Member Spotlight

A monthly series where we shine the spotlight on one of our members.

April 2017: WAREHAUS dance collective
Q&A with Co-Artistic Directors Akeisha de Baat and Megan Hunter

Photo by Santiago de Hoyos

Who are the members of WAREHAUS dance collective? 
WAREHAUS dance collective is Co-Artistic Directed by Akeisha de Baat and Megan Hunter. 

When and why did you decide to start a collective? 
Megan and I, plus former collective member Sofija Polovina, decided to keep our momentum going post graduation from SFU, and got in the studio and began creating.  We were eager to keep going and didn’t want to wait for the opportunities to approach us.

What inspires the work you create?
We are committed to facilitating interdisciplinary projects that can connect artists in different stages of their career. We are passionate about working in process and experimenting with the blending of artistic backgrounds and infusing traditional movement with a contemporary aesthetic. Our vision is to create thoughtful, relevant works to share with different communities both locally and abroad. 

What plans do you have coming up this season? 
This June, WAREHAUS is excited to be heading to Toronto to perform Warp and Weft, choreographed by Vanessa Goodman, at the New Blue Emerging Dance Festival! 

Describe your work in three words:
Expansive, Feminine, and Personal 

If you weren’t in dance or the arts, what career path would you have taken? 
I would most likely have a career in physio therapy or health.
MH: I’m passionate about food and wine, so I would most likely be a chef or sommelier or run a B&B or a cafe somewhere with less rain. 

You are a Dance Centre member because…
… because of all of the access and benefits we receive from being a member. The Small Company Subsidy program allows us work in one of the most beautiful studios in the city at a rate we can afford. We are very grateful for programs like these and like 12mm,  that facilitate emerging artists making work.  

March 2017
Q&A with Olivia C Davies‚Äč

Photo by David C Wong

You work as an independent dance artist, choreographer and collaborator. Can you tell us about your recent collaboration with the visual artist Anne Riley as part of your DanceLab residency? 
OCD: Make space in your life to receive the gifts bestowed upon you. Let go of what no longer serves you. Give back what you can. Working with Anne gave me the chance to look at the way I create from a whole new angle. Together we exchanged stories, poems, ideas, and often we found our conversations circling back to the role of artists in society. An important question came up, does your art save lives? 

What inspires the work you create?
As choreographers, I believe we are transformers of space, place, and time. We are the storytellers of our existence. By sharing stories of transformation, I hope that others may be inspired to reflect on their own personal narratives and be the change they want to see in the world. To me, art is the antidote to the terror that threatens to overtake my Spirit when I pay attention to the sadness and suffering in the world around me.

What plans do you have coming up this season?
OCD: This March, I am co-facilitating Home: Our Way women's writing and movement circles with Sahtu/Dene storyteller Rosemary Georgeson at the Firehall Arts Centre. My piece Crow's Nest and Other Places She's Gone premieres May 7 at the Vancity Culture Lab, as a Dance All Sorts presentation, with an additional show, May 18 at the Evergreen Cultural Centre, Coquitlam. 
Greed/REsolve, a collaboration with Circadia Indigena Aboriginal Arts Collective, will be presented by Vancouver's Queer Arts Festival in June and we expect to expand the production into a dance film titled "Consequence" with youth engagement for 2018.

Describe your work in three words.
Conscious. Meditative. Spell-binding.

If you weren’t in dance or the arts, what career path would you have taken?
OCD: I would have followed my childhood dream of becoming a very important Executive Assistant.

You are a Dance Centre member because… is a fascinating and rich place to call home away from home where dreams becomes reality.

February 2017: OURO Collective
Q&A with members of OURO Collective


Photo by Teppei Tanabe

Who are the members of OURO Collective? 
OC: Cristina Bucci, Maiko Miyauchi, Rina Pellerin, Dean Placzek, Mark Siller, Antonio Somera (when he is in town), and our newest member Braden Penno.

