Julia Aplin — choreographer
Julia’s dance career had taken her across artistic boundaries into theatre, music, design and visual art. Julia has worked with companies such as Tiger Princess Dance Productions, Soulpepper and Company Blonde. With Dusk Dances, she won the 2014 Audience Choice Award for Inner City Sirens Part 2. With Toca Loca, she created the “Halo Ballet” choreographed for video game players in cyberspace. With Urbanvessel, she choreographed actors, singers and boxers in the interdisciplinary co-creation “Voice-Box”. Her work was part of Everyday Marvels, inspired by the poetry of Lorna Crozier at the Gardiner Museum. She was a resident artist with Series 8:08 2013/2014 Creator’s Space Program where she created “Zolla” with accordionist Tiina Kiik. Julia directed “Mirror” with InterArts Matrix which premiered at the Open Ears Festival 2014. Most recently she co-created “Singing River” with Urbanveessel for the Pan Am Path Art Relay and “The Hum” with Theatre Gargantua and the GzAp Collective. Julia has worked with some of Canada’s greatest choreographers including Jean Pierre Perreault and Louise Bédard and some of our country’s best directors including Leah Cherniak, Albert Schultz, Tanja Jacobs and Chris Abraham. Julia has rehearsal directed for Marie-Josée Chartier, Serge Bennathan, Mocean Dance and Sylvie Bouchard. She has also been influenced by her work with international choreographers Damien Muñoz (Spain) and Kim Itoh (Japan). Julia was a performer with Dancemakers, under the Artistic Direction of Serge Bennathan for 15 seasons; an experience that inspired and shaped her ever widening view of what dance can be. She recently co-created and directed “The Yellow Wallpaper”, with Anna Chatterton, John Gzowski, Jim Ruxton, Jordana Deveau and Ken McKenzie (Theatre Aquarius, Hamilton; and The Registry Theatre, Kitchener-Waterloo, May 2016).
Read Julia’s Interview with Courtney Ch’ing Lancaster Performing and Parenting.
Nova Bhattacharya — choreographer
Nova Bhattacharya has been acclaimed as one of Canada’s most captivating dance artists. She has trained with some of bharatanatyam’s most esteemed teachers including Menaka Thakkar, Kalanidhi Narayan and Kitappa Pillai. Her development in contemporary dance has been informed by her ongoing work with Peggy Baker, Sasha Ivanochko and Louis Laberge-Côté and in butoh by Yumiko Yoshioka and Denise Fujiwara. She was a member of Menaka Thakkar and Company for eleven years, appearing as a soloist and company member for many national and international tours. In 1986 she embarked on a career as an independent artist.
Described in The Globe & Mail as possessing a style that is “bold and disturbingly direct” Bhattacharya is vivacious performer with a charismatic stage presence, recognized for her strong technique and thoughtful characterizations. She has appeared in the works of Joan Phillips, Sinha Danse, Fujiwara Dance Inventions, Kaeja D’dance, Viv Moore and Bouchardanse.Eager to explore the scope for innovation within the Bharatanatyam form and seeking to create works that utilize classical vocabulary in a contemporary aesthetic, Bhattacharya began choreographing in 1997. Her choreography has been characterized as “a contemporary expression of the Bharatanatyam form … and more” (Vancouver Sun) and been commissioned by the Canada Dance Festival, Cahoots Theatre Projects, Dusk Dances, Theatre Direct Canada and Toronto Dance Theatre. Bhattacharya’s artistry is a reflection of her classical training and present- day aesthetic, her work is formally rigorous and displays an eloquence that goes beyond pure movement.
Anna Chatterton — writer
Anna Chatterton is a librettist, playwright and performer. As a librettist her work has been commissioned and produced by The Canadian Opera Company, Tapestry Opera, World Stage/Harbourfront Centre, The Banff Centre, Theatre Centre, Urbanvessel, Voice ++ Festival, and The Sound Symposium. Stitch (composer Juliet Palmer) was nominated for Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best New Opera and Anna has been nominated three times for the K.M. Hunter Award for Theatre.
Anna is a Playwright-in-Residence at Nightwood Theatre and Tarragon Theatre. Her play Within the Glass received its premiere produced by Tarragon in January 2016.
