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Interviews, essays and commentary published by The Dance Current.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cabaret DVD Contest

Enter to WIN the 40th anniversary edition Blu-ray of Cabaret courtesy of Warner Home Video here.

Simply leave your name and email and you'll be entered in our draw to win!

After you enter, read Moze Mossanen's interview with Louise Quick on Cabaret, Bob Fosse and life on Broadway here.

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(*Note: contest is not open to Dance Media Group staff, Board of Directors or contributors)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Projected Body

41st Dance on Camera Festival in New York
February 1st – 5th, 2013
By Philip Szporer

Aarti Joseph in Dafeena by Marlene Millar and Philip Szporer with choreography by Natasha Bakht

When the Dance on Camera Festival (DCF) beckons with its annual call for submissions, there’s generally a current of excitement that ripples through the dance-film community. There’s the allure of New York of course, but having your film screen at the festival’s home base at Lincoln Center is not only noteworthy but a thrill.


This year’s forty-first anniversary edition, produced by the Dance Films Association, boasted an international array of short films, archival pieces, documentaries, a retrospective of Shirley Clarke’s pioneering work, two programs of short films billed as “installations” (more on that later), as well as artists’ talks and other related exhibitions.

The festival’s administrative team is a new one – Christy Park, the DFA Executive Director, Liz Wolff, the DFA Festival Co-Curator, alongside longtime Film Society at Lincoln Center Festival Co-Curator Joanna Ney – so perhaps it’s too soon to gauge the direction they’re setting for the event, both for its own American dance filmmaker constituency, but also for participants from abroad. A festival should be a golden opportunity to see lots of material and get a better sense of the state of the art, mingle with colleagues and meet presenters in the field. At this edition, which ran from February 1st-5th, it appeared there was little attempt to highlight foreign filmmakers or bring participants together in meaningful dialogue. An exception was a brief meet-and-greet that was quickly eclipsed by a screening and a book signing at other venues. No programmers from international dance-film events were present at festival events. Nor were the press in evidence. Perhaps the most egregious oversight was not providing all filmmakers with nametags – only one tag was given per film. Most events were sold out, which was good for the festival, but because most filmmakers didn’t have a festival pass many didn’t see the films of their colleagues.

Who By Fire by Jacob Niedzwiecki with Buck 65 and Jenn Grant

Canadians were nonetheless well represented on screen. Gabrielle Lamb’s En Avant, Jacob Niedzwiecki’s Who By Fire, Thibault Duverneix and Victor Quijada’s Gravity of Center, Duncan McDowall’s Painted, and the short film Marlene Millar and I co-directed and produced, Dafeena, were featured in short film programs or screenings before features or documentaries. Our homegrown films stood shoulder to shoulder with offerings from the UK, France, Mexico, Russia, Japan, Spain, Australia, Italy, Sweden, Germany, Israel and the USA. A couple of highlights that I managed to see included the documentary Lads Go Dancing, a Swiss production by filmmaker Steve Walker about the Bern Ballet collaboration with rock band Kummerbuben, and the beautifully shot Menuett, by Finnish filmmaker Jukka Rajala-Granstubb.

The Shirley Clarke schedule of films – including Donna Cameron’s 1990 documentary portrait, Shirley Clarke: In Our Time, as well as Clarke’s own Dance in the Sun (1953), adapted from choreography by Daniel Nagrin, In Paris Parks .(1954), Bullfight (1955), and number of her other short 16-mm films – was significant. During Clarke’s lifetime (she died in 1997) her films and career rarely got the attention they deserved. The DCF retrospective coincided with the HD release of Cameron’s documentary as part of a tribute to Clarke’s life and work. Clarke began her artistic career as a dancer, training with the matriarchs of modern dance, including Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey and Hanya Holm. She turned to cinema and become a leading member of the independent filmmaking community in New York, co-founding the cinema-verité collective Film-Makers’ Cooperative alongside Albert Maysles and D.A. Pennebaker. Friends and collaborators included John Cassavetes, Agnes Varda and Maya Deren. Her faux documentary The Connections, about a group of heroin junkies, won the International Critics Prize at Cannes in 1966. The film ran afoul of the censors, due to its charged language. Her documentary Portrait of Jason (1967), about gay hustler and aspiring nightclub entertainer Jason Holliday, remains one of the most respected LGBT films. She was one of the few women working in the field at that time and was not always taken seriously, feeling the sting of discrimination throughout her career. Even receiving an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for Robert Frost: A Lover’s Quarrel (1963) couldn’t enhance her clout in the film industry. In fact, she found it difficult to get financing for her films and was increasingly marginalized. Although she influenced many filmmakers, there has never been a significant re-release of her films.

Gravity of Center preview by Thibaut Duverneix with Rubberbandance Group

Not surprisingly DCF heavily supports and promotes American-made films, and as such provided a window into the financing for dance films stateside, which is limited at best. Many of the films credit university departments for their funding, while others seemed to be self-financed as no sources of funding whatsoever appeared in the credits. The Canadian ones were tagged with nods to either BravoFACT (clearly the last round of dance films to get funded by the foundation) and/or the Canada Council for the Arts, as well as other sources, and that alone speaks to a commitment to support this important and essential art form in our country.

I sensed that quite a number of the films screened were DIY projects, which is not necessarily a bad thing; however production values were wildly divergent and unjustified length was a serious issue - many pieces just went on and on with no sense of montage. Directors of photography were largely absent from many of the American offerings, which leads me to question what perspective these dance filmmakers are espousing: does capturing dance eclipse film language, so that even the basics of medium shots and close-ups aren’t explored? Too many of the films on view had no sound design or live sound recording, just a wallpaper music overlay, which makes me wonder if filmmakers are losing a grasp of these skills. Are we riding a wave of copycat production wherein bad practices are repeated? Or is it simply a case of people having easy access to a camera? Where is the power of camera movement and cutting rhythm? Creating dance film should be a collaboration between choreographer and filmmaker. Matthew Diamond’s 1999 Oscar-nominated documentary Dancemaker was screened again at this year’s festival. It’s important to remember what he once said about the making of dance films: “Shooting dance is not so much hard as it is insanely delicate. Wrong angle, wrong shot, wrong edit and the whole thing falls apart.”

Still shot of Aarti Joseph and Atri Nundy in Dafeena by Marlene Millar and Philip Szporer with choreography by Natasha Bakht

At the DCF “installation” stream of programming, I was expecting/hoping for an interactive gallery experience. But at the lovely 25CPW Gallery Space on Central Park West, the festival chose a bare white wall on which to project two clusters of films, never even turning off the gallery’s glaring lights. The festival program indicated that these films “inherit an experimental traditional whose origins can be found in European avant-garde movements of the twenties. Some are themselves experimental in nature, some are not; but they are challenging, meditative, and brave.” I’m not going to throw about criticisms of this or that film, but the vast majority of what was shown didn’t meet the context for the series. Sitting on the concrete floor for ninety minutes each time didn’t add to the experience.