Why did you decide to form a collective?
What started out as a weekly practice between friends, intended to exchange dance styles and influences, became the backbone of our early rehearsals. We realized through these practices that we all shared very open minds when it came to creating from various sources and blending different styles of dance. We wanted to create a positive working environment where all the artists would contribute equally to the work that was being produced and decided to create a collective that would foster that vision.

What inspires the work you create?
We are inspired by each other and each other’s respective dance styles (hip hop, breaking, waacking and contemporary). Engaging with artists from various mediums has also expanded our creative process and has given us new tools to play with for our own creation. Other inspirations for our work has come from photography, visual arts, music, video games, Buddhism, personal experiences and a response to what is happening in our environment.

Describe OURO Collective in 3 words?
Patient, weird, accessible

What are you working on this season?
We are currently working on creating our first full length work, yet to be titled. The new work is giving us the opportunity to expand ideas and movement vocabulary that we have been investigating over the past two years as a collective. The piece will premiere on May 25-26 at New Works @ Night at the Orpheum Annex and will also tour to Japan in July 2017!

If you weren’t in dance or the arts, what other career path would you have taken?
All of us agreed it would be something that would still stimulate our need to be creative and connect and contribute to our community. Some careers that came up: social worker, RMT, game/graphic designer, naturopathic doctor and nutritionist (which one of our members works as when not dancing).

You choose to be a dance centre member because
To become part of a larger arts community and connect with new artists and audiences.

January 2017: Tango Moderna
Q&A with Dan Falk


Tell us a bit about Tango Moderna and the kinds of classes you offer?
We specialize in Argentine Tango - a modern form which emphasizes improvisation and creativity. On Tuesdays we teach group lessons and hold private lessons on Sundays. 

How did you get involved in Argentine Tango?
I began in 2003 along with other dances, mostly Latin. It wasn't until five years later, living in Buenos Aires, Argentina for half a year that I decided to dedicate all of my attention to Argentine Tango.

What draws you to this form of dance?
It's the freedom of and challenge from the dance's improvisation that draws me in, particularly a style referred to as Tango Nuevo, a modern style of Argentine Tango. 

What do you hope your students experience in your classes?
We hope students become just as addicted to Argentine Tango as we have.

How would you describe your classes in three words?
Relaxed, creative & well-explained

If you weren't in dance or the arts, what career path would you have taken?
DF: Besides being an instructor of Argentine Tango, I am also an engineer.

You choose to be a Dance Centre member because...
DF: The Dance Centre is not only a place to rent out studio space; they also support their members through advertising, providing resources, and integrating all their members into a community.

December 2016: Dancinema Productions Ltd.
Q & A with Artistic Director Jen Ray


Jen Ray by Newman Productions
Photo by Newman Productions

What is your relationship with dance and film?
My life has really been a dedication to "Dancinema" before I invented the word out of a necessity to express my vision and communicate with others. Dance & Cinema incorporate many other arts, but I think their most attractive qualities are the endless potential of combinations and their relationships to time, space, memory, technology, and movement. 

What was your inspiration for starting Dancinema?
JR: What I do with Dancinema is inseparable from who I am - it's a vocation realized through continued exploration and development. Dancinema Productions Ltd. has quickly evolved to include a variety of dance/film productions, workshops, and events.

What does Dancinema currently create, offer, and facilitate
Through Dancinema Productions Ltd, I'm involved in creation, curation, education, and engagement with the global community.  Events include: Discover Dancinema Workshops,  CASCADIA Dance & Cinema Festival (Vancouver), CAPITOL Dance & Cinema Festival (Washington), and partnerships with RIFF: Rhythm in Fusion Festival (Dallas) and Taps Alive Festival (Frederick, MD) where I offer "Tapcinema" screenings. Very close to my heart is The JaM Youth Project, a pre-professional tap company with over 60 dancers from 10 states who I work with throughout the year.