Anna writes and performs with the acclaimed feminist theatre collective Independent Aunties (with Evalyn Parry and Karin Randoja). The Aunties have created six shows together, produced by Theatre Passe Muraille, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and the Theatre Centre. Their most recent play Gertrude and Alice was co-produced with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and received 2016 Dora nominations for Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Ensemble Performance. Anna was named Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Alice in The Toronto Theatre Critics Awards.
Her opera The Rocking Horse Winner with Scottish composer Gareth Williams was premiered by Tapestry Opera this summer. Upcoming: two new works with composer Juliet Palmer, The Man Who Married Himself (Toronto Masque Theatre) and Sweat for Centre for Contemporary Opera (NYC); as well as acting in Princess, written and directed by Sky Gilbert.
Anna has her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph and BFA in Theatre Performance from Concordia University.
Jordana Deveau — dancer
Jordana Deveau has been an active force in the Toronto dance community for over a decade. A principal performer with CCDT since 1994, her passion and skill launched her into the roles of Rehearsal Director and then Associate Artistic Director, where she trained future generations of dance artists for 7 years. Now pursuing an independent career, Jordana is the Co-Artistic Director, with Jesse Dell, of JD Dance and a founding member and Rehearsal Director of Event Horizon Dance directed by Miranda Abbott. Jordana is the co-author with Donna Krasnow, MS, of ”C-I Training: Conditioning with Imagery” documenting Krasnow’s conditioning system for dancers. She has trained in Toronto, Vancouver, New York and Vienna, and audiences have enjoyed her performances in the U.S, Europe and across Canada. She has performed in works by notable choreographers including Carol Anderson, Peggy Baker, Sidra Bell, David Earle, Kate Franklin, Margie Gillis, Andrea Nann, Roger Sinha, Holly Small, Santee Smith, and Gerry Trentham. When not on stage, she works in the community as an educator, rehearsal director and workshop facilitator.
Christine Duncan— singer and conductor
A musical chameleon with a near five octave range, Christine Duncan uses her voice as an instrument, exploring its full tonal, timbral and textural range. She is involved in everything from Jazz, R&B, gospel, improvised music, sound poetry, to new music and musique actuelle. She has performed with such notable musicians as Anthony Braxton, Kenny Wheeler, Chucho Valdez, Ray Charles, Evan Parker, William Parker, Rufus Reid, P.J. Perry, Linton Garner, Paul Horn, Jeff Healey, Hugh Fraser, Eugene Chadbourne, Sabeer Mateen, John Oswald, Michael Snow and many others. Christine is also involved in various new music and new opera performances collaborating with the likes of Peter Hannan (The Gang, 120 Songs for the Marquis de Sade, 1000 Years with the HAL Band and phh!k), Urbanvessel (Slip, Stitch, Province of Impossible and Voice-Box) and Toca Loca.
She has been a recording artist for many years, most concertedly since 1994.Christine has been a member of the VEJI (Vancouver Ensemble of Jazz Improvisation) big band for over 15 years. She is one half of Barnyard Drama, an improvising duo of drums, electronics and voice, with Jean Martin, who also runs Barnyard Records. Christine and Jean also have a trio with DB Boyko called Idiolalla which has an album on the Ambiences Magnetiques label in Montreal. Christine has created and developed an improvising choir in Toronto, called the Element Choir and performs regularly with this group. She has been developing a system of conduction cues for work with this type of ensemble and has been travelling and giving workshops based on this kind of structured improvising, working with both groups of voices and groups of instrumentalists, since 2005. Christine is an active educator and teaches in the jazz programs at the University of Toronto and Humber College.
The Element Choir
The Element Choir draws singers from a broad spectrum of styles, from concert sopranos to singer songwriters to sound poets to Japanese folk singers, composers and musicians. Thanks to a Canada Council Arts (study, research) Grant, Christine has had workshops/concerts with over 180 different singers in the past 2 years, further developing her technique for conduction and choir improvising. Christine Duncan and the Element Choir have developed a rich language of sound to draw from for improvisation. This is a group that works with both structured and non-structured elements, based primarily on a system of conduction cues. As an ensemble they explore textural and timbral sound qualities, soundscapes, rhythmic patterns, sound poetry, musical genre interplay and extended voice techniques. This cinematic approach to group vocalizing presents both tonal and non-tonal material in a constantly evolving and ‘in the moment’ sonic environment. Through various conduction cues and signals Christine has developed, she’s able to convey great emotion and drama through sound and vocal energy. The Element Choir has released two completely improvised recordings of music on Barnyard Records — including Christ Church At Deer Park with legendary bassist William Parker.
