Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Thank You!

We've said it before, but really, I don't think there's a limit on how many times you can say thank you. So we're saying it again and again.

Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you to the dancers and musicians whose artistry brought us joy, a sense of amazement, beauty, and lots to think about.

Thank you to audience members who showed up in studios, parks, theatres, and even at the Old Quebec Street Mall to bear witness to the art.

Thank you to the tech crews and lighting designer who did magic behind the scenes to make the performances magical for us.

Thank you to LIND design, who created such enticing promotional material.

Thank you to Barking Dog Studios, who helped salvage many a latenight website error!

Thank you to Anne Monkhouse, bookkeeper extraordinaire, for keeping us straight.

Thank you to Ashley Renee Photography and Emmanuel Skretas, for documenting our events.

Thank you to the many volunteers who did everything from handing out programs to serving beverages to loading up vans with tech equipment.

Thank you to the Guelph Dance Board of Directors who continue to guide us through the whole process.

Thank you to our partners who complemented our Festival in so many ways: Exhibition Park Neighbourhoood Group, Hanlon Creek Neighbourhood Group, Guelph Fab 5, RTO4, CanDance, and Visit Guelph.

Thank you to our funders: Department of Canadian Heritage, Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Trillium Foundation, City of Guelph, The Guelph Community Foundation, Community Fund for Canada's 150th, the Good Foundation, and the Rotary Club of Guelph-Trillium.

Thank you to our many sponsors, who are all listed below. With the help of media sponsors Intrigue Media, the Guelph Mercury Tribune, and CFRU, we were able to get the word out about all the amazing offerings of the 19th Annual Guelph Dance Festival. Of course, all of the sponsors contributed greatly in making our Festival the success it was.

Surely I've forgotten someone.

Which is why I'll continue to say thank you again and again.


Friday, 2 June 2017

Halifax and Guelph Youth = 40 Young Dancers in a Powerful Performance

The In the Park series this year includes a collaborative performance by the Young Company of Halifax Dance and the Guelph Youth Dance Company. We asked Gillian Seaward-Boone, one of the rehearsal directors from Halifax, to tell us more about the piece and the process that brought it together.

In the Park takes place Friday, June 2, 6 pm (Hanlon Creek Park), and Saturday and Sunday, June 3-4, 12 pm (Exhibition Park).

Detailed information: 

It's hard not to be excited by the energy of nearly 40 young dancers in a studio throwing themselves into a dynamic and fastpaced choreography, especially when you have three short days to complete the work. On top of that, add the buzz of two groups from different provinces finally meeting face-to-face after weeks of texting and emailing, suddenly living together for 5 whole days. The first chapter of the exchange between the Guelph Youth Dance Ensemble and Halifax Dance's Young Company was exhilarating, exhausting and wonderful.
Our two performance groups were brought together through an exchange with Experiences Canada, an initiative of Canadian Heritage that looks to provide Canadian youth with exchange programs that will broaden their understanding of their community, local and national heritage and culture. Our goal was to build a work that they could perform together at the Guelph Dance Festival this spring. Serendipitously, Mocean Dance (a professional dance company based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia) had just celebrated its 15th anniversary season in September with a piece entitled 15 for 15 that featured fifteen choreographers creating one minute mini choreographies for fifteen dancers at a time. The end result was a huge success. So my co-director, Sara, and I wondered what would happen if we transformed the vignettes and placed them on 40 bodies moving at once? What resulted was Together We Rise.

Through a magical residency weekend at Ross Creek Centre for the Arts in Canning, Nova Scotia, we began to build a colossal body of work in a very short amount of time. Since the original Mocean piece involved fifteen different choreographers, most of whom are Canadian, we were able to educate the group on the Canadian dance community around them and teach them about some key players in the landscape. We adapted sections to make room for such a 
large group and we expanded sections to fill the outdoor space they would eventually perform in. Janet, Sara and I watched as our students worked together tirelessly to create something so exciting and so fun that it gave us
goosebumps. Imagine the power of forty dancers vocalizing as loud as possible. Imagine the actual wind they generate when they run through the space together. Imagine the level of concentration it takes to stay focused with forty people in a studio! To say we were proud of them would be a gigantic understatement. The end result is a piece that somehow showcases each dancer's individuality while moving as a cohesive team all at once. It's extremely accessible, playful and poetic.