Describe Dancinema in three words:
Education, Productions, Events

Tell us about CASCADIA Dance & Cinema Festival.
The Festival grew out of a desire to celebrate quality work, the people who make it, and cultivate an enthusiastic Dancinema community here in Vancouver. The inaugural Festival in 2016 included short and feature film screenings (60 total!), workshops, "The Meeting of Machines" performances, and a special Youth Program. Join us June 30 - July 2, 2017  for a Dancinephile weekend, stay posted on, and get in touch if you'd like to get involved! 

I am a Dance Centre member because…
The Dance Centre is an important part of Vancouver's dance community.  Whether it's to rent space for events, take class, or attend performances in the Faris Family Studio Theatre, TDC has been a consistent resource through different phases of my career. The views are always great too, from any of the studios and even across the street from this contempo-historic building.

November 2016: Dancers of Damelahamid
Q&A with Margaret Grenier

Dancers of Damelahamid/photo Chris Randle
Photo by Chris Randle

Tell us a bit about your company Dancers of Damelahmid
Dancers of Damelahamid is an Aboriginal dance company that is founded upon over five decades of extensive work of song restoration. The company has produced the annual Coastal First Nations Dance Festival since 2008. The company’s full length dance works have reached national and international audiences and include Setting the Path 2004, Sharing the Spirit 2007, Visitors Who Never Left 2009, Dancing Our Stories 2010, Spirit Transforming 2012, In Abundance 2013, and Flicker 2016.

What inspires the work you create?
I treasure dance as the most significant inheritance I have from my ancestors and it will be a life journey to strive to develop the art form to its potential. For me, dance, song and story have provided a protective environment to address the limitations placed on our Indigenous peoples and create a healing space. We are not only turning to our ancestral knowledge for our own reconciliation but we are sharing and supporting others through our art.

What plans do you have coming up this season? 
We will be celebrating the 10th year anniversary of the Coastal First Nations Dance Festival in March 2017. Our company will also be engaging in collaboration with Karen Jamieson Dance to create the duet, Light Breaking Broken, to be presented at 2017 VIDF and at Native Earth in Toronto, ON.  

Describe your company in three words:
Intergenerational, fluid, vibrant

If you weren’t in dance or the arts, what career path would you have taken?
Rather than a career, I see this work as an inheritance and a gift, therefore in whatever capacity I could, I would always practice dance.

Dancers of Damelahamid is a Dance Centre member because…
The Dance Centre has always been part of the diversity of dance expressions that reflect our communities and has provided an inclusive environment to celebrate and strengthen our art forms. It has been a long relationship for our company that goes back to 2003 and The Dance Centre has been there consistently to support us. 

October 2016
Q&A with Ralph Escamillan

You work as a dancer, teacher, and emerging choreographer, how do you manage your demanding schedule?
An organized planner is my life saver, and I like to know what I'm doing at least three months in advance. I prioritize my mental/physical energy to whatever is in front of me, but also, I'm notorious for micromanaging everything... Also: eating, sleeping and taking care of my body helps support my on-the-go lifestyle.

What set you on your path in a career in dance?
Growing up listening to iconic artists such as Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna and Janet Jackson, I was exposed to the grandeur and the allure of the stage. I've always found comfort in performance and love the need of problem solving that comes with live performance. Finding out about the longevity of contemporary artists, performing at (amazingly) age 60, gave me comfort that if I cared for my body and mind I could create a long lasting career as a performer.

You practice and teach voguing, tell us about this dance form.
Vogue is a street dance form that came from the drag balls of Harlem in an effort to escape the oppression of everyday life and express oneself.

What do you hope your students experience and/or take away from  your voguing classes?
I hope they are able to find confidence in their bodies and to be able to own any room they walk into.

How would you describe yourself as an artist in three words?

If you weren’t in dance or the arts, what career path would you have taken?
RE: I would be either a chef or a fashion designer.

You choose to be a Dance Centre member because…
... Of the amazing support The Dance Centre is able to give to artists who cross all genres, ethnicities, and gender.

