Monday, September 28, 2015

Dance TO Showcase Feature #9: Forgive the pun...short and sweet with Yvonne Ng

Please forgive the pun, but our final feature on the Dance TO Showcase artists and presenters is short and sweet on all counts: Yvonne Ng. She may be small, but she is a dynamic performer, thinker, doer, high-energy, witty and compassionate. She is a choreographer and dancer like no other, but also, and importantly, the director of the dance: made in canada/fait au canada festival (d:mic/fac).

Don't forget to get yourself out to the opening party of Dance TO Showcase events, tonight September 28th 5-6:30, followed by a free showcase performance with Louis Laberge-Cote, Tribal Crackling Wind and inDANCE. 

And here, to finish off our interview series, the succinct and smart answers of Yvonne Ng.

LUCY: Why was d:mic/fac founded? How has that shifted over the years?

YVONNE: It was founded to give back to the community, my community; as a complimentary platform to DanceWorks and Harbourfront Centre; as a way to expand my dual life. In addition to dancing/choreographing i also enjoy producing. It started as a short run of shows every other year, but has since changed to a festival format - more programmes in each edition of the festival.

LUCY: What keeps you inspired as a dancer, as a creator, as a curator?

YVONNE: Inspiration for me comes from many sources, it is hard to narrow it down because that kind of isn’t how my mind or life works.  I mean, people are incredible - what we deem the brilliant or good and the less brilliant, bad people, how we respond to each other, what we do to each other knowingly and unknowingly.  I’m not really knowledgable about politics and global issues but the web like nature of the world and its cycles really fascinates me.

LUCY: What do you think dance artists can do to improve the health of the Toronto dance community?

YVONNE: In general, we should feel even more proud to be a dance artist BASED in Toronto, boast about it.  We’ve got a strong contingent of superb dance artists in Toronto.  We also have dance artists who are wonderfully enterprising and motivated, if they want to initiate change - create complimentary services or join forces with existing organisations who are probably looking for new voices etc. One negative:  Don’t be reinventing platforms just for the sake of building it yourself.  

LUCY what is your dream d:mic/fac?

YVONNE: dance: made internationally - exchanges with different countries - my dream has always been that a dance:made in canada would be a reciprocal exchange with other countries.  That an entire program would travel to Germany or China and Toronto audiences would have dance: made in Germany or China come here.

LUCY: Can you tell me about a performance you’ve seen that was a game changer — artistically or personally? Something you were in the audience for, rather than performing in. 

YVONNE: I'm not really inclined to pick favourites mostly because I just think there is such diversity in dance.  How can I compare a beautiful and raw solo at Series 8:08 to Jean Pierre’s Joe with a dozen amazing dancers creating this visual and sonic cacophony?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Dance TO Showcase Feature #8: The Unstoppable Jasmyn Fyffe

Electric, powerful, compassionate, restless soul. Jasmyn Fyffe is like a little sister to me, even though there is nothing little or immature about her. I offer this interview with the full disclosure that I admire and cheer for Jasmyn and Jasmyn Fyffe Dance. I love seeing her flourish artistically, I am delighted by her positivity and "let's make this happen" attitude.

photo by Christopher Cushman

       LUCY: Why did you want to have a dance company?

JASMYN: When I graduated from York University I was hungry and eager to get into the industry as both a dancer and choreographer however my impatience led me to really push towards creating my own opportunities and work. I wanted to do shows and create choreography and I wanted to do it right away. 

In retrospect I didn't have to start a company to make this a reality but I did. I wanted to create a platform to create work with dancers and collaborators who were interested in my vision and just interested in me and my journey as an artist. I had no idea what I was doing and I still continue to learn on the job. I have also had many mentors over the years who have guided me along in helping me achieve my goals, including you Lucy.

LUCY: Well, you know I've always loved what you do. It's been a pleasure to be of any use. I hope we can finally dance together sometime soon! I remember at first you had a different name for your company, "as the spirit moves". What was the reason for changing the name of your company? 

JASMYN: When I first started my company I had a particular vision for it. With growth both in life and artistically my vision has shifted. Somewhere along the way I felt the name "as the spirit moves" was limiting and carried with it certain connotations. I don’t want to be boxed or labelled. I want my art to speak for itself; not my gender, race, culture or spirituality. I understand that those aspects may come out in work that I create but they also might not and that is okay. 