Cathy Elliott — Singer-Songwriter & Storyteller
Cathy’s thirty year career as an actor, writer, composer and designer has brought her to theatres across Canada. She is a proud member of the Sipekne’katik (Formerly Shubenacadie) Reserve in Nova Scotia. She wrote the book, lyrics and music for Fireweeds (Red Barn Theatre), Moving Day (TIFT) and The Talking Stick (Charlottetown Festival) and collaborated with Gordon McCall in Running on Frozen Air (Nakai Theatre). She recently co-wrote the book for Moll by Leslie Arden and the musical was workshopped and presented at this year’s Canadian Musical Theatre Project with Sheridan College. Selected roles: Swallow Happy Prince (Children’s Trio, LKTYP, Dora nomination), Ariel The Tempest (New World Theatre Project), Aunt Laura Emily the Musical (TIFT), Mrs Potts Beauty and the Beast (Globe Theatre), Hanna Spitfire Grill (Theatre London). Her play, Aluasa’sit is in development with Native Earth Performing Arts.
Sharada Eswar — storyteller & singer
Sharada’s passion for words, spoken and written, began at an early age. She hosted her first Children’s Program on All India Radio when she was 11. A trained Indian classical musician (Carnatic School), she was part of the team representing India at the India Abroad show in Paris and New York. Sharada has been performing and teaching in Toronto and internationally, drawing on her own South Asian ancestry and heritage. Sharada is a published children’s author: her book, Ram’s Caps, was recently published by Harcourt, Canada and she is working on two graphic novels – The Close Alliance and Prince Rama and the Demon King for Rubicon Publishing, Canada. She is an Associate Artist with Theatre Direct and was Playwright-in-Residence at the National Arts Centre, Ottawa. With Jumblies Theatre, Sharada was a storyteller and story-gatherer, Tamil cultural guide and translator, and singer of traditional Tamil songs for the 2011 production of Like An Old Tale, and continues as a core artist in the Scarborough Community Arts Guild.
Germaine Liu — percussionist & instrument-builder
Germaine Liu is a Toronto-based percussionist and composer. Her musical interests primarily involve collaborative improvisation and composition informed by sonic and gestural connections, as well as by the sense of touch and movement. Her recent work focuses on the relationships between human and instrumental bodies by developing environment-specific pieces, which explore the sounds inherent in the materials and the space. As a percussionist, Liu has performed as a soloist, as well as with many acclaimed musicians, such as Rémy Bélanger de Beauport, Anne Bourne, Matt Brubeck, Thomas Charmetant, Peggy Lee, John Oswald, Danielle Palardy Roger, Joe Sorbara, Scott Thomson, and many others. She has participated in the Sound Travels Festival, Supermusique, X-Avant festival, soundaXis festival, Music(in)Galleries, NUMUS, and AIMToronto’s Leftover Daylight and Interface Series. She performs regularly in a number of Toronto-based ensembles, including the AIMToronto Orchestra, Wet Dog’s Dream Dance, Open House, Rob’s Collision, and Octopus. Liu holds an undergraduate degree in music from the School of Fine Art and Music at the University of Guelph, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in music composition with David Mott at York University in Toronto.
Sonja Rainey — designer
Sonja is a Dora nominated set and costume designer as well as a community based artist. She has designed for theatre, puppetry, opera, film and spectacle events and has had work produced in Canada, the U.S and as part of the Prague Quadrennial. Her approach is tactile and experiential, responding to the ideas and themes at hand to create objects, immersive environments that blend forms and materials to move towards the questions and stories that lie below the surface.
