Until you decide to travel across Canada, it is hard to understand how vast the territory is. Canada’s history is one of immigration, and displacement, the disappearance of Indigenous cultures and more recently their rediscovery and rise, alongside the many diverse cultures and traditions that migrants have and continue to bring over centuries. We are a country rich in our heritage and our stories, wherein dance is as diverse as Canada’s geography itself. Nationally it reflects the different social, economic, political and historical moments over periods of time into the present and looking to the future.
The subject of dance in Canada is an immense topic and will differ depending on who you talk to, and where in Canada you find yourself. And, while relatively speaking there are not many large cities across its vast geography, there lies in between the urban centres numerous communities where dance is present, plentiful and vibrant.
Alongside the western traditions of classical ballet and modern dance – which rooted themselves across the country a mere century ago – diverse cultures have embedded their dances throughout the land. And excitingly, Indigenous contemporary artists are rediscovering their pasts, weaving their story-telling traditions into their contemporary practices and idioms, and in many cases using their voices to highlight contemporary issues of concern, including righting past wrongs, dealing with the environment and the land, and inviting us to learn from traditional teachings. We can recognize this in the works of Jeanette Kotowich, Lara Kramer and Brian Solomon – a relatively small but strong representation at internationale tanzmesse nrw 2022 which offers a glimpse into how wide-ranging these artistic practices are across the country.
Canadian contemporary dance is an expression of the way of life in Canada today, but also of the varied connectivity of its regions and their dancers to international and national dance hubs. Some communities are quite distinct, some more remote, yet together an eclectic dance landscape has linked our vast geography. Whether embracing the personal stories of Ziyian Kwan (Dumb Instrument Dance) or Rhodnie Désir (RD Créations), the theatricality or interdisciplinary approach of Andrea Peña & Artists, Out Innerspace Dance Theatre, or Adelheid/Heidi Strauss, or the visceral explosiveness of Alexandra Spicey Landé (EBNFLÕH) or Frédérick Gravel (DLD), the ideas are rich and the impact is strong. From established contributors Peggy Baker and Company 605 to newer voices such as Naishi Wang, Vanessa Goodman (Action at a Distance) and Anandam Dancetheatre, we are certain you will appreciate this journey through this remarkable milieu. We encourage you also to discover the dozens of artists who will be present through the Agora as insights into all these original creators will be invaluable.
As curators we carefully considered the specificity of each applicant, the particulars of their region and how these fit into the puzzle called Canadian dance. We strived to offer a portrait of what is Canadian dance today, with an eye to the future emergent voices as well as to those that have written history. We were additionally challenged by the limited number of companies/ artists we could choose, and inevitably there are many who deserve to be seen but were not able to be accommodated. It was a tough process, carefully and respectfully scrutinized in collaboration with the tanzmesse co-directors. Despite all the challenges, we are confident that we have presented an intriguing window into what one could expect to see if visiting Canada to explore dance. We hope you do!
Canada awaits you.
Cathy Levy & Mirna Zagar
Guest Curators, Canada
internationale tanzmesse nrw
Cathy Levy is Executive Producer, Dance at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada. Mirna Zagar is Executive Director of The Dance Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia.
International Market Development Consultant & Strategist
Canadian Association for the Performing Arts