Critic and writer Deborah Jowitt once wisely said something to the effect that bad dance is bad dance, no matter how imaginatively it’s filmed, and wondrous dance can still survive even the worst of renderings. That may be true, but with so much expertise at our disposal, it’s imperative that the goal of filmmakers be more than just achieving the marriage of two art forms.

Learn more >> vimeo.com/channels/danceoncamerafestival

Dafeena, Gravity of Center and Painted will all be at the 31st International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) in Montréal, March 14th through 24th, 2013.

Dafeena, directed by Philip Szporer and Marlene Millar and featuring the choreography of Natasha Bakht will be available for streaming at bravofact.com later this year. 

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Pursuit of Perfection Contest

Enter to WIN a copy of The Pursuit of Perfection: A Life of Celia Franca by Carol Bishop-Gwyn here.

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(*Note: contest is not open to Dance Media Group staff, Board of Directors, contributors or residents of Québec)

Louise Quick on Cabaret, Bob Fosse and life on Broadway

Interview by Moze Mossanen

Bob Fosse cast Louise Quick as a Kit Kat Klub dancer for his movie version of Cabaret in 1971. In the film, she is introduced by the Master of Ceremonies (played by Joel Grey) as ‘Helga’ in the lineup of dancers during the first number, Willkommen. Louise went on to work with Fosse on a number of subsequent projects, including Liza with a Z and Pippin. Filmmaker Moze Mossanen conducted an interview with Quick on December 24, 2012. Their conversation has been edited and condensed.


Moze Mossanen: Tell me about your background--where you were born, where you studied and what brought you to New York.

Louise Quick: I grew up in Mobile, Alabama. My dance teacher took me to New York when I was eleven. I had six summers to study before I moved up for good when I was sixteen in my senior year. I also studied with a Russian ballet mistress for three years and was at the American School of Ballet as well. But my first job was in a nightclub in Pittsburgh. It was a mistake--I should never have gone to a place like that when I was seventeen. But then I started working in stock and my first Broadway show Bye Bye Birdie happened in 1960. I think I did a total of nine Broadway shows including No Strings (the national tour), Golden Boy and Half a Six-Pence. They were all good shows; my only flop was Fig Leaves Are Falling, unfortunate because I had a big role in it. David Cassidy played my little brother and Barry Nelson played my father -- all back in 1969. We had four big performances and then it closed! George Abbott directed it and Eddie Gasper, who was one of Bob Fosse’s assistants, choreographed it.

And then there was [the original production of] Sweet Charity, a revival of Cancan at City Centre and Pippin, of course. My last Broadway show was The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. Then I got into choreographing which I didn’t enjoy that much.

I [did] a production of Sweet Charity and a production of Pippin and a couple of other original shows. I discovered I loved directing. You see, my knees were going and I didn’t have the nerve to start all over as actor. But then I was out of the business and I was a telemarketer for a few years. The last ten years or so I’ve been toe dipping, just doing what people ask me [to do]. I directed a production of Pippin in St. Louis, which was exciting. And I assisted Liza Minnelli on her show (Liza’s at the Palace) which was great. And then I had a cabaret show of my own a few years ago but Hurricane Irene hit and that was that. It left me homeless; on top of that, I had cancer. But I’m okay now. Right now I’m still living out of a suitcase but I’m having some work done on my home which is why I’m not working on my show right now. I don’t know if I’ll be ready for the spring but maybe for the fall. And that’s where I’m at right now.

MM: Tell me about the time you first met Bob Fosse.

LQ: In 1957 I auditioned for him for Redhead on Broadway but I was eliminated immediately. Then, a few years went by, and I saw the Actor’s Fund benefit for Sweet Charity [prior to its Broadway opening] and I knew I had to do it. Six months later they were auditioning for replacements and I auditioned and I got it. I did Charity for about a year. That was in 1966. And then, lo and behold, a few years later I got a letter to do the movie [version] of Sweet Charity. I couldn’t believe it because I heard you had to audition for Fosse for anything, even if he knew you. But he called me up and I did the Sweet Charity movie. And then I got a call to do the movie of Cabaret. I thought, ‘Does this mean I’m a real Bob Fosse dancer! [laughs]’ After Cabaret, I stayed in Germany for a year and after I came back, Bob called again and said ‘I’m doing a new Broadway show and would you assist me?’ Well, I had never assisted before and had no idea what assisting was about. I told him that I had worked so hard as a performer [and wanted to stay a performer]; so, no. But later he called again and said ‘I’m doing a TV show and it’s got only about five weeks of rehearsal.’ This time, I said ‘okay’; and I’m glad I did because that show ended up being Liza with a Z. And then came Pippin where I assisted Bob as well. So, I’m the only living person who worked with Bob on all three of his triple-crown projects. (Cabaret, Liza with and Z and Pippin.)

MM: He must’ve thought highly of you to do all that work with him.

LQ: I never had much self-esteem and never thought about that until years later. But now, talking with people about those days, I say to myself: ‘My goodness, I was really lucky.’ I started realizing that people are really interested in these shows and movies and really respond to them. I can see that they were a huge part of our showbiz history.

MM: How much preparation did you do for Cabaret before you left to shoot in Germany?

LQ: We rehearsed for six weeks in Germany and the shooting was around six weeks for the dance sequences. And then the film went on location and I went along with the crew where I stood in for Liza. But I know Bob did a lot of preparation before he left for Germany. He had one German film assistant director in Germany [Wolfgang Glattes] but it was very possible that he did a lot of preparation with his American dance assistant, John Sharpe, most likely at the Broadway Arts studio in New York. [His second dance assistant, a German, was Uta Beil.]

MM: I can only imagine getting the gig to direct Cabaret was a big deal for him.

LQ: Oh, sure. Remember that Fosse was not a sought-after movie director at that time. Sweet Charity [which had been released a few years before] was not well received and he was just floating, becoming a sponge, travelling, taking acting classes, doing whatever he could do to sharpen his game.

MM: Tell me about your arrival in Germany to shoot the movie and your meeting with the other cast members and how rehearsals began.

LQ: There were two dancers hired from America--Kathryn Doby and myself--and four German dancers hired in Germany. Kathryn and I stayed in a hotel in the Schwabing district, near Leopoldstrasse in Munich. And we started working right away with the dancers and Bob’s two assistants and with Fred Werner, the rehearsal pianist. How can I explain how it was to work with him? It’s so hard to put into words. Let’s just say that the experience starts at the moment you know you’re going to work with him. The other dancers spoke a little English but there was such mutual respect between Bob and his crew and the German dancers. You see, the German dancers were not accustomed to being treated so well. For example, when he excused a dancer during the auditions, he would shake their hand and say ‘Thank you for coming.’ They had never been spoken to like that before. So it was easy to see why the dancers in Germany fell in love with him. And that expression ‘thank you for coming’ became a [catchphrase] in Europe. It became a funny line--as a way to show respect for someone. And because of that respect, he got about 150 percent from everyone. When he works, he works full out. There’s no ‘marking.”

MM: I read somewhere that some of the Germans who came across the production were quite uncomfortable with part of their painful history being revisited again. Did you come across any of that?

