dance Theater of Taiwan perform Song of the Wanderers. Get tickets here…

THIS WEEK IN TORONTO: Tonight in Toronto (running until Saturday night) you can see Rina Singha and Danny Grossman perform Circles of Bricks: Rhythms of Kathak Dance. Get tickets here…

NEXT WEEK IN TORONTO: On Tuesday, March 25 you can see Peggy Baker Dance Company perform FREE at the Canadian Opera Company as part of their Noon Hour Dance Series. Show up early to get a good spot in the line!

Whether you are in the capital of Ontario or the capital of Canada you have the best of dance at your (tapping) feet.

For more information on upcoming performances and where to purchase season tickets check out:

National Arts Centre – Centre National des Arts on Facebook & twitter @CanadasNAC

Canadian Opera Company on Facebook & twitter @CanadianOpera

Fleck Dance Theatre on Facebook & twitter @HarbourfrontTO

BEST IN SHOW? EVERYONE! Design Week in Toronto & The Growth of a Community

Detail of colourful paper sculpture by Tara Keens-Douglas

made the spaces in-between smash / process dictates form /  make art everyday / design create innovate think experiment play /  shiny pretty things loop /  embrace this space

After 6 days and 20+ events my mind is busy synthesizing all that I saw, everything I experienced and each person I interacted with.

Celebrating 15 yrs in partnership with IDS, Azure Magazine’s Trade Talks left me with more than enough food for thought and a satiated mind. Both Oki Sato and Philippe Malouin took the audience inside the head of a designer with regards to the important of process. True to Jerzsy Seymour’s reputation, his talk was full of surprises. Jurgen Mayer H., the German who has now become a sort of Starchitect for the Georgian Government spoke of the forward thinking with regards to institutional buildings in a country eager to emerge on the international scene as a destination of interest. The philosophy behind Jurgen’s design for the customs checkpoint at the border of Georgia and Turkey was to build a structure that would represent the meeting point of two countries rather than the dividing line between an “us” and a “them”. Watch for more of his work popping up on the landscape there!

And I have to agree with Jurgen’s comment to the ladies from ArtsCom on his way out the media lounge on Saturday. The show was well organized (and running on German Standard Time)!

I appreciated all the great conversations on architecture, design, and culture I had even if they were cut short because I was running off to the next event.  Thanks to Janet at Latitude 44, Ange-line and Michael of Imm-Living, Matt and Chris of Projector Design, Natalie and Kyle of Composite Angle as well as Laurie and Mania of Samare and Stanley and Ashley of Mason.  Also thanks to designers Tat Chao,Tahir Mahmood and Christopher Solar, the multi-talented Camal Pirbhai, visual artist Camille Turner and architect-slash-design-activist Zahra Ebrahim!

Design Week wouldn’t be as successful as it is without the vision and dedication of people like Gelareh Saadatpajouh, Programs Coordinator of Toronto Design Offsite. Gelareh facilitated an engaging Design With Dialogue session that got each of us to show the group how our design practice looks. With all the different approaches that we shared and our individual ways of finding a solution, one thing was made clear – the community is stronger when we uplift and collaborate.

Everyone contributed to making Design Week such an incredible time!

Plastic sign outside Made Design store
Drawings from group discussion that reads spaces in-between
Sign of Smash and Toronto Design Offsite on the glass window front of the store
Playing with dry ice at design workshop, designer Jerszy Seymour speaking at IDS with slide of drawing of volcano behind his head
Detail of install by Samare at IDS with samples of their felt rugs and the process
Designer Philippe Malouin speaking at IDS with screen behind him that says process dictates form
Window display with paper snowflakes and a poster that says Make Art Everyday
Window display with wooden lamp, chandilier with umbrella handle, and chandilier made with recycled stemware
White paper cloud like structures around modern furniture
Window in the front of gallery with shiny logo reflecting the buildings across the street
Room with mirrors on the floor and under the furniture reflecting the space in infinity, books piled high from floor to ceiling
Five panelists sitting with mics to talk about design in front of a brick wall
Colourful screen printed posters and image of black bricked storefront from street with sign saying Loop
A checkered building on colourful stilts suspended over older brick building with CN Tower in the background
Brick wall with painting across the side with the words Embrace this SpacePhotography by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

1. Detail of Tapestry by Tara Keens-Douglas for the Gladstone’s 10th Come Up To My Room
2. Sign outside MADE, Dundas West during DoDesign
3. Doodles from the Design with Dialogue group for Toronto Design Offsite
4. Sign outside SMASH, The Junction
5. Playing with design process at the Design with Dialogue group for Toronto Design Offsite
6. Designer Jerszy Seymour at IDS for Azure Magazine’s Trade Talks
7. Detail from Samare Design’s install at IDS for “How Do You Work?”
8. Designer Philippe Malouin speaking at IDS for Azure Magazine’s Trade Talks
9. Window display at ARTiculations, The Junction
10. Window display of Brothers Dressler’s  “Ash out of Quarantine Show” at ARTiculations
11. Up-cycled Stemware glass chandelier by Montreal designer Tat Chao at IDS
12. Chandelier with umbrella handle at LightForm at Toronto Design Offsite’s Opening Party
13. Mason Studio’s install at Pavilion for Toronto Design Offsite
14. Window at Cooper Cole Gallery, Dundas West for Shiny Pretty Things show
15. Bruno Billio’s install at the Gladstone’s 10th Come Up To My Room
16. Panel Discussion for Come Up To My Room 10th Anniversary at the Gladstone.  L to r – Andrea Carson Barker, Justin Langlois, Chrisina Zeidler, Zahra Ebrahim, & Pamila Matharu
17. Prints made in house at SMASH, The Junction
18. “Not Forkchops” exhibit at Loop Gallery on Dundas West, Toronto Design Offsite
19. View of OCAD University, McCaul Street
20. Outside wall of Student Gallery at OCAD University, McCaul Street