September 2016
Q&A with the plastic orchid factory

plastic orchid factory/photo Chris Randle
Photo by Chris Randle

Tell us a bit about plastic orchid factory and your new space Left of Main?
pof: plastic orchid factory is an artist-run, interdisciplinary organization that uses the body as a site for social commentary. Left of Main is our new space in Chinatown at Main & Keefer. It’s dedicated to the creation and development of dance and live arts practices. We are partnering with MACHiNENOiSY and Tara Cheyenne Performance.

What inspires the work you create?  
pof: Not knowing. Diving into something that we don’t understand intuitively. Taking risk. Trusting process. Devising stuff. Working with other people. Including other practices. Embracing paradox. 

Describe your company in three words: 

What’s coming up for you this season? 
pof: Premiere of Digital Folk at SFUW September 21-25. Partnership wth the Contemporary Art Gallery for a Keg De Souza Exhibit at Left of Main showing from Sept-Nov. Premiere ofI Care What You Think, with The Contingency Plan at the Shadbolt Centre, October 19-22. James goes to Montréal to remount Animal Tristewith Mayday for CINARS in November. Early 2017, finish renovations at Left of Main and welcome the 4th member of the gPod (have a baby). Launch the Obstructions Dance Project with Dumb Instrument Dance, MACHiNENOiSY and The Contingency Plan in the Spring. Continue development on Raïna helps Natalie make a solo in the Summer.

If you weren’t in dance or the arts, what career path would you have taken? 
pof: We have taken many career paths throughout our development as artists and we no longer separate these activities from our "dance practice". James has worked as a sous chef and as photographer and Natalie works in arts administration and communications. The work we make and the way we choose to make it is the product of our combined histories, skills and interests.

You choose to be a Dance Centre Member because…
Because we are dance artists living and working in Vancouver.

August 2016
Q&A with Linda Arkelian


Photo by Daniel Conrad

Tell us a bit about your career in dance.
My evolution as a dancer unfolded from classical ballet performance to incorporate a wider array of artistic, kinesthetic, and theatrical genres. Dance amalgamates mind, body, and spirit.Two spirals of creation, one moving from the inner sanctum outward and one moving from the outer world inward, enrich and sustain each other.

What kinds of classes do you offer the dance community?
I offer continuous drop in classes in Advanced Ballet, Beginner Ballet, Contemporary Dance as well as “Bringing Artists Together” events amalgamating dance, music, and visual art.

What do you hope your students leave with after one of your classes?
My goal is for my students to not only to leave class feeling invigorated physically and empowered emotionally, but also to leave with a deepened sense of connectivity bonded with the community of dance.

How would you describe your teaching philosophy in 3 words?
Body, a vessel-of-art.

Tell us a bit about the work you have done with dance on film and why it interests you.
I’ve collaborated on several films which have been screened nationally and internationally. Film enables me to escort the observer on an emotional journey through the work. The viewer sees from many perspectives, sometimes simultaneously and sometimes from behind the performers eyes.

If you weren’t in dance or the arts, what other career path would you have chosen?
For many artists dance functions as a form of psychotherapy and healing; therefore, I would follow the path of a spiritual and psychological healer.

July 2016: Tara Cheyenne Performance
Q&A with Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg

Wendy D Photo of Porno Death Cult 

Tell us about Tara Cheyenne Performance in a sentence? 
TC: Strange and compelling examinations of how we navigate the chaos through text, dance, comedy, pain and image.

Describe your work in three words. 
TC: Talking Dancing Tragic-comedy.

What inspires you to work with text and theatricality in your choreography? 
TC: Text and comedy are like little doors of understanding that invite the audience in. Then the movement/dance/physicalization can exist in that place where words cannot create the layers of meaning or engagement. I also love words and playing with language and how we understand and misunderstand.

If you were not in dance or the arts, what other career path would you have taken?
TC: Sometimes I think I could have been a doctor. I’m fascinated my the body and the potential for healing….But then I think definitely talk show host.