We have missed our Guelph friends over the past few months, but the anticipation of finally having our groups together again grows every rehearsal. It's going to be a memorable weekend and we can't wait to share this journey with you!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Throwdown Collective: 'Where ideas bounce around easily and spark new ones'

As Throwdown Collective prepares to take the In the Studio stage this week at the 19th Annual Guelph Dance Festival, we took a few minutes of their time to find out more about what it’s like to be part of their Collective.

Founded in 2008, the Toronto-based trio is a contemporary dance company that supports the collaborative creative pursuits of founders Zhenya Cerneacov, Mairéad Filgate and Brodie Stevenson. Creating both site-specific and stage work, the collective have created three site-specific commissions for Dusk DancesOne Couch (2009), Boxset (2011),  and 1981FM (2013), all of which went on to tour with the festival and beyond, throughout Ontario, to Trois-Rivières, Quebec; & Vancouver, British Columbia.

The group performs Wednesday, May 31, 7:00 pm; Thursday, June 1, 8:00 pm; and Friday, June 2, 8:00 pm at 42 Quebec Street, Guelph. A talkback follows the Thursday performance. A reception follows the Friday performance.

Scroll to the end to catch some video of the group in action!

Ticket information:  

What is the Throwdown process like?

Mairéad: For the most part it is really a lot of fun! From the beginning we have had great chemistry as a group. We share a sense of humor and similar values around how to work and what kind of work we are interested in. We talk a lot about the work of other artists and what we connect to and don’t. When we’re working we have found a great flow together where ideas bounce around easily and spark new ones. When we’re in work mode we’re all very engaged and excited about the work. The process of making together also feels like a huge relief from working as a solo choreographer. Because we are all invested equally the process feels very supportive, and when it comes down the nitty-gritty of getting things done we divvy up the work and use each other as sounding boards when we need it. We always make decisions together which takes a little longer but feels good in terms of us all being equally invested. And when there is a crisis (we’ve had a few) its so much better not to have to go it alone. What I might cry over if I were solely responsible, we end up laughing about together most of the time. We have our challenges as in any collaborative working situation but three seems to be a good number in terms of neutralizing things and for the most part things roll off our backs and we get back as quickly as possible to the task of doing the work.

How do you pull a piece together?

Brodie: In general, we propose movement ideas and then improvise with these ideas to mine them for anything that we might consider physically exciting or dramatically compelling.  Once we have identified phrases, images or ideas that we would like to go back to we begin to experiment with how best to reconstruct them, either through creating and learning a phrase of movement or by refining an improvised score that is specific enough to get us back to the original image or movements we first liked.  From there, we begin to stitch together our ideas and phrases to begin creating a pathway through our movement ideas and to find an over-arching build or logic to all of the material. This part of the process involves a lot of trial and error and often continues on even after the piece is close to finished. The entire process is collaborative so we are always discussing and evolving what it is we are working towards and what we hope it will read as in front of an audience.

What is the difference between working just the 3 of you vs. working with an outside choreographer?

Zhenya: Working with an outside choreographer is a much simpler process. We only have to worry about our tasks as dancers and following instructions from the choreographer. In a collective structure, we are dancers and co-choreographers at the same time. As co-choreographers in our own work, we have both the perspective of a dancer within the work, as well as the outside perspective through the use of video footage. We use both perspectives to explore, perfect and refine our choreographic material.

Through extensive communication, we voice our individual interests in the various aspects of the material that we're working on. We listen to each other's ideas and interests, then we come up with a common set of notes, tasks and suggestions for ourselves to execute as dancers.

Monday, 29 May 2017

A Dance Journey Continues: Michele Green and Suzette Sherman

Michele Green, who has been collaborating with Suzette Sherman this season on new work, offers this latest instalment of her journey in dance. You can read her previous blog posts here and here.

Michele and Suzette perform On the Stage, Saturday, June 3, 8:00 pm at the River Run Centre. Tickets:


 Along with teaching the duet, we left time for discussion. We felt that the dancers might be interested in hearing about our careers and perhaps had questions we could answer. However, that seed of doubt resurfaced again within me. How could my varied past within the dance community compare to Suzette's illustrious performance centered career?

Well, let's see. As I began thinking of the past, I realized that between the two of us we had amassed a staggering 90 years of professional dance experience -- well over 100 if amateur training/teaching was added in. Even I was impressed with that number. We had only worked together for a little over one year of that time, so the variety of experiences was overwhelming.