LQ: When we were shooting in the studio it was not apparent. But on location it was different. There were a few incidents. When we filmed the song, Tomorrow Belongs to Me [which is sung by a member of the Nazi Youth], there was one person in the biergarten who really freaked out and had to be escorted off the set. He got totally wrapped up in the Nazi fervour shown in the scene. And then there was also one neighbourhood street scene where it was very uncomfortable-- the scene where there was a cop on a horse, an SS guard. It was a relatively poor neighbourhood, and there were some people there who got overtly nasty. And [there was] another incident with a friend of the still photographer, who was a former junkie and quite effeminate. A bunch of people took him into a store and beat him up. Not sure if the reason was drugs or his being an American associated with the film. It wasn’t a story that got around; they kept a lid on it.

MM: Were there any particular moments during rehearsals that stood out for you?

LQ: I remember one time we were working and it was just Ute [one of the dancers] and John [Fosse’s assistant] and Kathryn Doby and me. Bob wanted someone to do a flip but he would always do it himself to make sure it was safe. So he did it but he landed smack on his face. It was not good! But he quickly turns to us and says: ‘Don’t tell Gwen! Please, don’t tell Gwen!’ [Gwen Verdon, Fosse’s wife at the time.]

MM: I also read that Gwen helped Bob a lot on the film.

LQ: Oh, absolutely. When Bob was unhappy with all the costumes made for the girls [the Kit Kat Klub dancers], it was Gwen who went out to the thrift shops and brought in racks of clothes for us to wear. And it was Gwen who found the gorilla head in New York and then flew to Germany with the head sitting on her lap on the plane! [The head was part of the gorilla costume that Louise Quick wore in the If You Could See Her Through My Eyes number with Joel Grey.]

MM: What was it like being in that gorilla costume for so long?

LQ: It wasn’t great [laughs]. For one thing, I couldn’t see through the mask. It wasn’t fitted and I was completely in the dark while dancing. With the [Kit Kat Klub] stage being four feet off the floor, I was also always afraid of falling over the edge. In rehearsal, Bob had me rehearse with a bag over my head. With all the turning I did and all the chaînés, it was very hard. And, that moment where I was trying to look into my gorilla purse: Couldn’t see a thing! But I figured out that by moving my head or jaw a certain way, I could bring up my head to see through the nostrils. And that’s how I got through it!

MM: Can I ask how much you were paid for your work back then?

LQ: I made about $200 a week – for both rehearsals and shooting. The German dancers made about 200 Deutsche marks, which, after conversion, was something like $50 a week American.

MM: Were there any moments during shooting that you remember most vividly?

LQ: I remember the extras in the audience. I remember loving their reactions and their acting. They were very much into their parts. And it goes back to Bob treating them so well – as human beings. These actors/extras were not used to that! And when it came to their close-ups, they were treated like stars. They had makeup people, wardrobe… and they were lit as if they were leads. Bob called each one by their name. And it spilled over. Everyone felt they were part of the production. But there was also a feeling that we knew that something really good was being done. There was always this excitement in the air. A tingling. The stagehands bent over backwards to please Bob. At six o’clock at night when the whistle would go off, none of the stagehands would stop working until Bob excused them. That was the kind of respect they had for him.

MM: Tell me about rehearsing and shooting the Mein Herr number, the dance most closely associated not only with Liza Minnelli but with the movie as well.

LQ: Mein Herr was very difficult physically. The thing I remember most is that grotesque, machinelike and bitter anger that comes from the choreography, especially the choreography given to the dancers behind Sally. See, the chorus is behind Sally Bowles but we are doing something entirely different than what she was doing. Sally is flirting but the girls in the background are in counterpoint in some way. It’s almost like a miniature of the movie itself--Sally and her story amidst this Nazi horror story taking place. And you know… I’m not even sure it was a conscious thing on Bob’s part. Not something he did deliberately but something in his subconscious that made it come out that way.

MM: Was anyone hurt physically during the rehearsals or shooting?

LQ: Yes, but we never told Bob if something hurt, because it would really affect him. He would care so much and we didn’t want him distracted. I’ll tell you a little story. It took three days to shoot Mein Herr but on the second day one of the girls didn’t show up for shooting. We learned that she had tried to commit suicide the night before. Nobody told Bob that this had happened--he would’ve been devastated. So Ute took her place and, not knowing the choreography as well as the rest of us, her back became so scraped that the skin peeled back and there was bleeding. But she would never show her back to Bob, always sitting facing him so that he would not know. My own knee problems all started in Mein Herr.

MM: How long was the overall rehearsal and shoot?

LQ: Six weeks to rehearse all the dance and song numbers; six weeks to shoot them, including Liza’s Cabaret number and then six weeks to shoot all of the studio, exterior and on-location scenes. All the interior scenes [like Sally’s apartment] were shot in a studio in Munich, with the street scenes filmed in various locations in Berlin. And the castle was in [the lake district of Eutin; it belonged to the Duke of Oldenberg.] Bob also had me on hand to do all of Liza’s footsteps [for the film’s sound effects recording] in some scenes, including the Cabaret number. I did it again for Liza for her Liza with a Z special a year later.

MM: I love the scene in the rowboat with the butler silently and stoically holding the champagne bucket while Sally, Brian and Max are frolicking around him.

LQ: Yes, but do you know who that butler was? He was the actual butler who once worked for the baron who lived in that castle. Bob heard about this and hired him to become the technical adviser for the dinner party. He had the butler instruct the actors playing the waiters to do it the way it was supposed to be done.

Bob did the same thing with Fritz’s and Natalia’s wedding in the synagogue. He wanted the authenticity of a real Jewish wedding so he asked a rabbi to help out. The rabbi asked to see the script but Bob showed him a watered-down version… well, you can only guess why! Anyway, the rabbi ended up doing it for the film.

MM: Did you know that Bob was going to cross-cut many of the dances with other dramatic elements?

LQ: No, not at all. We had no idea what they would look like. I think he wanted us to stay in the reality and feeling of the dance without knowing the larger picture; it might’ve been distracting.

MM: What do remember most about Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey?

LQ: Liza and Joel are the epitome of class. Just to watch the three of them work was such a treat. There was a great interaction between all of them. It was a great thing to watch.

MM: Given the incredible success of the movie all over the world, as well as its being recognized as one of the top musicals of all time, did it change your life in any way?

LQ: It didn’t change my life but when people find out I was in the movie, their faces light up. If it did change me, it changed me inside, in that it gave me more self-esteem. I can look at the movie, look at how great it is and what a great piece of art it is and say: ‘I was a part of that.’

The 40th anniversary of Cabaret the movie was celebrated recently with the Warner Brothers re-release of the groundbreaking musical on Blu-ray.

See Moze Mossanen’s review in the March/April 2013 edition of The Dance Current.

Learn more >> For an in-depth and excellent look at the making of the movie, read Cabaret by Stephen Tropiano, published by Limelight Editions, 2011.

More information about Cabaret can also be found at officiallizaminnelli.com

Moze Mossanen is an independent filmmaker who has created a body of popular and critically acclaimed work blending drama, music and dance. These films include the award-winning feature-length doc Dance for Modern Times and numerous works created especially for television. His most recent films, Love Lies Bleeding and Romeos & Juliets, both aired on CBC in 2012.