What’s coming up for Tara Cheyenne Performance next season? 
Porno Death Cult will be at the Roundhouse Sept 29th and 30th. empty.swimming.pool. a trio between myself, Silvia Gribaudi (Italy) and musician composer Marc Stewart at Scotiabank Dance Centre as part of the Chutzpah! Festival Feb 16-18. Then, I’ll premiere my new ensemble piece “how to be" at The Cultch April 11-15 2017.

June 2016
Q&A with dance artist Chick Snipper

Who is Chick Snipper in a sentence?
CS: One sentence??? Ok - here goes with one non-grammatical sentence: artist, mother, grandma, friend, colleague, realist, idealist, worrier and the biggest computer luddite this side of the Rockies.

Tell us a bit about your career.
CS: I have been an obsessive participant in the worlds of dance, theatre and film for a long time. The consistent through line has been my artistic drive to learn and grow, to create whenever possible, to teach and coach, to mentor when asked. Without these creative cycles of challenge, connection and expression, my spirit would be ‘lost in space’.

What’s in store for your Dance Centre Artist in Residence next season? 
CS: The participants and I will be engaged in passing on lineage and knowledge from senior to established to emerging dancer then back in a circle of inter generational discourse, using the creation of phase 1 of my new dance Big Melt as the door in. My hope is that the more junior artists will educate and inspire with their freshness and training techniques, while the more seasoned artists will educate and inspire with our experience and awareness. I am at a stage in my own creative development where it’s crucial to let go of (elements of) the old and embrace (elements of) the new in order to be relevant and refine my vision.

Describe your work in three words (or four):
CS: Imagistic, Impressionistic, Emotionally Connected.

If you weren’t in dance, what other career path would you have taken?
CS: I started as a social planner doing community organizing and policy development, naively believing that I could affect change. I’m an avid watcher of BBC news and often wish I had the skills and knowledge to work for Medecins Sans Frontieres. But since I am not saving the world, why not sing, dance and act in Broadway musicals? (Admittedly, a somewhat less heroic alternative).


May 2016: The Biting School
Q&A with co-artistic directors Aryo and Arash Khakpour

The Biting School/photo Sepehr Samimi
Photographer Sepehr Samimi

What inspired the creation of The Biting School?
Creating works that we don't see in the community. We want to talk about the issues that are not discussed - in ways we like them to be discussed.
Arash: The freedom and the restrictions Vancouver offered us, and our experience of where we came from. The Biting School is the result of the clash of our past with where we are now, our attempt to make sense of it, and to deal with it.

Where did the name The Biting School come from?
The name translates the aggression AND the compassion we treat our subjects: with a bite to attack or a love bite. "School" because we have nothing to teach in matters of biting.

Describe The Biting School in three words.
Grotesque, tenacious, vulnerable
Arash: Unknown, colored, bang

What’s it like working with your brother?
When I was a child, I continuously asked my parents to bring me a playmate, a brother, so I won’t be so alone at home. It's absolutely humbling and beautiful that my wish came true especially since Arash stays my playmate to this day.
Arash: It’s pretty much the best thing. It’s challenging and taxing on my brain at times but then I really realize how lazy my brain is - how much I love the brain-pain of figuring things out with him.

If you weren’t in dance, what other career path would you have taken?
Hostage Negotiator (Crisis Negotiator)
Arash: I’d be a non-professional horseback rider because I am too heavy to be a professional one, I think! Then I would probably study psychology to actually make a living.

What’s coming up next for The Biting School?
Aryo + Arash: 
We will be performing Booth Connection at the rEvolver Festival this May and are expanding our piece Cain and Abel in 2017.


April 2016: Polymer Dance

Directed by Miriam Esquitín and Kristina Lemieux, Polymer Dance has been running since 2012 as a contemporary dance performing group and class aimed at non-professional dancers, offering twice weekly classes. Classes, which are two hours in length, are accompanied with live music and consist of progressive technical training, led by qualified dance instructors, and performance preparation in improvisation. The Sunday class, at Hillcrest Community Centre, is aimed at non-professional dancers with little or no previous dance experience and is taught by Miriam Esquitín. The Tuesday class is for intermediate/advanced non-professional dancers with at least three years of experience and is taught by local dance professionals.  

