Shawn Newman

Academic Specialty: Performance, Critical Race and Gender Studies, Film

Biography: Described as “[one] of Toronto’s finest dancers” (Paula Citron, Toronto Life), Shawn has worked in both commercial and artistic ventures as a performer, choreographer, producer, actor, and director. He has danced for some of Canada’s foremost contemporary choreographers including Sasha Ivanochko, Heidi Strauss, and Matjash Mrozewski among many others. Some of Shawn’s own choreographic works include Three Shades of Mood for idDANSE, FEVER for 3M Dances, and Through My Eyes, which premiered in Shanghai, China.

Currently, he is completing his PhD in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University where his dissertation, “Unsettling Hegemonic Whiteness in Concert Dance: Praxis-based approaches in Concert Dance,” examines racial hierarchies in Canada’s arts and culture sector and their attendant nationalist multicultural paradigms. Additionally, other research and teaching interests include dis/ability in performance, popular culture, and jazz cultures in and through black, Indigenous, and trans studies. He has written for The Dance Current and has worked independently as an academic copy editor for various monographs and on special issues of the York-based journal, PUBLIC. His newest research will appear in an upcoming special issue of Theatre Research in Canada/Recherches théâtrales au Canada on Race and Performance in the US-Canada Borderlands. His article, “Racializing Spectatorship: Shifting Contexts, Fixed Perspectives,” examines the ways in which black queer masculinities have the capacity to unravel “Canadian values” of tolerance, acceptance, and diversity through analyzing spectatorship in both concert dance and activist contexts. Shawn teaches in the Department of Gender Studies and the Department of Film and Media at Queen’s and also in the Department of Dance at York University.

Suzanne Liska

Suzanne Liska is a dancer, choreographer, teacher, and researcher specializing in dance improvisation and somatics since 1998. Suzanne has originated in roles for choreographers Rebecca Bryant, Maxine Heppner, Pam Johnson, Karen Kaeja, Susan Lee, Kathleen Rea and Takako Segawa. Suzanne has choreographed and performed works presented by DanceWorks CoWorks, Dusk Dances, Dance Matters, DARK, and Harbourfront Centre. As a company dancer for Kathleen Rea’s REAson d’etre Dance Productions, Suzanne danced in the three times Dora Award nominated “Long Live”. Upcoming projects include co-creations with celebrated dance artists Susan Lee and Takako Segawa, JJ Lee (visual artist), and Sabrina Budiman (videographer).

Receiving Bachelor Degrees in Arts and in Education, Suzanne has been a teacher since 2001. She teaches professional dancers, actors, community dancers, and high school and elementary school students. Her main classes include Conditioning, Somatics (Alexander Technique), Solo, Contact, and Ensemble Improvisation/Composition and advanced partnering. Suzanne has taught workshop intensives for Collective Gulp in Ottawa, CCDC in Calgary, CINN in Tokyo, and Leviathan studio in BC and for Ryerson University, George Brown and Humber College in Toronto. She has been a faculty teacher at the Randolph Academy for Performing Arts College program and a course director in York University’s Dance department.

Funded by a SSHRC award, she received her MFA in Choreography at York University. Investigating Contact Improvisation and the Alexander Technique within the choreographic process, she conducted her research in Tokyo and Toronto.

Areas of Research and Academic Specialty: Contemporary/Modern Dance, Somatics

Personal Website www.suzanneliska.com

Nikolaos Markakis

Nikolaos Markakis

Nikolaos Markakis was first introduced to dance at the Cretan Association of Toronto Knossos, where he studied Cretan Folkloric dance. He was introduced to western styles of dance in high school and followed his passion of movement to York University where he completed his BFA in 2013. Post his undergraduate degree, he has performed and choreographed with Half Second Echo and performed for; Susie Burpee, Valerie Calam, Marie-Josee Chartier, Alison Daley, David Earle, Hanna Keil, Shannon Litzenberger, Tracey Norman and Peter Randazzo. Nikolaos recently completed his MFA at York University where he researched the possibility of hybrid choreography between Cretan Folkloric and Contemporary dance practices. His main objective is to use his two embodied dance recourses in his creative practice to allow an organic approach, and a cultivating environment for his two worlds of dance to live in his choreography. Recently Nikolaos has been appointed to the Board of Directors of CADA-ON.