I wrote down a list that began in 1971:

  • professional dancers in four companies
  • international touring
  • co-founder of a professional dance company
  • experience working with international choreographers
  • teachers, mentors, choreographers
  • teacher/director of professional training program
  • founder/director of dance studio
  • assistant to the choreographer for companies worldwide
  • writer of dance related articles/book

Maybe we could answer a few questions.

In April, as part of Suzette’s residency, we presented a couple demonstrations for local seniors’ residences. The program involved a ‘warm-up’ demonstration, short history, introduction of the trio of pieces we now called Three Musical Reflections, a performance of the two solos (Suzette) and the duet, and a discussion to answer questions.

Suzette and I put aside time to create the 11-minute warm-up and were thrilled when Adam Bowman, the talented  percussionist for studio classes, offered to make a sound track for us to use. The warm-up became a little dance of it’s own and we rehearsed it as we would a number. We also worked on the back-and-forth conversation that would become a 10-minute history of our dance experience and friendship.

Our first  first seniors’ demonstration in the studio to ten seniors from nearby Norfolk Manor turned out to be worthy of all our preparations. The seniors were engaged throughout. Even when a roaring thunderstorm darkened the sky and rain pelted the windows they kept their attention riveted to our dancing and talking. Afterwards they asked some interesting questions while enjoying cookies and juice. Surprisingly there were more men than women in attendance and one gentleman said he was very moved by the dances and thanked us profusely for presenting them.

In response to questions, Suzette briefly explained the history of ‘modern’ dance from its roots with Martha Graham to David Earle’s current interpretation. It was not the type of dance they had expected to see and they had been pleasantly surprised. Several people asked us if we had ever heard of square dancing, the style of dance they were most familiar with. Their efforts to relate the experience to their own lives was touching and gratifying.

As with many of the workshops, rehearsals and demonstrations, Daniel Robinson videotaped portions that would be pieced into a documentary of Suzette’s festival residency (here's the link to the finished video:

It was an enjoyable and fulfilling hour and we looked forward to a similar presentation in May at The Village by the Arboretum’s assisted living building.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Q&A with Belinda McGuire

Belinda McGuire, whose stunning photo graces our Festival poster this season, took a few minutes to answer some questions about her upcoming performance at On the Stage, Saturday, June 3, 8 pm. We recommend getting your tickets to this show ASAP, as they're selling fast! 

GD: Belinda, why did you make the piece you'll be performing at the Festival?

I commissioned Sharon B. Moore to make Anthem for the Living as a part of “The Heist Project,” which included two other solo works by other choreographers, danced by me. I was driven to immerse myself in work that is meticulously imagined and designed, but ultimately brought to life or achieved through necessary spontaneity in response to the unfolding action. Sharon’s work built a perfect arena for this exploration.

GD: How long did it take to make Anthem for the Living, and what was the studio process like?

We broke ground on Anthem in early 2009 and continued working in 1-3 week-long intensive creation periods every few months until the piece premiered in 2011.  In between the creation periods, I rehearsed on my own whatever material already existed.

GD: How does your piece relate to cultural trends or other works of art or current events or history?

One colleague, upon seeing a run of the work in rehearsal, said something to the effect of “she is every man and every woman and every child.”  It’s also about life and death - two things that, of course, we all face.

GD: What is something you'd like to tell the audience about your piece that they won't be able to find out in the program?

I don’t think there’s anything else they need to know. I’d be happy to talk about it with anyone afterwards, but it doesn’t need any preamble.

GD: Why is dance important to you? Why should it be important to others?

Movement can be an immediate, visceral, complete and efficient form of communication. It’s a powerful and compelling tool to wield and also to behold as the audience.  Not always, of course… like any case of craftsmanship, it needs to be applied in the right way, in the right context with the right intentions, but even still things can go awry.  I’m trying to say that dance has had a huge impact on me (as an audience member), so my artistic mission is to make more opportunities for potentially impactful work to be created and performed for others.

 above and top: Belinda McGuire; choreography: Sharon B. Moore; photo by Jubal Battisti

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Choreographer Kevin A. Ormsby on “FACING Home: Love and Redemption”

Kevin A. Ormsby and his company KasheDance (Toronto) will be performing at our three In the Park shows on Friday, June 2, 6 pm at Hanlon Creek Park, and on Saturday, June 3, and Sunday, June 4 at 12 pm at Exhibition Park. The piece the company will be performing is “FACING Home: Love and Redemption,” co-choreographed by Kevin and his colleague Christopher Walker. We asked Kevin to tell us more about the piece and about his work with KasheDance. What you’ll read here will shed light on the work you’ll see during the Festival.