In essence, the name Jasmyn Fyffe Dance allows me to feel like I can do as I feel, as I am inspired and just let the art be what it is. There are no boundaries and over the years the dancers I work with best suit the vibe of the work and company at that time.  I have a very solid team of collaborators at the moment that suit the work and enjoy it. For this I am very grateful.

LUCY: What is your dream project?

JASMYN: This is such a tricky question and I feel the answer changes as time goes on.  I’m a dreamer and I like to dream BIG! I think my dream project would be characterized by creating and performing in a show that tours internationally, brings the best vibes to people (both artists involved and the audience) and involves some kind of community outreach.  

I love being on stage sharing with audiences and creating and sharing energy with other artists, I love inspiring and being inspired, and I love travelling. It would also be a part of my dream to share the stage with my son Manoah. Just thinking about all of this sounds so perfect. The sky is the limit!

LUCY: Is there one particular location you’d like to take your company to perform? 

JASMYN: Last year I participated in an arts festival in Sinop, Turkey. It was such an amazing and phenomenal experience for me to travel across the globe and create and share my art. This is a real passion of mine and it always greatly inspires me when I get the opportunity to do so. The vibe in Turkey was very open and very free and I loved it.  I have heard from fellow artists that have worked/lived in Europe about their experiences and I would really love to explore this region more, experience the culture and grow and explore artistically with the company.  Recently I've also become interested in seeing what the contemporary dance scene is like in West and South Africa.  I loved the culture shock I felt in Turkey, it was such a powerful shift that took place in my and it was really life changing. I want my whole company to experience the same as we continue to progress and grow.

LUCY: What do you think dance artists can do to improve the health of the Toronto dance community? 

JASMYN: Well, I think one of the main issues is that we have dance events at the same damn time. I think we are a small enough dance community to have less cross over with our shows and events. It would be super fantastic if we could have a calendar with all the dance events happening and then people could slot their times and events in from there. 

Don’t get me wrong, I know its next to impossible to never have any overlap but it is so hard to get to everything when things seem to be overlapping all the time. Also, (and I know this is happening a bit more these days) but I feel the community is very segregated in terms of dance style; it is segregated in other ways as well but I’m focusing on dance style. We need more cross over in the community so that we can grow together in a more well-rounded fashion.  These are just a few thoughts that have been running across my mind.

LUCY: Can you tell me about a performance that was game-changing/life-changing/art-changing? Something you were part of as an audience member — who was it, where, when, why was it impactful?

JASMYN:  This is such hard one for me to answer, and I don't know why. I guess it is because I have seen so many inspiring performances but Im not sure which ones have been life or game changing. And I am also trying not to be 'typical' or 'cliche' as well.  However I remember watching Crystal Pite's Dark Matter and just being so mesmerized by the beauty, structure and brilliance of it all.

I love when I am sitting in the audience seriously trying to figure out how an artist has come up with their creation. It is very fascinating. I had seen clips of it online before watching it live and even they made me want to go into the studio and start creating something or just start moving in general. 

Be inspired by Jasmyn Fyffe Dance 
Tuesday September 29th 4:45pm
Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre
admission is free for Toronto dance artists by RSVP to

more about Jasmyn's company:

Full Dance TO Showcase performance schedules:!showcase-performances/czy5

all about Dance TO Showcase

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Dance TO Showcase Feature #7 Outspoken, Fiesty and in your corner: Hari Krishnan

He's funny, he's fresh, he's fearless.  Hari Krishnan and his company inDANCE are featured in the upcoming Dance TO Showcase performances. Read on to hear his funny, fresh and fearless responses to my Dance TO Showcase-themed questions.

LUCY: Could you tell me a few things about yourself that most people in the dance community wouldn’t know? Anything racy, funny, bizarre?

HARI: I am addicted to the movie ‘Grease’- I’ve watched it at least once a month since I was seven years old!
My favorite color is purple.
I don’t drink coffee or tea (My Mom knows why!)
My very last meal would be a PB&J sandwich.
Gay porn bores me.
I must squeeze the toothpaste from the middle of the tube every time (it drives my boyfriend Rex crazy!)
Rex and I would kill to have Stewart Gilligan Griffin for a son along with bitch-Stewie and evil-Stewie!
We still want to kick George Bush Jnr’s ass, for “breaking” the world.
I am pissed Justin Trudeau is so bland and ill prepared.
Kathleen Wynne be MORE fierce girl!
Up yours Harper!
Under no circumstances, should Canada take Justin Bieber back!