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Feature: Phoenix

The Life and Times of Eddy Toussaint
By Linde Howe-Beck

Summary | Sommaire

Eddy Toussaint / Photo by Linde Howe-Beck

Like a perpetual phoenix, Eddy Toussaint, founder/artistic director of Ballet de Montréal Eddy Toussaint, one of Montreal’s most popular companies during the dance boom days of the seventies and eighties, has risen from the ashes of his wide-ranging career and returned home.

Comme un perpétuel phénix, Eddy Toussaint, fondateur et directeur artistique du Ballet de Montréal Eddy Toussaint, renaît des cendres de sa vaste carrière et revient au bercail. Sa compagnie était une des plus populaires à Montréal lors de l’essor de la danse dans les années 70 et 80.


Toussaint has formed a project-based chamber ballet group of young dancers called Ballet Eddy Toussaint de Montréal, (the original company closed shop in 1990). He has always been a controversial figure in Montréal. A man who treasures his extended family and who tries to live true to his Catholic beliefs, nevertheless, he has outspoken ways and a hot temper that have led to many a tense moment during his long and varied career. “I know I am known to be difficult. I am happy to be,” Toussaint explains with typical verve and pride. These days, in two modest studios in a thriving commercial area in Montreal’s West End, the 67-year old Toussaint works with his school’s three teachers and his company, aspiring to pass on the purity of ballet to a new generation of dancers.

Dernièrement, sous presque le même nom que sa première compagnie fermée en 1990, Toussaint met sur pied un groupe de jeunes danseurs de ballet qui fonctionne par projet. Il a toujours été une figure controversée à Montréal. Il chérit sa famille et adhère le plus possible à ses croyances catholiques. Néanmoins, son franc-parler et sa mèche courte ont provoqué quelques moments tendus au cours de son long parcours diversifié. « Je sais qu’on me connaît comme étant difficile. Ça me plaît », déclare-t-il fidèle à lui-même, avec verve et fierté. Aujourd’hui, à 67 ans, il travaille avec les trois professeurs de son école dans deux modestes studios dans un quartier d’affaires en pleine effervescence dans l’ouest de Montréal. Il aspire à transmettre la pureté du ballet à une nouvelle génération de danseurs.

Toussaint with Camilla Malashenko in rehearsal with Ballet de Montréal Eddy Toussaint / Photo courtesy of Toussaint

Read the full article in the March/April 2013 issue of The Dance Current print magazine. | Lisez l'article intégral dans l’édition imprimée de mars/avril 2013 du Dance Current.
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Profile: Heidi Strauss

The Ecologist
By Ben Portis

Summary | Sommaire

Heidi Strauss / Photo by Jeremy Mimnagh

Thirty-nine-year old choreographer Heidi Strauss is about to create her first long-form, large-company piece with Toronto Dance Theatre (TDT). Everyday Anthems will premiere in March at Harbourfront’s 2013 World Stage Festival.

La chorégraphe de 39 ans Heidi Strauss est en création pour sa première pièce intégrale pour un groupe avec le Toronto Dance Theatre (TDT). Everyday Anthems sera présenté en première en mars au World Stage Festival 2013 de Harbourfront.


Following her early training in Sudbury and at the School of TDT, Strauss’ career has been a flurry of independent initiative, creation, collaboration and contribution; for twenty-five years she’s been a catalytic element, constantly moving between adjacent but separate milieus, a cross-pollinator. She has worked with older mavericks who exemplify dignified, self-reliant working processes and do not compromise the things they believe in, such as Peter Chin and Denise Fujiwara. She has had close partnerships with collaborators such as Murray Darroch, Darryl Tracy, Ken Gass and husband Jeremy Mimnagh. Now, in Everyday Anthems, Strauss and her creative team elicit stories from the nine TDT dancers’ real lives and experiences. “Our lives are graphs of events”, she says. “We find ourselves alone; then we find a community. Stories are how we carry people with us”.

Après une formation initiale à Sudbury et à la School of TDT, Strauss entame une carrière emplie d’initiative indépendante en création, en collaboration et en contribution. Depuis vingt-cinq ans, elle est un élément catalytique qui voyage continuellement entre milieux adjacents – elle œuvre en pollinisation croisée. Elle a travaillé avec des non-conformistes plus établis, modèles de processus rigoureux, autonome et de fidélité à leurs valeurs, tels que Peter Chin et Denise Fujiwara. Elle a travaillé en étroite collaboration avec des artistes comme Murray Darroch, Darryl Tracy, Ken Gass et son mari Jeremy Mimnagh. Maintenant, dans Everyday Anthems, Strauss et son équipe glanent des histoires vécues des neuf danseurs de TDT. « Une vie est une carte d’événements », dit-elle. « On se trouve seul et ensuite on trouve une communauté. Nous portons les autres dans nos histoires. »

Read the full profile in the March/April 2013 issue of The Dance Current print magazine. | Lisez l'article intégral dans l’édition imprimée de mars/avril 2013 du Dance Current.
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In Conversation: Jazzing Culture/Culturing Jazz

Summary | Sommaire

Caroline Fraser and Deanne Walsh in Why Dance? 3D by Michèle Moss / Photo by Tony Field

Many styles and forms fall under the rubric of jazz dance, from the social dances of the swing era, to the jazz musicality of tap, to the modern jazz of Broadway and Hollywood. The characteristics that unite these forms are their propulsive rhythm, a focus on improvisation and a low centre of gravity generally recognized as having roots in African dance.

La rubrique de danse « jazz » regroupe de nombreux styles, des danses sociales de l’époque du swing dance, à la musicalité jazz de la danse à claquettes, au jazz moderne de Broadway et de Hollywood. Ses formes partagent un rythme entraînant, une mise en valeur de l’improvisation et un accent sur le poids du corps proche du sol généralement attribué à des origines en danse africaine.


Jazz dance scholars Shawn Newman and Melissa Templeton organized a roundtable discussion for the Canadian Society of Dance Studies 2012 conference in Montréal. Inspired by the conference theme, “collaboration,” they brought together a group of distinguished jazz practitioners and scholars to discuss their work. Participants included Ethel Bruneau, Vicki St. Denys, Eva von Gencsy and Michèle Moss. In the true spirit of jazz, this improvised conversation brought many vibrant voices together creating a playful discussion on the place of jazz dance in Canada.

Les chercheurs en jazz Shawn Newman et Melissa Templeton ont organisé une table ronde pour le colloque de la Société canadienne d’études en danse à Montréal en 2012. Inspirés par le thème du colloque – la collaboration, ils ont réuni des praticiens et chercheurs chevronnés en jazz pour discuter de leur travail, dont Ethel Bruneau, Vicki St. Denys, Eva von Gencsy et Michèle Moss. Dans le véritable esprit du jazz, une conversation improvisée et ludique a permis à plusieurs voix vitales de se pencher ensemble sur la place du jazz au Canada.

