Toe to toe: York’s Dance Department hosts summer conferences

York is truly Canada’s dance central this summer, as the Department of Dance hosts three regional, national and international conferences in July.

In a preview of things to come, the Dance Department actually launched its season last week when it hosted PULSE, a provincial conference for secondary-school students seeking a chance to work with some of Canada’s leading dance artists. Workshop leaders included Professors Donna Krasnow and Modesto Amegago; contract dance faculty members Megan Andrews (BFA ’93, MA ’01) and Alex Cilic (BEd ’98, BFA ’98, MA ’00); adjunct Professor Menaka Thakkar (DLitt ’93); master’s student Troy Emery Twigg; and a slew of York alumni. York dance professor Mary-Elizabeth Manley was the departmental liaison and on-site manager for the conference.

Right: Peggy Baker was the keynote speaker at PULSE

But the dance conference season gets a real toe hold in two months.

From July 14 to 16, Living Ritual: World Indigenous Dance Festival brings together scholars, teachers and dancers to explore indigenous dance traditions from Canada and around the world. The national event’s artistic director is dancer-choreographer and York alumna Santee Smith (MFA ’04). Many prominent aboriginal performers will showcase their talents, including Raoul Trujillo, Tewa Dancers and Singers of the North, Le-la-la Dancers, Earth in Motion Dance, Daystar/Rosalie Jones, and Smith’s company, Kaha:wi Dance Theatre.

Hard on the heels of the Living Ritual conference comes the World Dance Alliance Global Assembly 2006, the pinnacle dance conference of the year, July 17-21. Held in North America for the first time, the event draws together dance artists and scholars from more than 20 countries who will discuss, lecture and perform around the theme Dance/Diversity/Dialogue: Bridging Communities and Cultures.

Left: Jorge Amarante company from Argentina

Organized by York dance Professor Mary Jane Warner, the World Dance Alliance features many York faculty and alumni. Highlights include midday and evening performances open to the public, a spectacular outdoor opening ceremony featuring circle dances, and vertical dance performers rappelling down the side of a building.

From July 23 to 27, York is co-hosting, with Canada’s National Ballet School, the Council of Organized Researchers for Pedagogical Studies de Ballet International conference. York Dance Department Chair Penelope Reed Doob is an honourary member of the organization, and Professor Claire Wootten previously served on CORPS de Ballet International’s board of directors. Wooten is currently assisting with the local arrangements for the conference.

This article was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena, publicist in the Faculty of Fine Arts.