Jennifer Bolt

Jennifer Bolt

Jennifer Bolt is a dance artist, researcher, and writer working in the areas of performing arts student transition, feminism and critical pedagogy, dance psychology and dancer’s health and well-being. She has trained extensively in ballet, modern and contemporary dance across Canada, United States, England and France. She holds, with academic distinction, a Joint Honours Bachelor of Applied Health Science Degree from the University of Waterloo and Canada’s National Ballet School’s Teacher Training Program with two Associate teaching certifications from the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (AISTD).  From York University she received a Master’s in Dance on perfectionism and PhD in Education on performing arts student transition.

Over the course of her doctoral studies at York University, she won three Ontario Graduate Student Scholarships, the Provost Scholarship and one of four University Wide Research Leave Awards to complete her Canada-wide collective case study on Fine Arts dance majors’ transition from high school to university.  She has presented the results of this research at various conferences including CORPS de Ballet International Conference in Paris, France in 2013 and the inaugural 2016 Leap Transition Conference for dancers and athletes in Toronto.

Based on the results her doctoral research, she evolved an educational model for student retention called PRIMEDTM. Interest from the academic, performing arts, and veteran community, resulted in Dr. Bolt founding PRIMEDTM for Life Educational Consulting—a ground breaking educational consulting business that offers post secondary institutions customized student-centered retention plans to support student transition, health and well-being.  Through this business venture she is currently working with Randolph College for the Performing Arts, Peggy Baker Dance Projects, York University’s AMPD Deans office and Department of Dance, and the Ontario Council of Drama and Dance Educators on several different initiatives based on her educational model.

A faculty member of York University’s Department of Dance since 2001, Dr. Bolt’s has been nominated for two University Wide teaching awards.  Her teaching repertoire includes all levels of contemporary ballet technique, as well as various modern and ballet studio courses for non-majors.  She has course directed both large and small lectures in dance history, dance experience and dance pedagogy. Since 2013 she has taught within the Faculty of Education working with teacher candidates in the consecutive and concurrent Education Program and guest lectured on diverse topics for the MA and Ph.D. programmes in Dance and Education. Dr. Bolt is the former co-director of the Teaching Assistant Program at York University’s Teaching Commons. In her role as an educational developer, she was instrumental in researching, designing and launching Teaching Assistant workshops and resources for the International Teaching Assistant.

Noted in the Toronto dance community for her passionate and detailed teaching style, demand for Jennifer’s teaching expertise has granted her work with Canada’s National Ballet School, the National Ballet of Canada, George Brown College/Ballet Jörgen, Randolph College for the Performing Arts and private dance studios throughout the GTA. As a performer, her powerful stage presence, clean technique and tireless work ethic have afforded opportunities to work with many award-winning ballet and contemporary choreographers including Sashar Zarif and Lucy Rupert. In 2008, she made her choreographic debut with a work entitled Without a Word commissioned by the York University Dance Ensemble.

Evadne Kelly

Evadne Kelly

Evadne Kelly is a dance artist and scholar with a PhD in Dance Studies from York University, an MA in Anthropology from McMaster University, and an Hon. BA in Women Studies, Equity Studies, and Anthropology from University of Toronto. She has presented and published on topics relevant to the fields of anthropology and dance studies with a focus on the political and social dimensions of trans-locally performed dance traditions. Publications of her research can be found in Pacific Arts Journal, The Dance Current, Performance Matters, and Fiji Times. Dr. Kelly was an invited participant of the 2015 Mellon funded Dance Studies summer seminar at Northwestern University, where she developed her book manuscript, Dancing Spirit, Love, and War: Expressing the Trans-Local Realities of Contemporary Fiji, currently under contract with University of Wisconsin Press. Research for her book received support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council doctoral award and builds on her 20 years of professional experience as a company member, teacher, and rehearsal director for celebrated choreographer, David Earle.

Dr. Kelly continues to work in (and advocate for) diverse areas of dance research. In 2016, she co-organized The Other “D”: locating ‘D’ance in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies in Canada, at University of Toronto. In 2017, she co-convened the World Dance Alliance Global Summit at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland, which critically engaged the social, political, and therapeutic aspects of community-engaged dance. Most recently, Dr. Kelly was under contract with the Canadian Museum of History, researching and writing about popular dances of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.

Lisa Sandlos

Keiko Kitano Thomson

A “Masterful choreographer” (Globe and Mail), Keiko Kitano is an independent dance artist with a unique style influenced by her study of Butoh and Japanese dance. She has been a guest artist at numerous festivals, has worked with many artists in Tokyo and abroad. In 2001, she co-founded The Tokyo Dance Collective along with multimedia artist Rick Thomson and composer TAMURAN Music, with the aim of unifying dance, music and multimedia by creating new interactive pieces for dance, media, and music.