Read the edited excerpt in the March/April 2013 issue of The Dance Current print magazine. | Lisez l'article intégral dans l’édition imprimée de mars/avril 2013 du Dance Current.
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Report: State of the Art(ist)

A Platform for Change
Report - Part One

Summary | Sommaire

Today, the environment in which dance artists operate is radically different than in decades past. New technologies, global interconnectedness and the changing nature of public engagement in the arts have been at the root of this change.

Aujourd’hui, le milieu de la danse diffère radicalement de celui des dernières décennies. Au coeur de cette transformation : les nouvelles technologies, la connectivité mondiale et la nature changeante de l’engagement public dans les arts.


[More than ever] there is a need to take another look at some of the fundamental assumptions of how the arts are supported and sustained in Canada, including how public investment is distributed, what kinds of working models best facilitate the creation, production and distribution of art, where partnerships can be leveraged to better capitalize the sector, and how the arts can better engage with, and create value for the communities and audiences they serve. In the first of a three part series, dance artist and arts policy researcher Shannon Litzenberger explores strategies to create meaningful change within the Canadian dance and arts landscapes.

Plus que jamais, nous avons besoin de revoir les prémisses du financement et de la durabilité des arts au Canada, y compris la distribution des fonds publics, les modèles d’opération pour la création, la production et la diffusion de l’art, les partenariats qui pourraient mieux servir notre secteur, ainsi que l’engagement accru des arts dans les communautés et auprès des publics. Dans le premier volet d’une série en trois parties, Shannon Litzenberger, artiste de danse et chercheuse en politique des arts, explore des stratégies pour créer un changement systémique significatif dans le paysage de la danse et des arts au Canada.

Shannon Litzenberger is a Toronto-based dancer, choreographer, writer, director and arts advocate. Currently an Innovation Fellow at the Metcalf Foundation, she is exploring the changing relationship between arts policy and practice. As an independent dance artist, she recently presented her new dance production HOMEbody - lessons in prairie living... to critical acclaim. She is the recipient of the 2012 Jack McAllister Award for Accomplishment in Dance from Ryerson University.

Read Shannon’s report in the March/April 2013 issue of The Dance Current print magazine. | Lisez l'article intégral dans l’édition imprimée de mars/avril 2013 du Dance Current.
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Dancing the Manifesto

A Celebration of National Dance Week April 22nd – April 29th

National Dance Week Message 2013

Vicki Adams Willis

The ancients had it right. They understood the vital role that dance and music play in connecting us to the gods, to our communities and, indeed, to our inner selves.

Les anciens l’avaient bien compris. Ils avaient tout à fait saisi le rôle vital de la danse et de la musique dans notre relation aux dieux, à notre communauté et, bien sûr, à nous-mêmes.


Dance and music were the major mediums through which our disparate ancestors experienced, honoured and celebrated the “big picture” and practised an intrinsically holistic approach to life. When they danced, they nurtured and ignited their spirits while exercising their bodies, and they included everything from education and rites of passage to contemplation and celebration in the mix. Sometimes the entire community danced and sometimes it was up to the master dancers and musicians to communicate universal truths through their skilled performances and ceremonies.

Throughout National Dance Week let’s all remember why we dance. Yes, when we dance it feels good, but it’s more than that. As humans we are far more than flesh and blood and logical thinking, and the essence of dance addresses this in a profound and immediate way.

Happy National Dance Week and International Dance Day to all! ~ Vicki Adams Willis

La danse et la musique constituaient la principale voie par laquelle nos divers ancêtres expérimentaient, honoraient et célébraient l’univers. Ils envisageaient la vie de manière véritablement holistique et lorsqu’ils dansaient, ils nourrissaient et animaient leurs esprits, tout en exerçant leurs corps. L’éducation, les rites de passage, la contemplation et la célébration passaient tous par la danse et la musique. Parfois, c’est toute la communauté qui entrait dans la danse. Parfois, il incombait aux maîtres danseurs et musiciens de communiquer les vérités universelles par leurs habiles exécutions de spectacles et de cérémonies.
Pour la semaine nationale de la danse, rappelons-nous pourquoi nous dansons. Bien sûr, nous le faisons pour nous sentir bien, mais il y a plus que ça. Comme humains, nous sommes davantage que chair et raison, et la nature de la danse s’adresse justement à cela de façon profonde et immédiate.

Joyeuse semaine nationale de la danse et heureuse journée internationale de la danse à toutes et tous! ~ Vicki Adams Willis

Learn more >> cda-acd.ca

Check out the photo essay in the March/April 2013 issue of The Dance Current print magazine. | Regardez les photos dans l’édition imprimée de mars/avril 2013 du Dance Current.
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Healthy Recipe: White Bean and Avocado Dip

Illustration by Nicole Bazuin

Homemade dips are versatile and provide protein and healthy omega fatty acids from the olive oil and avocado. Served on whole-grain crackers, this recipe provides a balance of all the macronutrients needed to keep you energized at home or on the road.


2 cups cooked white or navy beans (you can used canned, but if you choose to prepare your own they are even healthier)
4 ripe avocados
4 garlic cloves
1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
2 sprigs fresh or 1 tsp dried tarragon
1/4 cup lemon juice
Zest from half a lemon
1/2 tsp red-pepper flakes
Unbleached sea salt to taste


In a food processor, combine beans, avocados, garlic, tarragon, parsley, lemon, red-pepper flakes and 6 tablespoons of water. Season with salt. Process until smooth. Serve sprinkled with red-pepper flakes, if desired.
Chill and let flavours develop for several hours before serving. Serve with whole-wheat pita chips, pumpernickel rye or flaxseed crackers. This dip is also terrific on grilled or boiled root vegetables (potatoes, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes) or on a bed of arugula or salad greens.

This recipe was inspired by Avocado and White Bean Dip from marthastewart.com

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Massage Balls Contest

Enter to WIN a pair of massage balls courtesy of Halfmoon Yoga Products in Vancouver here.

Simply leave your name and email and you'll be entered in our draw to win!

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(*Note: contest is not open to Dance Media Group staff, Board of Directors or contributors)

The Dancing Chiropractor

By Dr. Blessyl Buan

Blessyl Buan (2002) / Photo by Wendy Vaubel

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be many things. I wanted to be a doctor, a teacher, a mother and, secretly, I wanted to be a professional dancer. My story is about how a little dream can drive intention and how dreams of dance don’t have an expiry date.


When I was in my third year at McMaster University studying kinesiology and juggling dance classes and shows, I was preparing to decide what I wanted to be “when I grew up.” Around the same time I was narrowing my career search, a talent agent who had noticed me at one of my shows asked to represent me. One year later, I submitted my application to the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College just as my agent was insisting, “You need to audition for The Lion King. You’re booked to go.” Without hesitation, I packed my dance shoes and took the train to Toronto with a childhood dream tucked in my back pocket.

I arrived at the audition with confidence and an open mind. Gorgeous dancers with long legs, flexibility and lots of experience were everywhere. At the time, I had experience on stage, but was still pretty amateur. I was new to my agent’s roster of talent and, with a potential chiropractic career ahead of me, I had nothing to lose.