Polymer Dance offers performing opportunities at a mix of traditional and non-traditional venues a few times a year. Performances are in multiple settings, either site-specific, traditional venues, community events or festivals. The performance ensemble will be showcasing a new work as part of the LINK showcase on April 19 and will be hosting their first ever full length Polymer Dance show at the Moberly Arts Centre on June 10.



March 2016: Naomi Brand

Photographer: Marc J. Chalifoux

Naomi Brand is an independent dance artist and writer based in Vancouver. Since completing her MFA in dance from the University of Calgary in 2010, she has cultivated a unique career that spans from working with professional artists to community-engaged work with mixed populations. Recipient of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist AwardNaomi’s artistic practice reflects her values for diversity, spontaneity and the subtleties of the expressive body. Through her choreographies, she strives to make dance within a context that both creates and speaks to the need for community and connection. Her work has been featured in festivals across Canada, as well as in Poland, Italy and Uruguay. Naomi is on the teaching faculty at of the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts and Joe Ink’s Move It! She also sits on the board of directors for The Training Society of Vancouver and is a contributing writer with The Dance Current. Currently, Naomi is an Artist-in-Residence at the Roundhouse, leading a three-year project with the Ageless Dancers, an ensemble of older adults. She is also the co-founder and Artistic Director of the All Bodies Dance Project, an inclusive dance project for dancers with and without disabilities. This spring she is working towards a new production with All Bodies Dance Project and a full evening piece for the Ageless


February 2016: Sujit Vaidya

Photographer Chris Randle

Sujit Vaidya is an independent bhartanatyam performer based in Vancouver.  He has performed extensively in the US, Canada, Europe and India. While Solo work is his forte, he has danced in duet and group productions with companies such as Co.ERASGA and Dakshina Dance.

Sujit’s choreography shines the spotlight on bharatanatyam and re-imagines the context of its traditional compositions. This was reflected in his most recent work Swapna Maya that pushed boundaries in terms of content and presentation. Through his work Sujit aims to elevate the quality of bharatanatyam presentation, creating an appeal to mainstream dance audiences. His urban sensibilities seamlessly juxtapose an art form rooted in tradition; this is what makes his work unique and interesting. Sujit is not afraid of questioning what is usually expected of a male dancer in the classical arts, and has strayed away from the devotional compositions that are deemed appropriate for male dancers, which he finds one dimensional and limiting. His presentations are both risky and risqué, and he often chooses content considered taboo, seeped in eroticism and sensuality.

Sujit will premier The Longing Courtesan, featuring a live musical ensemble, at VIDF March 8 & 9 at The Roundhouse. This piece will be developed and part of a full length work called Eros, premiering November 4 & 5 at the Norman Rothstein theatre. 


January 2016: Helen Walkley

Photography by Chris Randle

Contemporary dance artist Helen Walkley has created, performed and taught throughout North America and Europe for thirty-five years in diverse populations and contexts. Recently, she directed studio research together with composer James Maxwell and dancers Josh Martin and Olivia Shaffer and is moving towards the next development of this work.

There are multiple meanings in any given moment, dependent upon the point of view of the experience. This is the pathos and beauty of our existence and can render any heart and mind tender. It is this which compels me to create my work, and it is with this that I go out the door every morning to meet all the incidents of a single day. Everyone’s story meets— sometimes colliding and careening—in unarticulated moments as simple as being jostled on a crowded bus. This layering and cross-referencing exposes humanity and is heartbreaking and mind opening.

In this sense my work is transpersonal. My story, if you will, is everyone’s story. Through a layering and cross-referencing in my processes there is an energetic transmission through space and time in performance, and each viewer receives his/her own story. Their hearts and minds are touched in a way unique unto themselves, and there is the potential for a sharing of experience. 





Dance Centre Member Spotlights 2015

Dance Centre Member Spotlights 2014