Do you know?....Sharon Harvey

Here's the latest "Do you know?...." installation, this time covering one of the dynamic women involved in Dance Matters' first show of the 2014-15 season. Since I did not know much about Sharon myself when I started out to create this interview, below are my questions to get to know more about this unique and powerful performer.

You have a varied experience as a performer/artist/mover -- can you tell me a bit about your history in dance — where you trained, where you work, what kinds of things you work on?

I started my professional dance performance career while doing my under graduate studies at York university where I met my mentor Dr. Zelma Badu-Younge-Badu Dance Theatre an African-modern dance company. Performing and travelling with her open my eyes to a deeper understanding of black contemporary dance and style that were not available to me at the time of in my training, styles such as Horton, Dunham technique, few styles of South Asian, African dance from different regions of the continent and dance style from an assortment of islands in the Caribbean. I later studied and performed with Canadian dance companies within the black dance community and continues to my ballet and modern training within Toronto’s modern dance community. 

I am a certified and licensed dance conditioning specialist with a wide range of body conditioning somatic under my belt, such as BalleCore, Pilates, CI-training, Floor Barre, Franklin technique which I have explored and presented as a program within the dance, education community. 

With this background my approach to my work as a choreographer is to pull on the strengths and physicality of the dancers to tell the story. So when I had the opportunity to do my Graduate studies in Choreography and Dramaturgy at York University I decided that my thesis would expose the strength of the body and how it tells the story with the use of textiles.

This idea that textiles can tell  stories and impact the physical reality of the dancer, is really compelling. So often in contemporary dance we are costumed to look good or reflect an abstract idea of the dance — can you speak about the way you work with and wear  textiles in your work? 

Before my dance career I studied Fashion Business and Design at Sheridan college and I had minored in costume design during my BFA years at York.  My graduate studies Thesis was BODY-DRAPING: How movement can be created from costuming (fabric manipulation), how costuming is created to support the meaning of the movement; and how costuming can bring out the physicality of the dancer’s character.

When working with textiles I go into the dramaturgical research of the topic looking at the dress of that time as historically recorded, how the time reflects the character/topic of that time. In this present project “I Am S.H.E.", the solo is truly a duet with the fabric and the mover as it takes on an antagonist role within the duet and sometimes the scenography of the space on stage.

Further to this, can you tell me a bit about how textiles can empower women?

In researching the meaning of textiles and beading historically it has been a sign of identity, hierarchy, statues, tribes. I was inspired by the traditional ritual of young girls coming of age in parts of the African continent and other indigenous communities around the world. 

The importance these rituals are put in the hands of elderly women celebrating the transformation of the lives of young women through preparation of waist beads, the costuming of the event, how fabric is draped, the colours used for such an occasion, the dances that are passed down and taught in the importance of their lives and the impact that it creates in the circle of life. That’s where empowerment starts for me.

The empowerment of textiles and beading has also taken on a role in the global economical world as women are now being recognized for the creation and transporting of textiles and beadwork from such places as Nigeria, Kenya, Wax-prints from Ghana, Asia, south America to name a few.

What else are you working on? what’s next?

I am working on presenting my next piece of work Solo/SoulsDeep a vignette of a large project inspired by the painting Sugar Shack by painter Ernie Barnes (see image below). It will be presented in Dance Immersions “Queens Calling” February 6-7 2015. Also researching and creating a dance and textile installation using recycled material for Fall 2015.

What is your dream project?

One of many dreams would be to create short fashion/ dance films with collaborating fashion and textiles designers.

Dance Matters
SERIES 1 - A Woman’s Work

This series explores topics related to women’s rights and roles in society, women’s individual stories related to their heritage, culture or experiences and issues related to gender. 
The venue is intimate and casual, with a focus on celebrating the dance medium with its audience. 
*Mature language

Saturday November 8th @ 8pm & Sunday November 9th @ 4pm
Scotiabank Studio Theatre 
6 Noble Street (Pia Bouman School)

Featuring: Judi ‘JULO’ Lopez (Tor), Marie France Foricier (Tor), Sharon Harvey (Tor), Lilia Leon (Tor) and Andrya Duff (Tor)

For more info on the upcoming Dance Matters show and to purchase/reserve tickets:


Anonymous said…
Good article Sharon! Keep moving...

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