The York Dance Ensemble

The 2012-2013 ensemble performing Rite Redux April 2013. Photo by David Hou.

About the York Dance Ensemble

The York Dance Ensemble (YDE) is the resident company of the Department of Dance.  Since 1988, the YDE has been providing upper level dancers, choreographers, musicians and production crew with pre-professional experience creating, producing, performing, and touring in a company setting.  Students experience a range of performance venues, from galleries, schools and other alternative sites to fully produced shows in the McLean Performance Studio and the Sandra Faire Ivan Fecan Theatre at York University. 

Since its establishment, the YDE has commissioned dozens of new works by leading Canadian and international artists; has restaged classic works celebrating both Canadian and international dance heritage; has toured schools throughout Ontario, New Brunswick as well as Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal; and has launched the careers of scores of outstanding young Canadian dance artists.

The current artistic director of the YDE is Professor Holly Small.  Small is a dance artist, educator, and independent choreographer with a longstanding focus on interdisciplinary collaboration. The 2013-14 season will mark her 15th term directing the YDE.

History of the York Dance Ensemble

In the Ensemble's debut season, founding artistic director Donna Krasnow staged José Limón's classic work A Choreographic Offering. Other historical program highlights have been the Company's premiere of Anna Blewchamp's reconstruction of Canadian dance pioneer Gweneth Lloyd's 1942 ballet The Wise Virgins; a production of The Shakers by American master choreographer Doris Humphrey, restaged by Mary Jane Warner and Barbara Hausler; and the renowned Montréal dance artist Françoise Sullivan’s restaging of her 1948 duet Dualité.

Complementing the Ensemble's commitment to the preservation of modern dance heritage is its ongoing focus on the development and presentation of new work. In recent years, the Ensemble has premiered pieces by Carol Anderson, Julia Aplin, Susan Cash, Denise Duric and Bill Coleman, Matjash Mrozewski, Andrea Nann, Yvonne Ng, Harold Rheaume, Holly Small, Stephanie Thompson, and Luc Tremblay, to name just a few.

Many leading Canadian choreographers have also created exciting new works with the inspiring young dancers of the YDE.  Among them:

  • York University Department of Dance faculty members Carol Anderson, Anna Blewchamp, Karen Bowes-Sewell, Darcey Callison, Susan Cash, Donna Krasnow, and Holly Small.
  • Québec choreographers, including Daniel Bélanger, Harold Rhaume, Jean-Louis Morin, and Luc Tremblay.
  • Toronto choreographers, including Patricia Beatty, Peter Chin, Bill Coleman, Philip Drube, Robert Glumbek, Randy Glynn, Danny Grossman, Maxine Heppner, Terrill Maguire, Michael Sean Marye, Matjash Mrozewski, Andrea Nann, and Yvonne Ng.

The Ensemble has also worked with notable international artists such as Dalcroze Eurhythmics specialists Karin Greenhead (UK) and Gregory Ristow (US),  and American choreographers Daniel Lewis, Phyllis Lamhut, Richard Haisma, Dana Reitz and Peter London.

Artistic Directors of the Ensemble

Donna Krasnow (1988-1990, 1996-1997, 2002-2003)
Anna Blewchamp (1993-1994)
Darcey Callison (1994-1995)
Luc Tremblay (1997 - 1999)
Sara Porter (2000 - 2001)
Susan Cash (2003 - 2011)
Holly Small (1990-1993, 1999-2000,  2001-2002, 2011-2014)


Precious Metals

March 20, 21, 2014 | 7:30pm
March 22, 2014 | 2:00pm

The Department of Dance presents an evening of world premieres by Toronto's Julia Sasso, Marie France Forcier, Holly Small and Montreal's Tentacle Tribe.