The first round was technique and across the floor combinations. To my surprise, the “Fosse girls” were being cut and I was still in the running. My mind was racing. I thought, “If I get cast and I also am accepted to chiropractic college, I’ll defer my entrance and dance after my undergrad!” What a plan.

The second round was choreography from the musical itself. The casting director was smiling at me. As I practiced the combo I just couldn’t get a beautiful battement line à la seconde. I thought, “Maybe they won’t notice.” However, they did notice and my name was called. I was cut. As I walked out, heartbroken, the choreographer yelled out, “Go to ballet class, ladies!” I peeked through the door to see the audition continue. From that point, I gave up on dancing.

Blessyl as Lululemon Ambassador / Photo by Bruce Zinger

If I transplant myself back to that time, I see myself internalizing the message, “You are not good enough for this level. You are not a REAL dancer.” When I watched the production a few months later and looked at the bios and headshots in the program, I cried. It’s amazing how rejection can make an impact especially when you are at a crossroad. It took eight years for me to understand that it was a necessary experience.

My aspiration to be a chiropractor was also strong at this time in my life. One year earlier I had been experiencing chronic groin and hamstring strains while performing. It was later attributed to a sacroiliac joint problem. In Toronto, I met Dr. Julie Houle, a former ballerina with The National Ballet of Canada. She was the first practitioner to tell me that I didn’t need to quit dancing while I was injured. Her approach and way of educating inspired me. I would travel to her Toronto clinic monthly even though I was studying in Hamilton. It was through meeting her that I decided to combine my two passions: healing and dance.

In 2001, I started my four-year program at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College and vowed that when I graduated, I would teach dancers how to be injury free, and I would improve their dance technique by being a sound practitioner and teacher. In my second year, I was awarded the Robert J. Cannon Award, given to the student who shows promise in contributing to dance health upon graduation. Reading books and writing exams consumed my time. Although I had said “goodbye” to my dance career, my hunger for it continued and dance eventually called me back under the light – except this time it was for film and television. A friend encouraged me to audition for a commercial that needed dancers. I booked it and became hooked. These types of dance contracts were short and allowed me to work as a dancer while studying.

Blessyl on set during Dairy Farmer's Milk Rap Commercial (2002)

During my four years of pursuing my Doctor of Chiropractic designation, I gained experience working on a dance series, a CBC documentary, a music video, a variety show and several commercials. I also earned my apprentice status for ACTRA. My experiences taught me what it was like to be a working dancer and also that dancers have specific needs for performance. I also started to teach hip hop classes as my part-time job and opened my own hip hop school with weekly classes on Sundays for youth and adults. It was called “choreograFIT: the choreographed solution to fitness”. I managed to juggle both worlds – dance and school – and graduated in 2005 as a chiropractor with professional commercial dance experience under my belt.

As I entered the workforce, I started to believe that my dance days were over again since I had to focus on building a practice. I also got married and began a family. But a friend once again encouraged me to audition. I was four months pregnant when I booked a commercial in which I had to dance in front of a green screen. My wardrobe mysteriously didn’t fit but I didn’t tell the director I was expecting. We figured something out and my first-born gave me little kicks when the music cued.

From that point, I continued to take ballet and contemporary drop-in classes as part of my fitness routine. (I also secretly hoped that a dance contract would come my way again and these classes also served as training.) My chiropractic practice grew throughout the years and my inclusion of Pilates, chiropractic and acupuncture techniques and treatment helped dancers and non-dancers learn about their bodies and to be injury free. For seven years I treated both emerging and professional performing artists and dedicated myself to being a resource for education, rehabilitation and treatment for my patients.

In July 2012, with the coaxing of yet another good friend, I auditioned and was cast with ten local dancers to perform with the lead actors of the movie Step Up Revolution 3 on Much Music’s live show New Music Live. At the age of thirty-three and a mother of two I was laughing inside: I was dancing with nineteen and twenty year olds who assumed I was also their age. The experience definitely gave me some validation!

Blessyl in Step Up Revolution Flash Mob for New Music Live at Much Music (2012)

These days, my oldest daughter is taking dance classes and it’s been a catalyst for me to target dance studios and dance educators on how to ensure that dancers are being trained safely. On September 16th, 2012, I spoke at the Healthy Dancer Canada Conference in Vancouver about “Achieving the perfect line: Demystifying flexibility and stability in dance training”. The presentation was well received and I plan to speak at future conferences and organizations. Recently I was invited to be a part of the Healthy Dancer Screening Committee for Healthy Dancer Canada and I’ll be a speaker at the Performing Arts Medicine Association’s regional meeting in Toronto in 2013.

As a practitioner, I can truly empathize with the dancer’s desire to be free from injury and the anxieties they experience whether they are working or between contracts. It’s knowledge that I gained from being a working dancer. I am very fortunate to juggle both careers.

Dr. Blessyl Buan / Photo by Ryan Buan

As a mature dancer, I embrace the changes in my physicality. There are other ways to showcase your body as you age. Interestingly, I am much more confident in my own skin now than when I was younger and had the flexibility and physique that I didn’t appreciate at the time.

This is what I have learned: dance is an extension of your heart. Dance is wearing your emotions on your body through movement. Under this definition, dance never ages and so your relationship with it should never end. In actuality, dance becomes more colourful as you age. I want a new generation of dancers to dance with no regrets and to have the tools to be successful. Being a healer and a dancer is my life’s work. It is both my intention and my passion to be a practitioner who is knowledgeable to treat and educate the performing artist; I can be genuinely empathetic to their needs because I am also one of them.

Your childhood dreams are messages of what you intend to become. At thirty-four years of age I can honestly say that I am a doctor, a teacher, a mother and a professional dancer. It took the writing of this article for me to appreciate my ongoing journey. For that I am both humbled and grateful.

On January 27th at 2:30pm at the Creswell Dance Academy in Toronto, Dr. Buan will lead a workshop in Acuball for Dancers. The Accuball Mini is a tool for self-care between class and rehearsals to prevent injuries. Participants will learn breathing techniques as well as ways to scan the body and release muscle tension. info@drblessyl.com for more info.

Dr. Blessyl Buan, B. Kin (Hons), DC, Dip. AC, Pilates, practices chiropractic, medical acupuncture and rehabilitative Pilates. As a professional dancer, she has a passion to educate and prevent injuries of the performing artist. Find Dr. Blessyl Buan on Facebook or Twitter, @drblessyl.

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Canadian Arts Coalition’s Arts Day on the Hill

Report by Shannon Litzenberger

Tuesday October 23rd marked the Canadian Arts Coalition’s annual Arts Day on Parliament Hill. Building on four years of positive momentum, Arts Day 2012 welcomed over 130 arts supporters from across the country – converging under the banner of the Canadian Arts Coalition to advance a common message.