LUCY: Wow. I do that with the toothpaste too. Drives my husband nuts as well. So other than Grease, what keeps you inspired — both to keep creating and to keep dancing?

HARI: An innate, insane, masochistic, obsession/compulsion death-wish striving for my ‘voice’ to be heard.  Of course, this struggle doesn’t pay the bills!

But the standing O, when justly earned, is just as rewarding as the other big O! Never enough.

LUCY: So the need to have your voice heard, was that the driving motivation to form your own company?

HARI: I feel I have a strong, unique artistic voice. Through experience, I realized I would have to alter, adapt, dilute or disown that voice if I were to speak through the medium of another artist or company. Therefore the birth of inDANCE.

My company is an umbrella under which I seek shelter from the common prevailing cacophony (the generic Indian dance company) that already exists. 

My artistic practice, though rooted in decades of research and training with disenfranchised hereditary dance communities stemming from critical, often forgotten feminist dance histories, is further informed by my global lived life experiences, my personal politics on gender, queer sexuality and eroticism, breaking the rules of what is considered ‘tradition’, subverting cliché and challenging dominant discourses on global culture. 

inDANCE is instrumental in expanding my personal politics and practice while interfacing collaboratively with local and international dancers, musicians, composers, designers, scholars and activists.

LUCY:  What is your dream project? 

HARI: In a perfect world, I would sell my boyfriend AND my Mom to work on a 3-way collaboration with the National Ballet, Crystal Pite and my company inDANCE – ON MY TERMS. Of course, I believe in Unicorns too!

As far as international collaborations go, my dreams would seem even more impossible….

LUCY: I guess we'll save those for another interview....Down another avenue: what do you think dance artists can do to improve the health of the toronto dance community?

HARI: On a serious note:

We in the Toronto dance community should conduct a brutally honest audit of ourselves. Our best are bailing town and leaving for greener pastures abroad- to the US, Europe, Asia and then returning only after we’ve peaked. Why is that?

We seem fully content in our own insulated world.

Unfortunately many of us are racist, ignorant and tend to Orientalize, while grand-standing otherwise.

The awards committees are a dance mafia comprised of the usual suspects nominating, adjudicating and winning! Most jurors don’t even bother to attend most of the shows they’re evaluating.

There is a xenophobic aversion on the part of presenters and audiences to support risk taking cross-cultural work unless the risk taker is a ‘celebrated’ entity. In many instances, the undeserving mediocre still rule.

Even the dance fraternity discriminates against its own i.e. artistic directors, dancers and their collaborators in one genre hardly/rarely exhibit any curiosity to investigate the output of other artists/genres.

All of this harms the impetus to create work that is original and otherworldly. Innovation is welcome only if names/brands are bankable and this mostly ensures repetitive redundancy.

Others have proffered all of the above complaints several times over the years and their solutions put forward are very similar to the ones I have to offer. Unfortunately, it all stops at the level of JUST TALKING.

In any case, at the risk of probably losing some old friends and making fewer new ones, here is my perspective:

I strongly recommend our fraternity keep coming together in person, en masse, regularly in a round table brainstorming session to admit these issues exist and consider various options to address them, because there are many, many perspectives, as there are solutions. These meetings should provide a safe, nurturing environment for all attending to be authentic and honest, thus proving to be a productive forum for all.

While I understand that financial resources are a constraint, we should consider the option of inviting our peers (on a complementary basis) to see each other’s work as often as possible to foster a fair exchange of ideas, and understand each others’s genres on a more equitable basis. With that awareness, we should all be considered Canadian and not necessarily culture or community specific, even when some forms do not fit pre-conceived paradigms of what dance is or should be.

Reciprocally, the invitees should be respectful and curious enough to accept the generous invitations extended to them, to build bridges to kinship.

Hopefully this would help constitute a truly more inclusive integrated dance community.

I call for a bolder, more honest, TRULY progressive mindset amongst artists, presenters and audiences.

Dance artists living in the city must think about what excellence is and how that is defined in dance globally. Without this panoramic and self-reflexive attitude, the quality of dance-making and art-production in the city is going to deteriorate even further and not qualify to be showcased on international platforms.

