The Yulanda M. Faris Choreographers Program

Yulanda Faris

The Yulanda M. Faris Choreographers Program
July 2017-September 2018

Participating artists: Daina Ashbee | Justine A. Chambers | Vanessa Goodman

About the Artists

Daina Ashbee is an artist, performer and choreographer based in Montreal, known for her radical works at the edge of dance and performance, which intelligently approach such complex subjects and taboos as female sexuality, Métis and Aboriginal identity, and climate change. For the choreographer, creation is an instinctive and quasi-spiritual quest, which embraces her relationship with her ancestors, the universe and the entire cosmos. At the young age of 26, she has already won two awards for her choreographies. Her work has been presented at La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines in Montreal (2015, 2016) and at Montréal, arts interculturels (2014), as well as at the Global Alliance Against Female Genital Mutilation and the Musée d’ethnographie de Geneva in Switzerland (2015). In the fall of 2016, she took part in the Oktoberdans Festival in Bergen, Norway, as well as the SACRED: Homelands Festival in London.

Daina is the artist-in-residence at Agora de la danse in Montreal until 2020. Over the next year, she will present her work at the Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis, in Munich and Potsdam (Germany), at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, among other events. Daina has undertaken residencies and mentorships at Circuit-Est centre chorégraphique, at Montréal, arts interculturels, and at Studio 303 for the creation of Unrelated. In September 2016, she presented a new piece, Pour, in its world premiere at La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines. In November 2016, she was a double prizewinner at the Prix de la danse de Montréal, winning both the Prix du CALQ for Best Choreography of 2015-2016 for her choreographic installation When the Ice Melts, Will We Drink the Water?, and the Prix Découverte de la danse, presented by Agora de la danse and Tangente, for Unrelated.

Born in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Daina Ashbee is a member of the Mid-Island Métis Nation. Introduced to poetry at a young age by her Dutch-born mother, she was also influenced by the superb masks created by her father, a Métis-Cree multidisciplinary artist and sculptor who made her aware of her Aboriginal family heritage and issues relating to the colonialization of Canada’s First Nations. She began dancing professionally with Raven Spirit Dance Society and several independent artists, including Starr Muranko, Tanya-Lukin-Linklater and Rosy Simas, who played a key role in her early development as a choreographer. At the age of 16 she moved to Vancouver with the aim of becoming a dancer. She briefly studied ballet before acting in commercials, film, and television in Vancouver, and even for a while in Los Angeles. Two years later, she gradually returned to dance and to form. She enrolled in the Modus Operandi Training Program in Vancouver, where she studied for three years, while continuing to practise yoga on a daily basis. She then decided to become a choreographer. At the age of 23 she moved to Montreal, where she continues to live and work.


Justine A. Chambers’ interests lie in collaborative creation and re-imagining dance performance. She is drawn to the movement of all bodies, and is focused on the dances that are already there: the social choreographies present in the everyday. Her recent choreographic projects include: Family Dinner, Family Dinner: The Lexicon, Semi-precious: the faceting of a gemstone only appears complete and criticalEnters and Exits, COPY. Justine’s work has been presented by: Agora de la danse, Canada Dance Festival, Dance in Vancouver, Dance Saskatchewan, Dancing on the Edge Festival, New Dance Horizons, The Roundhouse Community Arts Centre, Vancouver Art Gallery: FUSE and the Western Front. She is a founding member of project bk and is currently artist in residence and associate artist to The Dance Centre.

Justine has collaborated on projects with: digital video artist Josh Hite: COPY: a movement based installation, Incoming, Green Boot Print (The Roundhouse Community Arts Centre, Code Lab and; visual artist Evann Siebens on Homemade Again; dance artist Claudia Fancello on Light Was The Night: Night Shifting; musician Ben Brown on We’re Making a Band; visual Artist Brendan Fernandes: The Working Move (The Western Front, The Stedelijk Museum); contemporary Gamelan Composer Michael Tenzer: Sphinx (Tour of Bali 2013); visual artist Jen Weih: Stack of Moves (Wrong Waves Festival 2013); visual artists Marilou Lemmens and Richard Ibghy: Is there anything at all left to do be done at all (Trinity Square Video); dance artist Deanna Peters: One + the Other (The Cultch and New Dance Horizons).

Justine and battery opera’s Su Feh Lee co-facilitate the monthly forum The Talking Thinking Dancing Body; a conversation about aesthetics, context and artistic processes. As a dancer, she has worked with a number of choreographers both nationally and abroad. Including: battery opera, adelheid dance projects, Company 605, Tara Cheyenne Performance, Oded Graf and Yossi Berg, Wen Wei Dance, Mascall Dance. She teaches contemporary dance technique at Arts Umbrella, Working Class, Toronto Community Love-In, Modus Operandi Training Program, Kidd Pivot and Ballet BC. Justine works actively as a rehearsal director with Out Innerspace Dance Theatre, Tara Cheyenne Performance and Ballet BC.