Holly Small is the Artistic Director. William Mackwood is the Director of Design

Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre
Accolade East Building
York University | 4700 Keele Street

$20 | $15 Alumni | $12 students/seniors/CADA
Box Office 416.736.5888



Rite Redux

York Dance Ensemble at the AGO

7pm Wednesday February 19, 2014
2pm Sunday February 23, 2014
Walker Court, Art Gallery of Ontario
Included with admission

Presented in association with the exhibition The Great Upheaval: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection 1910-1918, the York Dance Ensemble mounts a reprisal of sections from their 2013 25th anniversary production Rite Redux. For more information: click here.

2012-13 SEASON

In 2012-13 the York Dance Ensemble celebrated its 25th anniversary.  Activities to commemorate this milestone included a much anticipated reunion of Ensemble alumni from the past quarter century, and the creation of Rite Redux, a new presentation of Le Sacre du printemps  (The Rite of Spring), co-produced by the Departments of Dance and Music, and partnered alongside a special topic conference at York U entitled Sacre Celebration: Revisiting, Reflecting, Revisioning presented by the Faculty of Fine Arts with the Society of Dance History Scholars. 

Marking the 100th anniversary of the premiere of the original composed by Igor Stravinsky and choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky, our new version was co-choreographed by faculty members Carol Anderson, Susan Cash, Darcey Callison and Holly Small in a feat of collaboration never before attempted by the Department of Dance in collaboration with faculty from the York University  Department of Music. Former YDE members were invited to “come home” and celebrate with us at the Sandra Faire Ivan Fecan Theatre.

2011-12 SEASON

The York Dance Ensemble’s 2011-12 Season began with a guest appearance by renowned Korean dance artist Mi Young Kim performing a traditional shaman dance for her 60th Anniversary Celebration at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. As our season progressed, YDE participated in the mounting of two MFA Dance candidate productions: Turbulence: a dance about the economy by Shannon Roberts and Miss(ing) Julie by Nancy Greyeyes. 

The season saw us welcome four music majors to the Ensemble, which allowed us to delve deeply into interdisciplinary collaboration.  Early in the New Year, we premiered our ongoing structured improvisation, Suddenly Everyone…  at the Eleanor Winters Gallery, Winters College.  The next incarnation of this evolving collaboration was presented in February in the MFA Dance production Temenos, with the final version premiering in March for the YDE’s showcase Tangled Dances, in the Sandra Faire Ivan Fecun Theatre.

With a long tradition of producing works by our most talented undergraduate choreographers, this year the YDE was proud to feature BFA/BEd candidate Anne Goad’s work It’s Just What You Do, both in its original duet form and as a sextet developed especially for our showcase production Tangled Dances.  We were also thrilled to include a performance by Dance PhD candidate Shae Zukiwsky, who created and performed in an elegant new work for the full company entitled Resistance—also a component of Zukiwsky’s doctoral research. 

In addition to performances presented at York University, the YDE also performed for audiences in Sudbury, Guelph, and downtown Toronto.

Our five-day tour to Sudbury saw the YDE join forces with the earthdancers company for a series of nine sold-out performances to benefit several worthy environmental causes.   The company was received with tremendous enthusiasm.

Since the 2008 inauguration of the MFA program in Choreography & Dance Dramaturgy, the YDE has endeavoured to provide research opportunities for MFA Dance students.  In so doing, in 2011/12 the YDE embarked on a two-week intensive creation period with six First Year MFA students all exploring the theme of dreams, which culminated in the premiere of six new works presented in Guelph at Temple Studios and in Toronto at the Heliconian Hall.


In addition to its performance work within York University's Faculty of Fine Arts, the York Dance Ensemble maintains an active touring program, offering workshops, masterclasses, lecture-demonstrations and performances in schools and community centres. Programs are customized to accommodate the particular interests and requirements of the host organization.

Technical Requirements

For masterclasses and workshops:

  • Level wood or Marley or Rosco dance floor
  • Piano
  • Easy access to change room

For performances:

  • Performance space 36’ wide x 26’ deep
  • Level wood or Marley or Rosco dance floor
  • CD sound system
  • Easy access to change room
  • Basic lighting plot if possible

A minimum 2 hour set-up and 45 min. strike time are required for all performances.

For more information about the YDE's community outreach programs and booking enquiries, contact