A truly world class global city like London (UK) or Madrid (Spain) nurtures a multitude of representations in contemporary dance. Artists taking risks and making incredible work come from various ethnicities, specializing in non-European dance styles and embracing differing cultural influences. Many of these artists are the face of contemporary dance in Europe. They are nurtured and supported by arts agencies, arts councils, the dance fraternity and by the community at large. Hence their work is current and representative of a 21st century global world mosaic. 

Sadly, I do not see this kind of support and representation in Toronto and yet we pride ourselves on being a global world-class city for the arts.  I call on presenters in the city to cast a wider net and look at artists of various genres and styles who are making excellent work and are taking risks grounded in this excellence.

Art should not always be about financial profit.

In all fairness, I should not fault the artists and presenters alone, because audiences also play a crucial role through their patronage and perceptions of dance in the city. I appeal to the city’s audiences to partake in all kinds of dance while applying democratic standards in their evaluation of the artist’s unique voice.

Whether the artist is working in singular or diverse styles and genres, I encourage the audience to see their work with a fresh, open mind and not judge or dismiss them as irrelevant on the basis of their name, skin colour or dance genre.

As in most TRULY international cities, I dream of audiences in Toronto who patronize and nurture all kinds of dance with an open mind and heart.

LUCY: Again, wow. Thank you for your honesty and incisiveness. I think some of us are scared to say how we really feel sometimes, but you've shown me that with a good, open heart you can be critical without being cruel in this light.  

Ok, final question: Can you tell me about a performance that was a game-changer, art-changer for you — something you were part of as an audience member — who was it, where, when, why was it impactful to you?

HARI: Hands down it was being in the audience, watching Sylvie Guillem’s farewell performance, “A Life in Progress” at the Sadler’s Wells in London this May. It was an absolutely life changing experience as an artist and human being. Here is a dancer TRULY deserving of the much bandied about phrase “sheer poetry in motion”.
Articulate. Precise. Terse. Haunting.

Aspiring to bask in her shadow makes my artistic Sisyphean life worthwhile.

See inDANCE at Dance TO Showcase performance
Monday September 28th at 6:30 pm 
(right after the Cocktail launch party 5-6:30pm)
Harbourfront Centre Theatre (formerly ENWAVE theatre)

all about inDANCE:

all about Dance TO Showcase:

all photos courtesy of Hari Krishnan/inDANCE

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Dance TO Showcase Feature #6: The Joyful, Energetic, Indefatigable Anjelica Scannura

.       The more of these interviews I write, the more I realize the same words apply to all these artists: energetic, vivid, boundless, frank, funny, hardworking and genuinely nice. Trends appear in the answers of each artist, I hope you are reading and sensing them too. There's a call to get together, interact more meaningfully, learn from each other in real and artistic terms.

T    This artist is, like the others, a caring, joyful creature who pushes herself to try new ways of working, new avenues of performance and new embodiments of her goals. Usually I run into her on the subway or the bus somewhere, usually when I am feeling gray and defeated and she always is a focused beam of energy that jolts me out of that funk. 
       Anjelica Scannura is the daughter of Ritmo Flamenco founders Roger and Valerie Scannura, spokesartist for the company which is performing in the Dance TO Showcase Performances as part of Harbourfront Centre's programming.  Anjelica is a profound performer and creator with the company and in many other veins as well.
                                                                photo by Iden Ford

1    LUCY: Why was Ritmo Flamenco founded? 

R    ANJELICA: Ritmo Flamenco was founded in 1995 by my parents Roger and Valerie Scannura. Valerie graduated from the National Ballet of Canada’s teacher training program and then spent many years intensifying her knowledge of Flamenco in both Canada and Spain.  
       This, in conjunction with Roger’s musical knowledge and a desire to fulfill a lifelong dream, provided them with the means to create a school known for it’s technical prowess and the mandate to create choreography that transcends the stylistic boundaries of traditional Flamenco.  Also,  after I was born and was introduced to dance at such an early age,  I developed strong feelings towards being a part of the school and creating.
photo by Jon James

LUCY: What keeps you inspired as a dancer, as a creator? 