A resident of Toronto since 2003, Keiko has collaborated with many local artists such as Parmela Attariwara, Aki Takahashi, Nagata-Shachu, Rick Thomson and others, as well as international artists such as TAMURAN Music and costume designer Shingo Tokihiro. Her choreography has been presented at various venues and festivals. As a dancer, she has worked with many local choreographers including Holly Small, Sashar Zarif, Susan Cash, Maxine Heppner, Viv Moore, and Emily Cheung.

Keiko always enjoys working with artists from different disciplines and cultural backgrounds yet with similar sensibilities. Her interests are in forms of Japanese dance and Butoh both for study and dance  creation. She holds a Master’s degree in Dance, was a full-time faculty for the Japan Women’s College of Physical Education (Dance Major 1991 – 2003) teaching Modern Dance Technique, Improvisation and other various disciplines associated with modern dance. Since 2006, Keiko has been a part-time faculty for the Department of Dance at York University and continues to create and perform around the Toronto area.

She has been excited to be a part of Toronto’s “First Impression Campaign” and looks forward to her upcoming projects in March 2011  with her new solo piece for the Green Tea Collective, a group she co-founded.

Academic Specialty: Performance, Contemporary/Modern Dance

Personal website

Julia Sasso

Julia Sasso

Julia Sasso is a choreographer, teacher, mentor, performer and the Artistic Director of Julia Sasso dances. She began dancing in 1960 in Detroit, Michigan where she trained with Cecchetti ballet master, Rose Marie Floyd. In her teens she was a scholarship student at the American Dance Center (Joffrey Ballet, NYC) and an apprentice with the Harkness Ballet (NYC). Sasso attended York University’s Dance program from 1974-1976. Throughout her professional career she has developed her artistry through ongoing training in the Skinner Releasing Technique (SRT), Improvisation, Authentic Movement, theatre, voice, Pilates, ballet and contemporary dance techniques. 

Sasso performed internationally with Toronto’s Dancemakers (1984-2000) and was Assistant Artistic Director and principal company teacher for a dozen years. She was a featured performer in original works and repertoire by Carol Anderson, Serge Bennathan, Anna Blewchamp, Christopher House, James Kudelka, Bill James, Lar Lubovitch, Tom Stroud and Doug Varone, among others. Sasso has appeared as a guest artist with Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault, Toronto Dance Theatre, Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers and in the work of choreographers, Conrad Alexandrowicz, Sarah Chase, Murray Darroch, Sasha Ivanochko and Claudia Moore among others.

Sasso has created extensively for the concert stage, for theatre, feature film and television. Her choreography has been commissioned and presented throughout Canada, in the United States and abroad by Harbourfront Centre, Canada Dance Festival, Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada, Toronto Dance Theatre, Dancemakers, Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers and DanceWorks, among others. Feature film credits (choreography) include Boy Meets Girl (1998) and The Life Before This (1999). Film treatments of her pieces have been screened on television and at film festivals worldwide. Sasso has created works for all of Canada’s recognized Professional Training Programs (PTPs) in contemporary dance and countless works for The School of Toronto Dance Theatre’s PTP. Independently and as Artistic Director of Julia Sasso dances, Sasso has created, produced and presented five full evening length dance works. NOW magazine nominated Sasso Toronto’s BEST CHOREOGRAHER in 2013 and 2014.

Highly regarded as a teacher of contemporary dance techniques, Sasso has taught internationally at distinguished learning centres including UCLA, Cornell University, Canada Dance Festival, Le Groupe Dance Lab, Peggy Baker Dance Projects, Dancemakers, Volcano Conservatory, Canada’s National Ballet School, Régroupement Québécois de la Danse (RQD), Ryerson and Simon Fraser Universities; in Budapest, Mexico, England, Wales, Scotland, Austria and Germany. An internationally Certified Teacher of the Skinner Releasing Technique™, Sasso is a core faculty member (since 1995) in the School of Toronto Dance Theatre’s PTP and (since 2006) teaches in the Department of Dance at York University.

Sasso has received awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Chalmers Foundation, Laidlaw Foundation, Metcalf Foundation, John McKellar Foundation, Dancers’ Transition Resource Centre (DTRC), Skinner Releasing Institute, York University, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Royal Winnipeg Ballet PTP, Joffrey Ballet, Harkness Ballet and The Cecchetti Council of America.