The Coalition’s membership includes artists, arts organizations, business leaders, volunteers and audience members from all corners of the country – effectively the largest consortium of arts, culture and heritage supporters in Canada. The Coalition is non-partisan, 100% volunteer-led and receives no government funding – important features that have contributed to the Coalition’s reputation as a credible arts policy advisor. It is led by a dedicated Steering Committee that includes Co-Chairs Katherine Carleton (Orchestras Canada) and Éric Dubeau (Fédération Culturelle Canadienne-Française), as well as Melissa Gruber (CARFAC – Canadian Artists Representation – Le Front des artistes canadiens), Sarah Iley (Canadian Arts Summit), Bastien Gilbert (Regroupement des centres d’artistes autogérés du Québec), and myself (Business for the Arts).

Arts Day participants shared a common goal and strategic message, carefully crafted by the Coalition and focused on consensus issues within the sector that are reasonably aligned with Government interests and priorities. This year’s message focused on two key policy priorities, the first of which was to ensure critical program renewals at the Department of Canadian Heritage. A suite of programs re-packaged by the Conservative government in 2009 is set to expire in 2015. These programs are currently under review by the Department and include the Canada Arts Presentation Fund, the Canada Arts Training Fund, the Canada Cultural Investment Fund and the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. A total of $80 million is up for renewal.

The second priority is one that has been championed by the Coalition since its inception in 2005: continued and increased support for the Canada Council for the Arts. Given the Government’s careful management of economic recovery at this time, our message was framed around sustained support with consideration for increased investment as the Canadian economy continues to recover. Last year the Coalition’s Arts Day helped to protect the Canada Council from potential cuts, in a context of spending reductions across all departments as part of the Government’s Deficit Reduction Action Plan.

A record number of 115 meetings were scheduled this year with MPs, Ministers, Senators and senior officials from all parties. Key meetings included Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Heritage Paul Calandra, Official Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair, Liberal Leader Bob Rae, and senior officials at the Department of Finance. Heritage Minister James Moore was unable to meet with us this year, as he was at home in his riding. Moore has been an important champion of the Coalition and our work, mentioning us recently on the CBC’s George Stroumboulopoulos show as effectively advocating for sustained investment in the Canada Council for the Arts. Moore tweeted supportively during #artsday and commended the Coalition for our friendly and productive approach. Watch his impromptu speech from the 2011 Arts Day reception here.

Arts Day participants were prepared with MP biographies, notes from past Coalition meetings with the MP, and profiles of arts activity in the MP’s riding. With the help of Government Relations firm Ensight Canada, attendees were also briefed on the politics and protocol of Arts Day. They were encouraged to frame key messages in the context of their own work, illustrating the impact of investment through personal stories and narratives that connect to the MP’s local constituency. For some MPs this is an important educational piece and for others a chance to express pride for the artistic activity taking place in their home communities.

Arts Day closed with a lively reception hosted by Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin. The room was beyond full and many MPs who were unable to meet with us during the day made brief appearances. Canadian actor and Queen’s University Political Science grad Graham Abbey of The Border offered a few compelling words on the importance of government investment in the arts, following an equally supportive and impassioned speech from Deputy Speaker Comartin.

The strategic approach to advocacy employed by the Canadian Arts Coalition has paid dividends over the years, as we are now recognized as a credible and respected representative of the arts sector across all parties, able to offer sound policy advice to government and elected officials. Following Arts Day, the Coalition received an invitation to lend our “expert point of view” with the Standing Committee on Finance during their upcoming cross-country pre-budget hearings. I appeared in front of the Committee in Ottawa on November 20th on behalf of the Coalition.

Coming up in the March/April issue The Dance Current in Part One of a three-part series, Shannon Litzenberger reflects on her work as an Innovation Fellow in Arts Policy at the Metcalf Foundation, including a report on the recent Creative Partnerships symposium hosted in collaboration with Business for the Arts, the Canada Council for the Arts, the ASO Learning Network and the Manulife Centre in Toronto. At this day long symposium, Litzenberger presented key arts sector trends and issues, contextualizing opportunities for collaboration between arts and business. Her work set the stage for a host of guest speakers from across Canada, the US, and Australia who highlighted new innovative private-sector partnership development models. Her upcoming series will reflect on contemporary issues in the national dance landscape, and offer up some perspectives on how to build capacity for the next generation of dance and arts development in Canada.

Shannon Litzenberger is a Toronto-based dancer, choreographer, writer, director and arts advocate. Currently an Innovation Fellow at the Metcalf Foundation, she is exploring the changing relationship between arts policy and practice. As an independent dance artist, she recently presented her new dance production ‘HOMEbody - lessons in prairie living…’ to critical acclaim. She is the recipient of the 2012 Jack McAllister Award for Accomplishment in Dance from Ryerson University.

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Photo Essay: Tango

The People’s Embrace
Photography by EK Park

Summary | Sommaire

Tango has been declared part of the world's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. It was started in the 1800s by the working poor of Buenos Aires and was only later taken on by the middle class.

L’UNESCO inscrit le tango sur la liste représentative du patrimoine culturel immatériel de l’humanité. Les travailleurs pauvres de Buenos Aires développent cette forme dans les années 1800 qui est éventuellement adoptée par la classe moyenne.


Today, the majority of tango aficionados in Argentina tend to be working class, bohemians and taxi drivers, with a sprinkling of adventurous bourgeois. Here in North America, it’s a white-collar pursuit, especially popular with engineers and computer programmers.

Alison Murray and Carlos Boeri teach a traditional style of tango from the Villa Urquiza neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Tango has been exported primarily as stage performance, and often the uninitiated confuse what's on stage for what is appropriate on the social dance floor. Dramatic, skirt-splitting dips and poses don't go. This photo essay featuring Murray and Boeri and photography by EK Park demonstrates the more intimate, less flashy side of the Argentine tango.

Aujourd’hui, la majorité des amateurs de tango en Argentine sont des travailleurs, des bohèmes et des chauffeurs de taxi, accompagnés d’une poignée d’aventureux bourgeois. En Amérique du Nord, c’est un art de cols blancs, très populaire auprès des ingénieurs et des programmeurs.

Alison Murray et Carlos Boeri enseignent une forme traditionnelle de tango du quartier Villa Urquiza du Buenos Aires. Puisque la danse a surtout été exportée comme art de la scène, les non-initiés confondent souvent la forme scénique avec les codes acceptables dans un contexte de danse sociale ; les envolées spectaculaires à fendre les jupes n’ont pas leur place dans un salon de danse. Cette collection de photos montre un côté moins tape-à-l’œil, plus intime du tango argentin.

Check out the full photo essay in the January/February 2013 issue of The Dance Current print magazine. | Regardez toutes les photos dans l’édition imprimée de janvier/fevrier 2013 du Dance Current.
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Friday, January 4, 2013

The Dance Current Reader Survey Report

Shaping our Organizational Transition
By Megan Andrews

A great big thank you to everyone who took our marathon survey in the fall. We appreciate your endurance. If it’s any comfort, analysis was even more of a marathon! But we learned a ton and really value your commitment in taking time to share your views. You might not have known why we were asking certain questions, but we have found your responses very helpful.

We’re in the process of a transition here at The Dance Current, building a new website and evolving our organizational strategy. Your input is essential as we make choices about how to proceed. This transition also provides the opportunity to improve what we do, so it’s great to hear about what you think is working and where we can do better.