Thoughts on Dance in An International and Provincial Context 

The speech was written at an event hosted by KasheDance and the previous Lt. GG of Ontario –Michael Onley at the Lt.GG Suite at Queens Park.

As Artistic Director of KasheDance and Co-Choreographer of “FACING Home: Love and Redemption,” my story is like that of many Ontarians. The stories of immigration fostering change, fuelling industries, lives and the demographics of Ontario; it is for me the movement of Diasporas, the dance and cultural sensibilities that informs my work. I have to understand this relationship as an artist in relationship to indigeneity and the indigenous peoples of this land which we as settlers call Home.

KasheDance creates its works in sensitivity to the international influence indicative of the city, province and country I have come to call home. Dance possesses more than the physical capacities that it has come to be known for. It is a catalyst not only for expression but also for understanding, civic engagement and social activism. In providing a space for expression, dance transcends into the hearts of its practitioners and its viewers to highlight our culture, society and inner being. It can at times, with the aide of other mediums unite form, content and context, which leads to unique perspectives of who we are as a people. The power of the art form in Education, Community and Social enterprise highlights possibilities for engaging stories, empathy, inclusion and diversity; important characteristics I believe, required by our consciousness and humanity. It supports creativity, imagination and ultimately innovation.

Dance is a human expression seen in and through the historical depictions of time and in Ontario, dance is an ever-present reality of our province. Internationally, dance in Canada offers many examples of this country’s lasting impressions to the world. Ontario is a gateway to many artists’ adjustment in Canada. Many cultures live here and the smorgasbord of international cultural expressions makes dance in Ontario filled with untapped riches for further exploration, collaboration and appreciation. KasheDance is passionate without a doubt about the possibilities that lie in the conversations of cultural influence at the crossroad. As we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, Ontario and Canada are poised for such focused and progressive conversations because dance is one of those catalysts for the engagement of civic societies of the contemporary future. The boundaries then, of cross-cultural engagement steeped in local and international experiences, places the arts in Ontario at the forefront of cultural potential and currency. 

As a creator, I choose not to forget the contributions made by many cultures, ethnicities, races and also persons from international boundaries on the Arts in Ontario.  Such international and local influences have supported the socio-cultural, artistic and economic milieu of Ontario. Dance moves, it ignites, creates potential, insurmountable possibilities for civic and cultural progression. Notwithstanding, civic engagement and community building. Said community-strengthening starts here with the presentation of many artists from diversity backgrounds at the Guelph Dance Festival. 

We had a few more questions for Kevin.

Why did you make the piece you'll be performing at the Festival?

Three years ago Chris Walker (co-choreographer) and I embarked on separate creative research projects. Kevin was investigating the global impact of Marley’s music, while developing a movement language for his company rooted in Jamaican/Caribbean language of the body. Chris had been doing research on contemporizing Caribbean dance and was invited to work on the project with KASHEDANCE as dramaturge/co-choreographer, with a focus on translating the history, philosophy and cultural information embedded in the movement vocabulary. During this same period, Kevin provided artistic support for Chris’ research project, “A Yard Abroad” which evolved into “Fac­ing Home: a phobia.” This project investigated the potential that dancehall and urban popular movement vocabulary has, as language, to engage in conversations around the stigmas of homosexuality and homophobia in Jamaica and the ability to rise above. We recognized the conversation that both projects were having with each other and decided to combine and collaborate to create Facing Home: Love & Redemption.

Over three years, our process included interviews, community discussions, feed­back sessions, movement development workshops, performance workshops with audience talkback sessions, conference presentations and publications on process and project, and curated performances of excerpts. We wanted to dig deep into the consciousness and value system that informed Marley’s work and explored movement vocabulary steeped in the cultural nuances of dances of the Caribbean. In copying tradition we used synchronicity in the choreography. Traditions of masking and subversive texturing also reflect the realities of living as LGBTQ in the Caribbean and in many cases, where Caribbean cultures migrate. Queer Caribbean bodies morph as they are often forced through machinations to get through the day - these expressions provide a dance language palette suited to our curiosities about having contemporary physical conversations with the past, present and future.