Sasso is currently engaged as Artistic Associate with Forcier/Norman (DanceWorks/NextSteps) and as a creative collaborator/performer with Sore for Punching You/Allison Cummings.

Julia Sasso is recognized as “one of the foremost dance artists in the country.” – The Dance Current

An established choreographer, performer, master teacher and artistic mentor, Julia Sasso began dancing in 1960 in Detroit (USA) where she trained with Cecchetti ballet master, Rose Marie Floyd. In her teens she was a scholarship student at the Joffrey Ballet School (NYC) and an apprentice with the Harkness Ballet (NYC). Her artistry has been shaped by curiosity, investigation and investment and continues to evolve through ongoing training in the Skinner Releasing Technique™, Improvisation, Authentic Movement, theatre, voice, Pilates, ballet and contemporary movement techniques.

Sasso performed internationally with Toronto’s Dancemakers (1984-2000) and was the company’s Assistant Artistic Director and principal teacher for a dozen years. She was a featured performer in original works and repertoire by Carol Anderson, Serge Bennathan, Christopher House, James Kudelka, Bill James, Lar Lubovitch, Jean-Pierre Perreault and Doug Varone among others. She has appeared as a guest artist with the companies of Toronto Dance Theatre, Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers, blackandblue dance projects and the Contemporary Civic Ballet (USA) among others and in the work of notable independent choreographers including Sarah Chase, Murray Darroch and Claudia Moore. “one of perhaps a dozen contemporary modern dancers in Canada who is simply breathtaking in motion.” –The Ottawa Citizen.

Sasso continues to perform in the works of others as well as her own, and has choreographed extensively for the concert stage as well as for feature film, theatre and television. Her choreography has been commissioned and presented throughout Canada, in the United States and abroad by Harbourfront Centre, the Canada Dance Festival, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada, DanceWorks, Dancing on the Edge, Toronto Dance Theatre, Dancemakers, Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers, Workshop Foundation and Monika Laszlo (Hungary), Gearshifting Performance Works, Crooked Figure Dances, Four Chambers Dance Projects, HOWDARESHE productions, Contemporary Civic Ballet, du Maurier World Stage, Tarragon Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, Theatre Centre, Factory Theatre, Dancers for Life, Peterborough New Dance and Edward Day Gallery among others. Her contribution to professional theatre and concert dance has been acknowledged with eight Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations. Sasso has created choreography for all of Canada’s professional contemporary dance training programs and since 1995 she has created numerous pieces for The School of Toronto Dance Theatre’s PTP where she is a faculty member.

SPORTING LIFE was commissioned by the CanDance Network in 1995 and was presented in Ottawa and Toronto. In 1998, Sasso was the Canadian commissioned by the PanAmerican New Creation series (a series of international co-productions between Canada, Mexico and the United States) and created MAA for a company of interpreters from all three countries. Co-commissioned by Harbourfront Centre, the Canada Dance Festival and nightswimming in 2002, Beauty was Harbourfront Centre’s first dance commission in more than a decade. Sasso has collaborated on a number of projects with the developmental theatre company nightswimming including Brian Quirt’s stage adaptation of Jane Urquhart’s, The Whirlpool (2000), Beauty (2003), Andrew Massingham’s award winning solo show Rough House (2005) and the betrayal project (2006).

She created choreography for the Volcano/Art of Time Ensemble’s award winning production of Mauricio Kaegel’s,Variété in 2004. In 2005 she trained and coached the company and created movement for Peter Hinton’s acclaimed production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada. In 2009 Sasso choreographed and directed Túl a folyón (Beyond the River). An international co-production between Hungary, Slovakia, Canada and Czech Republic, the full-evening length work for two dancers and an actor premiered at Hungary’s National Dance Theatre (Budapest) and in Bratislava, Slovakia later that year. Sasso created choreography for the feature films, Boy Meets Girl (1998) and The Life Before This (1999). Film treatments of her pieces SPORTING LIFE, DUST, SCHMERZEN (IN THE HOTHOUSE) and It was like this have been screened on television and at film festivals world wide. She created choreography for the hit HBO television series, Queer as Folk.

Julia Sasso dances was established and incorporated (as THE DANCE CREATION GROUP) in 2000 as a project-to-project based company. Finding the incorporated company model cumbersome it was dissolved in 2006 following the creation and presentation of the company’s two highly acclaimed full-evening length productions, Beauty (2003) and the betrayal project (2006). As an independent artist Sasso continues to choreograph and direct commissioned work, self-generated and collaborative movement based projects.