As with most not-for-profit arts organizations, we do what we do on a shoestring. We have approximately two-and-a-half full-time equivalent staff, spread among four part-time people (Kathleen, Brittany, Michael and me), plus a stable of freelancers and our invaluable interns. Our revenues include advertising, circulation (subscriptions and single copies), private donations and public funding. It takes all of this – and a LOT of goodwill – to create and produce the print and online content you enjoy.

It takes about two to three months to build a print issue, and corresponding online content, from writer commissions to designed pages. A single feature article goes through approximately eight to ten versions in the course of the editing process, and that’s before it goes into design. Photos and videos are sourced, selected and credited (which we take great pains to do as accurately as possible), additional text elements created (someone has to write the table of contents and ensure all the tag lines and biographies are in order, for example). Ad spaces are allocated, artwork is vetted to our specs and then production ensues. We go through about 4 full proofs of the completed print magazine over the course of a week, before we give our printer the green light. Online content comes together more swiftly but still requires editing and image collection, all the while we continue regular posting of national performance and event listings, news, reviews and videos.

We put a lot of thought and care into what we do and from what you’ve told us in the survey, you recognize and appreciate this work, so thank you again for taking the time to provide your feedback.

We will carry on – and most definitely in print as well as online. You’ve told us loud and clear that print is still very valuable to you and we agree. There’s nothing like flipping through a shiny new magazine, turning the pages to be surprised by a spectacular photo, or pulling it out on the subway or in the studio to finish reading a great interview or feature article. In case you’re wondering though, we do have a digital edition of the print magazine available (via Zinio) and we will be exploring some new digital newsstand options in the coming year. We know that most of you still prefer print reading, but we’re committed to staying current with our media strategy and this is part of our planned evolution.

About that online reading, you’ve told us that you don’t use our online content nearly as much as print and that some of you don’t even know how much online content we create. FYI, we publish about three reviews per month, ongoing national performance and event listings, a daily video blog, news and additional web-exclusive feature articles. You told us you really like e-current and find it a useful source of content and updates. We’ll continue and have some plans to improve it to serve you even better. On the Social Media side of things, we were surprised to hear that 92% of you are on Facebook but that only 30% are on Twitter. We love to connect with you on Facebook and will keep doing that. Keep in mind that we’re also using Twitter more and more to disseminate Canadian dance news and updates, so consider creating an account to stay current with the scene and follow us @TheDanceCurrent.

Our new website is set to launch in 2013 and will present all this great content in a much clearer and friendlier manner. Finally and at long last we were able to secure funding (through the Ontario Trillium Foundation) to do this overhaul. Rest assured, we won’t be introducing paid subscriptions online, but we will be offering advertising and sponsorship opportunities in order to support our production of this content. You should be able to find what you’re looking for with no trouble at all. Keep an eye out for the new site in the coming months and be sure to let us know what you think. Please also share, like, and encourage others to join the Canadian dance conversation online at www.thedancecurrent.com.

Many of you told us you want more content that addresses critical discourse and issues in the dance field, and others said that you want more popular content, profiles, practical tips and info. In terms of our content, it’s a fine balance to manage. We want to serve our core readers in the profession, and we want to reach out to the private studio sector, to new and younger dancers, and to a broader arts and culture readership. Our philosophy is that if you’re passionate about dance, you’ll find something in the magazine especially for you, and hopefully by flipping through our pages or browsing our website, you’ll discover new angles and areas of interest that you didn’t know about before. We aim to expand all our readers’ perspectives on dance by presenting a diverse range of artists, practices, issues and ideas in a dynamic and accessible manner.

Publishing a niche arts magazine in Canada is no mean feat. Truth be told, we need more subscribers to support the work we do in order to sustain it over the long term. There just isn’t the population to support multiple dance titles addressing multiple aspects of Canadian dance, so we balance our content to fulfill readers’ thirst for critical discourse on dance and ideas, while also engaging students, fans and dance-interested publics with our broad ranging content. Our goal: to engage more and more people in the world of dance, and to educate and excite them about the art and practice in all its shapes and forms.

Over 80% of you think it’s very important or essential that our content connects to current events in the field. You also believe it’s key that we cover developments, trends and innovations in aesthetics and practices as well as in training and pedagogy. Over 90% of you want us to keep covering arts advocacy and political issues in Canadian dance and a good number of you think we should sometimes cover Canadian artists working internationally. We think these are all important points and we’ll keep developing articles on these and related topics.

But a note of invitation: if you think we’re missing someone or something important that should be included in our pages (either print or online), please be in touch. A quick email or Facebook post will do the trick and we will be very happy to hear from you.

We were surprised to learn that 30% of you read French and over 20% of you think it’s either essential or very important that we provide some of bilingual content. We will continue to do so. If we could, we’d be fully bilingual but the resources are just not available for complete translation or the associated design and productions costs.

A few other things we learned about you, that are not entirely surprising:

• 87% of you are female
• Most of you are between the ages of 25-55
• 70% of you live in urban areas, but most of you want to see regional and rural coverage too
• 30% of you read French
• over 90% of you trained at a private dance studio as a child or youth
• 98% of you attend live dance events, and you prefer other live performance (music, theatre) over museums and galleries
• 31% of you attend live dance between 3 and 6 times per month!
• 95% of you believe our Canadianness is important,
• And, you feel we have impact in the following ways, as stated by some of you in your words:

“The Dance Current allows the professional dance community across Canada to stay in touch with the main events and trends that are going on; it helps people feel connected to a community. It provides a voice for dance in Canada and allows documentation and promotion of Canadian events.”

“Contributes to intelligent discussion of the art form. Acts as a print and virtual "community centre" for the art form.”

“Promotes communication and awareness.”

“It is so important to maintain an archival document of Canadian Dance and it gives weight and depth to the history of the art form.”

“I think that it pulls dance across Canada together. I like the fact that I can find out about what is happening in other provinces through this magazine.”

It was certainly gratifying to hear such positive feedback in general on our work, particularly because it is still a labour of love in many ways. But perhaps more important were the critical comments and evaluations you provided, which we take very seriously and will strive to improve upon. I think we all know that it’s impossible to please everyone; however, with the variety of content that we publish across our multiple platforms – print, online and social, with some live events in development – we indeed hope to deliver content that engages, challenges and inspires all of our current and new readers.

Finally as publisher, I’d like to make the point that – whatever its form these days, be it print, online or both – a publication is a public forum; it requires, and serves, an engaged public. That would be YOU! We are media and as such, we mediate. By this, we mean that we strive to make sense of the topics we cover in order to facilitate greater understanding and appreciation by the broader public. Hence our current tagline: We mediate dance!

Thanks again for participating in our survey. We promise the next one will be more concise!

And congrats go out once again to our winners: Jane Ogilvie of Edmonton won a full-year subscription for herself and one for a friend; Mary Fogarty of Toronto won Dance Collection Danse's Renegade Bodies: Canadian Dance in the 1970s; and Miriah Brenna of Montréal won a $75 gift certificate to lululemon.

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