Bob Marley’s music galvanized generations with sentiments like “Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights” —“I wanna love you and treat you right, I wanna love you everyday and every night” — “Eman­cipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds - “you can’t run away from yourself” —“Africa unite” —”No woman no cry” — “I say fly away home to zion “ — “Exodus, all right! Movement of Jah people!” — “One love, one heart.” This contemporary dance concert investigates the global impact of his music and his message—its expression of humanity’s struggle and inspiration toward love, redemption and hope—and the simultaneous, deep-rooted homophobia in Jamaican/West Indian Culture that results in, for many, a forced exodus from their country and the reconstruction of their identi­ties as a means of survival.

“FACING HOME” is meant to impact migrant populations, generate change and ignite the LGBTQ commu­nity, it’s supporters, and service workers everywhere it’s performed and beyond. We hope, with this work, to initiate an ongoing conversation with you and provide spaces for the LGBTQ narratives of displacement from home.

What was the creative process like?

The piece involved a creation / exploration phase, second phase creation process and then a production phase both in Toronto and Madison, WI. Given it was a bi-national work we spent many time over social media and technological platforms discussing, documenting and rehearsing the work. Research also occurred in Jamaica and New York between the choreographers and in Toronto and Wisconsin with the dancers and lighting designers.  The company is steeped in creation, research and presentation and so we demanded that every artist be invested where the research facilitated the creation and then how those elements could and would be shaped in presentation. All our work requires this framework of artistic engagement by our artists. The investment they have made in the processes been the most humbling experience. The process has been long, emotional and transformative. We had to ground and be psychologically conscious of not just our sexually identified but also heterosexual cast members as well.

How does your piece relate to cultural trends or other works of art or current events or history?

I would be curious to hear from audience members, presenters and participants what and how they think this piece is relevant. Our diversity framework as a company has always been reflective of the Jamaica in which both co-choreographers grew up and still practice. It’s about the diversity of not just the techniques from which we create but also the artists with whom we create with. It’s live experience that one-day Canada will come to appreciate and understand fully. We are a contemporary company forged in the interplay of many dance techniques, rooted in the African Diaspora.

What is something you'd like to tell the audience about your piece that they won't be able to find out in the program?

Dear Audience Members, 

The work you will experience is created with the sensibility that you too are experts in what you see and feel! 

You BREATHE, FEEL, and in turn DANCE. (KasheDance’s Philosophy)

Your thoughts, emotions and expressions during the work is equally important to it.

Dance and the Arts can change society…it starts with you.

Every nuance, look, smile, is rich with the celebration that you are here with us. 

Our last piece “ONE" was written as a speech by Haile Selassie's address to the United Nations, 1963.
Then made popular by Bob Marley, the version you hear is by a Caucasian Jamaican. 

If indeed as Alvin Ailey say "dance came from the people and it should be given back to the people” If so,

Then “ this is my message to you oo oo” - Bob Marley

Hoot, Holler, Let us know that you are moved by what you experience; it’s a small portion of what we want to give back to you 

You mean the world to us because we are the world right here, right now…

Why is dance important to you? Why should it be important to others?
I feel the speech at the beginning speaks to this and now we have gone the full circle of life…

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Five Co-Directors. One Collective: OURO

OURO Collective member Dean Placzek shared his thoughts on what it’s like to be part of this unique Vancouver-based dance collective. OURO performs at our In the Park series: Friday, June 2, 7 pm at Hanlon Creek Park and Saturday and Sunday, June 3 and 4, 12 pm at Exhibition Park. PLUS – for teen dancers, they are teaching a workshop using their approach on Sunday, June 4, 9:30 am.

Take a look at the video posted below to get a taste of how they work.

OURO Collective here.  We just like to start by saying we are delighted to be a part of the Guelph Dance Festival and look forward to sharing PACE  with audiences at the festival.  While we look forward to hearing people’s reactions to our show, we’d like to take this opportunity to give you a bit of a behind the scene’s look at what it’s like to work within the collective. 

So what’s it like?
Well, imagine yourself as a creative individualWith five heads. All trying to create the same thing with radically different ideas.

We strive to meet the true essence of a collective where everyone has a say in the direction of the work. There isn’t one main director, but instead five co-directors.  Every idea is considered and tried out. We feel that you never know if something is good or not until you actually try it out and put it to the test.  It also allows us to consider some ideas that on an individual level we would never have thought of.  Given that we all come from different dance backgrounds, we can get a wide variety of ideas be they from waackinghip hop, contemporary, or breaking.  We then take these ideas reshape and rework them with the context of the various styles we work with. We might create a breaking combo utilizing waacking arm movements as inspiration, or a contemporary phrase with the feel of popping movement aesthetic.  Not only has this allowed us to create many new and interesting movements, but it has also fundamentally changed the way in which many of the collective’s members approach dance.  Many of us no longer consider ourselves simply a “waacker” or a “bboy.” We are practitioners of movement and most would just consider ourselves dancers.