Vanessa Goodman is a Vancouver-based dance artist who creates independently as Action at a Distance, is Co-Artistic Director of The Contingency Plan and is an artistic associate with Small Stage. She received her early training in Toronto from Canadian Children's Dance Theatre, PBJ Dance Projects and Etobicoke School for the Arts. Vanessa holds a BFA from Simon Fraser University and continues her training locally and abroad, including intensives with the Batsheva Dance Company in Israel and the Hofesh Schechter Company in England. Vanessa was the recipient of the 2013 Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award from The Dance Centre which supported her first full-length work, What Belongs to You.

Independently she has interpreted works for Wild Excursions Performance (Conrad Alexandrowicz), Justine A. Chambers, Jennifer Clarke Projects, dumb instrument dance (Ziyian Kwan), the plastic orchid factory (James Gnam), Restless Productions (Claire French and James Maxwell), Mascall Dance (Jennifer Mascall), Julia Sasso, Holly Small and Judith Marcuse. Since 2006 she has been a company member with Dancers Dancing, where she has had the pleasure of working with artistic director Judith Garay and other prestigious Canadian choreographers. 

Vanessa has been commissioned to create works for the Dancing on the Edge Festival, The Gwaii Trust, Vancouver Biennale and the SFU Dance Program (2010/11/13/15). Most recently her work has been presented locally and nationally by The Canada Dance Festival, The Magnetic North Festival, The Dance Centre, Dance In Vancouver, Dances for a Small Stage, The Firehall Arts Centre, The Modulus Festival, The Chutzpah Festival, The Shadbolt Centre for the Arts and Dance Allsorts. Vanessa has facilitated workshops and master classes throughout BC and in Toronto. She is also certified Method PMI Pilates instructor.


About the Program

The Yulanda M. Faris Choreographers Program (YFCP) works to engage, enrich, mentor and support choreographers who are ready to make a leap forward in their careers, by helping them to connect with a wider national and international dance world.

Dance has seen exponential growth in BC in the past decade, along with increased connectivity to national and international platforms, and more exchanges between local artists and national and international collaborators. The YFCP seeks to empower artists who are embarking on developing significant choreographic careers, and will further equip them with necessary skills, knowledge and connections, and the tools to position their careers in a national and international context. While the artists are expected to produce choreographic material, this program is not production-oriented. Rather, it aims to facilitate the contextualization of an artist’s work, complementing their own artistic development and practice, and opening doors to the expedited growth of their career.

The program focuses on:

  • Networking and connections: national and international exchanges enabling artists to increase networks and expand their reach into new markets.
  • Artistic growth: artists will receive space and mentorship for the development of their own creative project and to facilitate the development and crafting of choreographic material.
  • Knowledge and skills development: enhancing artistic and administrative capabilities.

Up to three choreographers are selected by an independent panel of local, national and international presenters and dance professionals through an open call for submissions.The program will run July 2017-September 2018.

While artists are not required to produce a work, it is expected that they will be in creation over the program period and will use the opportunities to support and inform the work, and will share work in progress or a finished piece at the end of the program.

Each artist will receive:

  • Exchange visits to partnering national/international dance organizations, each of which will include some or all of the following: meeting with artists and presenters, building connections, seeing performances, researching each dance milieu, working on their own creations in the studio, sharing their own work formally or informally. The schedule of exchange visits includes:

Canada Dance Festival, Ottawa July 2017
Dance Victoria, Victoria July 2017 and January 2018
B-Motion Festival, Italy August 2017
Dans Brabant, Netherlands August 2017 and March 2018
Circuit-Est/ Festival FTA, Montreal: May 2018

  • Workshops and consultations with Canadian and international experts working in the field on developing key artistic and administrative skills including: dramaturgy, basic lighting design and technical awareness, grant writing, financial planning, budgeting, creating societies, networking, marketing, fundraising, writing about the work, outreach.
  • Studio time at Scotiabank Dance Centre (to a minimum value of $2000)in which to research work, engage in dialogues and receive input from mentors.
  • Technical Labs to support creation and production, offering the opportunity to train with Lighting Designers, Dramaturges, Composers and Visual Artists. 
  • Artists will be expected to engage with the broader community, including professional peers,through open showings of any work in progress, and will have the option of a studio showing at Dance In Vancouver in November 2017, and other opportunities locally.
  • Each artist will complete the program with a media kit which they will be able to use to market themselves to potential presenters and will include video documentation of their work(s). 
  • ‚ÄčEach artist will receive an honorarium. The program covers fees to mentors and consultants, studio time, travel, accommodation and subsistence. As part of the program, artists will be guided through their own grantwriting and fundraising to support and enhance their creations, professional development and travel.


This program is supported through a generous donation by Moh Faris, in memory of his wife Yulanda M Faris.