2     ANJELICA: What keeps me inspired as a dancer and creator are my travels as a student, teacher, performer and choreographer.  I have a diverse palette of tools that I use to express and bring attention to current world affairs, where the dance is a sculpture for audience members to relate to and think about our relationships with each other and society.  My previous works have circulated the topics of personality disorders, war, Sharia law and now in development, the impending extinction of bees.
photo by Mervat Kassissieh

LUCY: What do you think dance artists can do to improve the health of the Toronto dance community? --not that it’s ailing, just trying to brainstorm ideas to make it better and better.
       ANJELICA: I think that that dance artists can improve the health of the Toronto dance community by going to see each other’s performances!

photo by  Mervat Kassissieh

      LUCY: what is your dream project for Ritmo Flamenco?
          ANJELICA: My dream for Ritmo Flamenco would be to tour.  We have amassed a bevy of material that has not quite had the chance to reach it’s full potential or be shared with the rest of Canada.  Our material is unique, contemporary, yet pays homage to the structure of it’s origins.  Our productions are artistic, yet commercially viable with great track records of success.

photo by Mary Perez

       LUCY: Can you tell me about a performance you’ve seen that was a game changer — artistically or personally? Something you were in the audience for, rather than performing in. Who was it, when, where, why was it impactful?

      ANJELICA: Very recently, for Panamania, I had the pleasure of seeing Robert Lepage’s production “887” at the Bluma Appel theatre.  I was blown away about the rollercoaster of emotions I experienced despite the subject matter being something I don’t necessarily relate to or harbor any strong feelings towards, and the quiet complexity of the production as a whole.

       It was a one-man show written and directed by Lepage, with a large crew, whom shifted and transformed the set and it’s infinite components so effortlessly.  It was the kind of show that, if something were to go wrong, it would be completely obvious.  The performance, writing, use of technology and set design were in the upper echelons of intricacy, yet pulled off so simply.

      Be blown away by Ritmo Flamenco
      Tuesday September 29th at 4:45 pm
      Fleck Dance Theatre
      admission is free but RSVP to to ensure a seat

       full showcase schedule here:!showcase-performances/czy5

       all about Dance TO Showcase here:

       all about Ritmo Flamenco:

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Dance TO Showcase Feature #5: The boundless Kevin Ormsby

Kevin Ormsby: arts marketing consultant, Cultural Leaders Lab Fellow for the Toronto Arts Council 2015, Program Manager of Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario, Standing Council Chair for Dance Companies Committee of the Canada Dance Assembly and last but definitively not least, Artistic Director, choreographer an dancer for KasheDance.

Phew, aren't you tired just reading that!

Kevin Ormsby, supreme hard worker, big picture thinker and great guy to be around.

He's also feature #5 for Dance TO Showcase. Programmed by Dance Immersion for the upcoming showcase performances at Harbourfront Centre, KasheDance is ambitiously and honestly run by this force of nature.

photo by Christopher Cushman

photo by Christopher Cushman

LUCY: Why did you want to start your own company?

KEVIN: I formed my company after returning from dancing with Garth Fagan Dance in New York. I wanted to explore another creative side of myself after feeling I hadn't reached my full potential back in Toronto. One thing I can say about the formation of KasheDance is that artistic succession planning should not be an after thought or seen as a challenge to an existing arts organization. It can offer new approaches and breath more life into an organization.  I formed KasheDance in April 2009 and launched the company at a dance Immersion In Studio Presentation at the National Ballet School.

LUCY: What is your dream project?

KEVIN: KasheDance and its overall is development is my dream project but there are many other smaller projects that supports that dream. Currently, one project, Reimagining TPM will be exploring the idea of (1) time (2) place (3) movement especially in the Canadian context.   Reimagining TPM will look at a technical codification for KasheDance based cultural nuances and is importance to technical forms that the company uses in training and performance. 

It will be conceived to follow the company’s “Sankofa Principales” which asserts to understand where one is going one must always look backward taking into consideration the past. I am curious about where cultural nuances of the African Diaspora arrive in contemporary dance expressions. To do so I want to physical explore and research in the Caribbean, Latin America and West Africa; affirming the concept of the Sankofa principles. It’s really about honouring time, place and movement.

photo courtesy of Kashe Dance

Consecutively, I along with two artistic team members of the company will be creating a work around  “Reimagining: time place and movement” schedule to be premiered in 2017. I particularly like the social and cultural currency of this particular work as Canada turns 150 years old in 2017.  