Highly regarded as a teacher of contemporary dance techniques, Sasso has taught at distinguished learning centres worldwide. She is a faculty member of York University’s Department of Dance where she has designed and delivered courses in Composition, Choreography, Improvisation, Repertory and Contemporary Dance Techniques at both the Graduate and Undergraduate levels. She is also a faculty member of The School of Toronto Dance Theatre’s Professional Training Program.  Sasso is an internationally Certified Teacher of the Skinner Releasing Technique™(SRT) and one of Canada’s few active certified facilitators. She has regularly and in recent years increasingly taken on the role of dramaturg, mentor, outside eye, facilitator and rehearsal director for myriad artistic projects.

Sasso’s work has been recognized and honoured with awards, grants, scholarships and bursaries from among others, the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Chalmers Foundation, Laidlaw Foundation, Metcalf Foundation, John McKellar Foundation, Dancers’ Transition Resource Centre, Skinner Releasing Institute, York University, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Royal Winnipeg Ballet Professional Program, Joffrey Ballet School, Harkness Ballet and The Cecchetti Council of America. Her biography is included in Who’s Who of Canadian Women (U of T Press Inc.).

An active participant in the local, national and international dance communities Sasso is a member of CADA/CDA, DTRC, Dance Ontario, Toronto Arts Coalition, SCDS and SDHS. She served as co-chair of the Dancers for Life Organizing Committee, has served on numerous boards, juries and advisory committees and lends mentorship and support to countless dance related initiatives.

Areas of Academic Specialty: Repertory, Contemporary/Modern Dance

Personal Website

 

Lisa Sandlos

Lisa Sandlos

Lisa Sandlos has been a faculty member at York University since 1998, teaching in the Department of Dance, the School of Kinesiology and Health Sciences, the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, and more recently in the Faculty of Education.

The recipient of a SSHRC doctoral award for two consecutive years, Sandlos is a PhD Candidate in Gender, Feminist, and Women’s Studies at York, where her current research focuses on the sexualization of young female dancers and the impacts of this trend on dance education, on public perceptions of dance, and on girls’ psychological and social development. Her recently published chapter in the anthology, Performing Motherhood: Artistic, Activist and Everyday Enactments, examines the role of dance mothers with respect to issues of gender and sexualization within private dance studios and dance competition networks.

Sandlos’ MA in Dance focused on global and local practices of “ecstatic dance”, and the ways in which consciousness-altering or transformative dance experiences can shape communities, influence health, and fulfill the human desire for spiritual connections. She is qualified as a Certified Movement Analyst (C.M.A.) through the Laban Institute of Movement Studies (LIMS) and as an Expressive Movement Analyst (E.M.A.) at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), which equips her to work with a diverse range of students in group or in individual coaching contexts.

An enthusiastic presenter of her academic research and the various embodied movement/dance modalities that she practises, Sandlos has offered her expertise at various conferences, training programs and festivals in locations including Chicago, IL, Sedona, AZ, St. John’s, NL, Vancouver, BC, Hamilton, ON, Ottawa, ON, and Miami FL. Most recently, she was invited to present a scholarly paper and a movement workshop at a conference called The Sustainability Of Dance As An Art Form: Economics, Politics And The Philosophy Of Resistance at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, University of West Indies in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Based in the Toronto dance community for many years, Sandlos worked as an educator, choreographer, and performer.

For more than two decades, Sandlos taught modern dance and creative movement to all ages/levels, working through programs including the National Ballet of Canada’s Creating Dances, the Ontario Arts Council’s Artists in Education, the Toronto District School Board’s Drama/Dance Program, and the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Learning through the Arts.

Sandlos co-founded the performance collective dance continuum, which produced performances and workshops for adult and young audiences alike. She was also the founder and artistic director of a youth dance company, the Young Contemporary Dancers of Toronto (YCDT), whose members have now gone on to apply their early dance performing experiences in the YCDT to careers spanning education, choreography, international development, and dance scholarship.

As a graduate of professional training programs at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre and George Brown College, Sandlos danced professionally in the work of such renowned choreographers as Yuri Ng, Menaka Thakkar, Sylvie Bouchard, Eve Lenzner, David Earle, Newton Moraes, Michelle Silagy, Judith Miller, Janet Lemon, Maxine Heppner, Robert McCollum and Motus O Dance Theatre.

Currently, Sandlos lives in Erin, ON with her husband and two children. In addition to her teaching at York University, she is a frequent guest instructor and choreographer for the Guelph Youth Dance Training Program and The Music Studio.