Collaborations have included working with the Bicycle Opera Project, Urbanvessel, the Canadian Opera Company, Jumblies Theatre as well as Making Room Community Arts, MABELLEarts and the Community Arts Guild. Her work with these companies has encompassed set and costume design; puppet, projection and mask work; illustration and sculpture as well as the creation of short narrative films. Sonja has an MFA in Theatrical Design from the University of Texas at Austin, a BFA specialization in Design for the Theatre from Concordia University and has most recently studied at the Manitoulin Conservatory for Creation and Performance.
Lucy Rupert — dancer
Lucy trained at the University of Waterloo in the Dance and Music Depts. simultaneously gearing for careers in dance and music performance. After graduating she attended the School of Toronto Dance Theatre briefly, then launched into a career as an independent dance artist. In 2003 Lucy obtained a Master of Arts degree from the University of Toronto in History, specializing in comparative cultural history in pre-WWI Europe. As a freelance artist in dance and theatre, Lucy has been fortunate to work with noted Canadian companies Fujiwara Dance Inventions, Anandam Dance, Sashar Zarif Dance, Little Pear Garden Collective, Puppetmongers Theatre, Volcano Theatre and Theatre Passe Muraille, and to dance in the works of William Yong, Allison Cummings and Angela Blumberg among others. For over a decade Lucy has been performing with Theatre Rusticle playing roles ranging from the Ship Titanic to Pierre Trudeau, the Bird in Peter and the Wolf and Marwood from Congreve’s The Way of the World. An avid bird watcher, a newly formed LEGO enthusiast, and bookworm, Lucy is at ease with her nerdiness and happy living in Toronto with her amazing husband and son.
Alex Samaras — vocal soloist
Alex Samaras is recognized as one of North America’s leading singers in the jazz and new music idioms. He has performed with Meredith Monk, Brent Carver, Jackie Richardson, Zac Brown Band and a number of other notable performing artists. Alex leads his own vocal group GREX, exploring the extremes of the human voice in the context of ancient music and his own original compositions. He performs in well-known Canadian groups such as A Sondheim Jazz Project and Twin Within, both of which have released records to critical acclaim.
Georgia Simms — dancer
Georgia Simms is a dance artist, choreographer and facilitator who is passionate about performance, communication and wellbeing. She is actively experimenting with arts-based approaches for civic engagement and knowledge mobilization, and offers learning experiences that are physical, emotional and energetic. While always dedicated to the dance studio, Georgia is also drawn to the academic realm and completed her degrees in International Development and Geography with a focus on environmental governance. She also worked as a Research Associate with the Water Policy and Governance Group at the University of Waterloo.
In seeking to combine her interests, she decided to investigate the field of art for social change, opting to study briefly at the International Centre for Art for Social Change at Simon Fraser University. These experiences, paired with her ongoing apprenticeship with accomplished and socially-conscious modern dance artists at Dancetheatre David Earle, have inspired her investigations into the intersection of social science, humanities and arts practice. Her site-specific choreography, informed by her research into protecting water sources, has been presented around the St. George’s fountain and in the Market Square splash pad in downtown Guelph. Her current initiatives with the Community Engaged Scholarship Institute at the University of Guelph represent a synthesis of her experiences and her strong belief in the power of art to inspire, heal and transform.
Laura Swankey — vocal soloist
An eclectic and talented vocalist, Laura draws influence from many places. She is a natural improviser and writes with honesty and integrity, always stretching her capacity to create new sounds. She has worked with artists such as Mike Murley, Mark Feldman, Ralph Alessi, Elio Villafranca, Poet Laureate Dennis Lee, and studied under Christine Duncan, Jim Lewis, Terry Promane and Allan Gilliland.
Diana Tso — storyteller
Performer, playwright, poet, and storyteller Diana Tso is a graduate of the University of Toronto and the École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in France. Author and producer of the play Red Snow, inspired by the survivors of the Rape of Nanking, Diana has worked for various theatre companies across the world for over 15 years, as well as as an artist in the schools in Ontario, helping to empower youth through artistic expression. As a storyteller she retells Chinese folktales and performs her creation of Monkey Queen, Journey to the East, inspired by Monkey King in the Chinese 16th century novel, Journey to the West. She shares stories about the power of art and transformation in Chinese mythology and about those who dare and have their dreams come true.