For me it’s really about reimagining what Canada will be when a minority – majority shift happens in the next three years. All future dream projects involves collaboration for KasheDance this will be no different. I’ll be collaborating artistically with Ronald Taylor and Arsenio Andrade who are part of KasheDance’s artistic team and who also have long artistic history of performance in the Caribbean and Canada.

And touring across Canada and internationally wouldn’t also be such a bad thing huh? 

photo courtesy of Kashe Dance

LUCY: Can you tell me a couple of things about yourself that  most people in the Toronto dance community might not know about you?

1. I have been in the Arts since three and started at the feet of Jamaica’s national  
     Folklorist Louise Bennett Cloverley (Harbourfront’s Miss Lou Room is   
      named for her!)
2.  I also have a musical theatre background.
3. I can facilitate Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process and I'm an Adjunct Artist with  
     the Dance Exchange which she created the same year of my birth (1976)
4. My passion for helping artists connect not only the artistic but the administrative /
    entrepreneurial capacities of our practice.

photo by Christopher Cushman

LUCY: What do you think that dance artists can do to improve the health of the toronto dance community? Not that it’s ailing, necessarily, just looking for ideas about how we grow better and better.

KEVIN: I would be very vocal to assert that we as a “community” are ailing because the dance community is not unified. It operates insularly and based only who knows who and not what is known. I would offer suggestions around diverse training for all artists. This can potentially allow practitioners to not only gravitate to the known but also the unknown, the interaction with the two could provide a more diverse set of interactions in the community. We need to place more emphasis on community, arts education practice as part of the overall community important to our development as individual and arts organizations.

We really need to make a better effort in knowing who is in the community and the skills for which collaborative practices, approaches and presentations can be fostered.

photo by Christopher Cushman

Also: further the inter-generational and mentorships between emerging, mid-career and established arts practitioners.

We need to truly develop the capacity to access dance based on artistic practice, how to provide feedback, support and develop a creative culture based on support, succession and legacy transference. The community will not thrive if everyone cannot feel welcome, supported and encouraged in it. 

When I received the Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award 2014 by the Canada Council for the Arts and the inaugural Toronto Arts Council Cultural Leaders Lab Fellow in 2015 I felt more grounded in the importance of continuing the work I do even though difficult at times. I now ask always as I did  “What do this mean? What do I do next? Who am I responsible for?” Increasingly, I am realizing that beyond being responsible for my artistic self, I am responsible for sharing, learning from and engaging a community of arts practitioners that is more connected than we think.

photo by Christopher Cushman

LUCY: Can you tell me about a performance that was a game-changer for you? Something you experienced as an audience member rather than a dancer/choreographer — who was it, where, when and why was it so impactful?

KEVIN: There have been many game changers. My experiences with Garth Fagan Dance, Dance Exchange and recently in Luminato's Apocalysis were all transformative.

As an audience one of the most impactful was witnessing Jessie Huggett of Propellar Dance perform at the Michealle Jean’s National Power of the Arts Conference. I was again moved by the importance and power of the Arts in the lives of EVERYONE. 

photo by Christopher Cushman

See KasheDance in glorious action.

Wednesday September 30th at 2:15pm
Harbourfront Centre Theatre
Dance TO Showcase
admission is free for professional Toronto-based dance artists of all kinds when you RSVP to:

more about KasheDance:

for full showcase schedule:!showcase-performances/czy5

more about Dance TO Showcase and all the events happening Sept 28-October 1, 2015

all photos courtesy of Kevin Ormsby/KasheDance

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Dance TO Showcase Feature #4: Holly Treddenick of Femmes du Feu

One of the things I am particularly proud of in my career is the time I spent working with Circus Orange -- dancing with fire and pyrotechnics in all types of environments and weather systems. Through this work I came to understand circus as an art form beyond its large-scale entertainment appeal. I also came to know aerial dancers such as Holly Treddenick (well, to be honest I knew her before, but I got to know her better during my time working in circus). I saw multi-talented artists  striving to challenge themselves physically and emotionally through the art, defying the idea that circus is purely spectacle. 

Holly Treddenick is now one of the founders of Femmes du Feu, a company is doing just that, making contemporary dance/contemporary circus works that defy simple categorization and seek emotional impact. They are a company chosen to be part of the Dance TO performance showcase this fall,  programmed by Dance TO Showcase partner Harbourfront.

photo of Holly Treddenick courtesy of the artist

LUCY: Why was femmes de feu founded? how has it shifted over time?