While it’s extremely rewarding to have this freedom, it does have its challenges. With five co-directors, we have a lot of ideas but that can mean we also have the burden of choice. A lot of what we create just ends up unused and saved for some mystery performance in the future.  One other challenge is that while it’s great having many ideas and many contributors, it can also get crowded with ideas and direction.  We sometimes explore random tangents to see what’s possible but this leads to longer development times for our shows. It can be difficult to keep things flowing and we often catch ourselves on these tangents and try to steer it back on track. Since we all have different specializations, it can also be difficult to keep it interesting while finding movement that works for everyone. Ultimately, we resolve these challenges largely through everyone having an open mentality towards movement.

We also truly enjoy trying to find weird and abstract movements and try as much as we can to let our personalities shine through in the shows. While it’s important for our collective to produce interesting and thought-provoking work, it’s also important that we convey the essence of dance that is in all of us. That simplicity of movement and enjoyment in the moment while always striving to maintain connection with the audience and with each other is something we try to incorporate in all of our work.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Local Dancer Focus: Guelph Dance interviews Heather Finn

Heather Finn is a Guelph-based physiotherapist who is also a life-long dancer. She will be performing in Suzette Sherman's new work "Falling into Footsteps" at the On the Stage performance, Saturday, June 3, at 8:00 pm. Suzette's appearance with her company is a much-anticipated event, and hearing Heather speak of working with her makes it even more so! Tickets are available online at the River Run Center box office or by phoning 519-763-3000.

Rehearsal photos below by Ellen Snowball.

GD: Can you tell us more about your background in dance?

HF: I took my first dance class in a church basement in Elmira at age 3. I danced with Carolyn Zettel at her studio in Waterloo throughout my childhood years. In university, I studied at McMaster because I could balance my studies with my dance training. I took technique classes at the Centre for Dance, where I first met Janet Johnson, and became a member of the contemporary dance company. The company director Dave Wilson helped us to develop and share our own choreography both locally and at the American College Dance Festival. After I graduated I danced with Hamilton Dance Company (Hamilton) and Caroline Barriere Danse (Ottawa).

GD: What do you do when you're not rehearsing or taking class?

HF: I have three children aged 6, 3, and 7 months, so life is full of little routine and rituals. I will soon return to my work as a physiotherapist, where I use manual therapy, acupuncture, Pilates, and core exercise to help my clients perform at their best, whether they are students, parents, runners or dancers. I serve on the Board of Directors for Guelph Dance and I'm a founding member of Healthy Dancer Canada.

GD: What brings you the greatest joy when you're dancing?

HF: I love how dancing challenges my brain and my body simultaneously, so it requires me to live in the present moment. I love how dancing informs my work as a physiotherapist, giving me a "body of knowledge" I can't acquire by studying an anatomy book. I love spending time with people who love to move. I love that I've been dancing my whole life and there is still more to learn, still room for improvement.

GD: Can you tell us about how special it is to be working with Suzette on this project?

HF: In class, Suzette is a window through which I can clearly see those dancers that danced before me. With this expertise she offers honest constructive feedback, and she is equally generous with her praise when she sees good work. While we have very different movement backgrounds, I love seeing how Suzette's cues intersect with my own understanding of the body.

Working on "Falling into Footsteps" with Suzette has been an opportunity to challenge myself as a performer. Suzette dances with a depth that can fill you with joy or bring you to tears, as the situation demands. Since Suzette's choreography has developed steadily over the course of a year, we have had the opportunity to work with her both on the structure of the piece (to complement the original music by Adam Bowman), the intent of each movement, and on the interactions with each other and with the audience.

GD: What does the dance community in Guelph mean to you?

HF: I moved to Guelph on a beautiful weekend in June 2010. I unpacked a few boxes and then walked over to Exhibition Park, just in time to see the In the Park series! Since then I've connected to the dance community in Guelph in many ways, taking classes at Dancetheatre David Earle, treating dancers at my clinic, working behind the scenes at Guelph Dance, and forming lasting friendships along the way.