HOLLY: Femmes du Feu was founded in 2003 by Lindsay Milakovick (now known as Lindsay Goodtimes) and myself. We had been long time dance partners and friends. We had gone through School of Toronto Dance Theatre together (graduating in 1999), had created and performed together, and had become close friends. 

Lindsay and I had learned fire-spinning from a friend, Natalie Fullerton. We began choreographing fire dances using our dance backgrounds and our new fire skills. We did a few shows together and spent a summer busking on the streets of downtown Toronto. As we were doing more and more performances and decided to put it under an umbrella and form our company, Femmes du Feu. That was us, “women of fire”- both fire signs in our western and Chinese astrological signs!

Around 2005, our other best friend from our School of Toronto Dance Theatre days, Sabrina Pringle, arrived home after touring with the Caravan Stage Barge with new skills of aerial silks. We convinced her to teach us. The three of us were heading deeper and deepr into the world of circus. Sabrina joined Femmes du Feu in 2006 and we began integrating aerial silks into our work.

photo of Sabrina Pringle and Holly Treddenick courtesy of Femmes du Feu

The company has changed a lot since it’s inception, our focus has always to integrate circus skills with contemporary dance, to cross disciplines while exploring new formats and collaborations. Lindsay has phased out as an artistic director, though she still joins us on occasional projects. 

We also now host events such as Aer Time and Circus Sessions in order to help develop the art form.
Femmes du Feu photo by Zhenya Cerneacov

The company has changed and morphed even by the sheer nature of staying committed to each other, the company and an arts practice. There have had to be times where we were more or less active, but I’m excited to see what lies ahead for us.

LUCY: Between you, Sabrina and your regular collaborators there are lots of kids! How many?

HOLLY: I have 2 kids, Sabrina has 2, Natalie Fullerton, who works with us often has 1, Lindsay has 2, and Lara Ebata -- another regular collaborator is super aunty!!

LUCY: What keeps you inspired as a dancer, as a creator?

HOLLY: If I stay open, inspiration comes from everywhere and anything. I’m finding more and more that the closer to myself that I look and listen for inspiration, the more honest and from my heart I create.

I often turn to this quote:

“When you’re afraid, just train
When something doesn’t feel right, just train
When you don’t believe in yourself, just train
The only thing that won’t betray you is your training”
- Sakaki

Training= conditioning, improvising, reading, seeing shows, writing, rehearsing, keeping my body/ mind/spirit healthy

Femmes du Feu photo by Foto Dances

LUCY: What do you think dance artists can do to improve the health of the Toronto dance community?  -- Not that it’s ailing, I want to accumulate ideas for how to make things better!

HOLLY: More affordable studio space! Wow. That’s important. And more venues/performance series/ presenters to present raw, unfinished experimental works.

LUCY: Do you have a dream project for Femmes du Feu?

HOLLY: There isn’t one “dream” project for Femmes du Feu. For us the dream is more of a continuum. I would love to produce a show for World Stage and tour around the world-- Canada, Europe, Asia, bring our families…

I dream of seeing the community work we do (like Aer Time and Circus Sessions) continue and one day be run by the next generation.

LUCY: Can you tell me about a performance you’ve seen that was a game changer — artistically or personally? Something you were in the audience for, rather than performing in. Who was it, when, where, why was it impactful?

HOLLY: I recently saw It Comes In Waves by Blue Mouth Inc. The show began by canoeing to Toronto Island. It was presented as part of Panamania. It was magical, mystical, mature, fresh, raw, exposed and personal. We were in nature. We touched the water, trees, grass. Saw a naked dance. Ate, drank, danced. We were guided through self-reflections. The acting, the music, the images, the scenes; I was moved. Each performer is unique and so special. I was there with my best friends. It was an experience. It opened me up. I would be so honored to work with those artists one day.

See Femmes du Feu in beautiful action at Dance TO Showcase

Tuesday September 29th at 4:45 pm 
Fleck Dance Theatre
Free admission for Toronto professional dance artists.
to reserve your spot RSVP:

for more on Femmes du Feu:

for the full schedule of the Dance TO Showcase performances:!showcase-performances/czy5

all about Dance TO Showcase: