As someone who finds so many good feelings and meaning in making art, I often think about the role of art in the world at large. Should art serve a particular purpose? Does it already? Does the role of art in production occur regardless of intention, or do creators have this role in mind during the process? Does art need to reach final production and be seen by others to have an impact? Boom. Deep. 

I heard a dance teacher once say "You don't have to make dance about saving the whales."


I mean, I think I understand what she was trying to say: you don't have to have a cause to make art. And I would agree that art does not always have to be fueled by some form of activism. How limiting. The reason working "in the arts" is so magical (and a constant struggle) is that there is no system. Generally there is no strategy to develop a "successful" "career" in the arts. Being an artist started when you found yourself on a path which led you to a snow covered mountain with a deadly vertical incline, a guarantee of ice and lose footholds. You trudge through knee deep snow in your inadequate boots until you develop skills and methods unique to you for navigating the mountain in hopes that the peak eventually stops moving further away. 

Breaking rules, conceptions, norms and expectations is what separates art from commercial (WHOA! Big statement, we'll save that one for another time). 

But I can't seem to let artists off the hook with anything goes. (And of course, disclaimer #jbrown, this stream of thoughts comes from reflecting on what I am choosing to present with what I make.) I have a desire to be held accountable for making work that is...doing something. I want art to feel and meet the expectation of effecting audiences in ways they didn't expect. I want every show to give you something to take home and keep you up at night. I want every artist to be held accountable for the time, energy and money they spend on creating and answer Sarah Thornton's question What is an artist? I'm not interested in everyone having the same answer, just simply to have an answer. To be able to say, THIS IS WHAT IT IS! To erase the mystery, to be taken seriously, to be valid, to be stronger together, to know ourselves better. 

p.s. the whales are totally dying and need help


Today I hosted the first rehearsal of an ongoing creative process. 

It was a bit of a big deal because I had two new collaborators come on board and the group hasn't been in the studio since the beginning of December (and I kind of a have a thing with momentum). The two new movers joined the group with complete trust, a wealth of energy and an open mind. Through my nattering and worrying, we still laughed and actually worked. 

freakin' magical.

It's absolutely amazing that within only a few hours five people (and artists, uh ya it's different,) can get together and be shakily lead through a mishmash of physical concepts, imagery and elaborate metaphors to move closer and closer towards a similar goal. And in amoungst the actual work, the actual focused and thoughtful work, there is space for genuine fun.


I've been feeling insecure about leading...




I can't get rid of the idea that it's all about power.

Up to this point I have asked myself a lot of questions. I mean, I didn't blog for a year, what did you think I was doing? #talkingtoyourself

I was able to corner myself into asking four performers for their time, trust and voice in beginning to create something that I believe in more days than not. I have acknowledged that I completely understand and desire slow creation (and I swear this has nothing to do with slow culture at large). I desire a frequent time and space to work on concepts or ideas that have potential to lead to creating performance that will push performers and engage audiences. And I do, of course, hold the pressure of production over my head to continue to remember the goal and avoid getting lost in the research, but the concept of taking time has helped me to begin to find a new way of working. 

There's an element of practise that I desire so much in dance. 

There is the stereotype and practical need for dancers to be able to immediately ingest and regurgitate material. It's miraculous. From a mover's perspective I can see how this is a tool you would like to have in your arsenal. As a creator, I don't see the interest. I want to develop a work that I can't picture in my head. I want to make something beyond my body. I want to harness intention, risk, and narrative into movement that creates a language that needs to be learned. I want to create this language with other people and for us to become fluent in it. To develop a physical practise in our bodies that moves us from memorisation to knowing. To speaking. To sharing.

And it all sounds good until absolute fear hits you. 

I'm afraid that I'm already to old for this. I'm afraid because I don't come from a rigorous ballet background. My fear is reinforced after writing application and application for money, and opportunities to show, learn, and reside are turned down. I'm afraid thanks to untrue stereotypes and misguided advice. I'm not afraid of doing it. I'm not afraid of my capability and I hold no fear of work. I want to try and I have so much gratitude for the performers who continue to give me their time and respect to explore with me. 

Thank you. 

watershed : January

Over the hype of 2017 already? Today is February 23rd and my iphone says it's 16degrees out. I did my laundry in a tank top and shorts. What a frightening winter.

I have seen posters for WaterAid on the TTC subway for months now and finally got a chance to look into it. WaterAid is an international organization that works to provide safe water and sanitation in 37 different countries. Their approach is inclusive and their impact has reached over 25 million people. It's pretty amazing. I'm not a consistent donor of any charity, but WaterAid reminded me of a number of charities and organizations that focus on clean water and sanitation. I started to wonder how many of these organizations exist. Where are they all working and is all of their impact this great? How are we still so far from EVERYONE having clean drinking water if we are doing so much work towards it? Through doing some research I really didn't find my answers (I feel like this is a phd thesis) and realized I'll have to continue learning about the role of charities over time. 

Goodnet (founded in 2011, which reminds me of Good Magazine's website, founded in 2006) has a list of "7 Water Organizations You Should Know" (remind me to do a blog about how aggravating internet lists are). The organizations focus on clean water and sanitation for both rural and urban areas through donations, school or sales. I also discovered a list created by The Water Brothers- wait, what's Water Brothers?

The Water Brothers is a series produced by TVO (<- the bombdiggity) premiering season 4 on March 3rd! The Water brothers have an awesome list of water-based organizations and charities on their Education tab that showcases firstly, more Canadian-based companies, and secondly, organizations doing a larger range of work. Similar to the other list, there are organizations working on clean water around the world, there are also a number of water protection, restoration, reef, ice, plastic and environmental footprint based projects. One that I recognized and love, but haven't been overly active in including in my life consistently is Ocean Wise. Ocean Wise is a Vancouver-based organization that is focused on sustainable seafood and has created relationships with restaurants, stores, retailers and shops to provide Canada with sustainable seafood. I love this organization because it does the work for you. Ocean Wise has done the work of understanding what is in season in our oceans as well as sorting out farming vs wild fishing sustainability practises. All we have to do as fisheaters, is buy it! Make the effort to go to the shops and markets that have an Ocean Wise partnership and be a conscious consumer (blogpost foreshadowing). Their website even has a map of where their partners are located. They really can't make it any easier. 

In reflection this post has brought out an example of something I think about quite a bit. I realize that I am a fan of efficiency (not convenience, efficiency), and even though I understand the benefits of having variety, I don't understand replication. For example, I understand having a variety of independently owned coffee shops scattered throughout the neighbourhoods of a city. The range of owners gives each shop individuality, it has potential to become a hub for a specific community, and prevents the shops from having tp uphold similar standards (aka starbucks), amoung other things. I get that. But...is it the same with charities? If multiple charities have the same mission and the people who run the charities work from and in the same countries...wouldn't it benefit the charity's mission to band together? To combine resources and ideas and work together? Even when I think about my place in the dance community, I think about what exists, what is needed, and what I have to offer. And that's what I try to do. In the arts community, similar to the avenues of social good, there is no room for competition. If we want to be successful in changing the world and contributing to, it we have to work together. 

Similar to the ending of my last post, maybe I'm missing something. You are always invited to inform me.

Happy Spring. 

watershed : 2016 Wrap Up

Bet you can guess what my new years resolution is. 

A part of posting news I find relating to water is the discovery of both completely new issues as well as issues and groups that have been around for a while. And then you come across content that is a bit of both. 

In 1962, Dryden Pulp and Paper company released a butt load of mercury (an estimated 9,000kg) in the local river system, until the time that the poisoning of fish and water was discovered in 1970. In the early 1980s, money and settlements traded hands between the Canadian federal government and a number of the communities although where this money went and how accessible it actually was to the communities is something that is constantly debated, even on this issue's Wikipedia page.  Ultimately, there was not and has not been enough to done deal with both the effects of the ingested mercury by community members or the current health of the water to sustain the affected communities. There is a lot of history here, including when the story got some international coverage in 2015 and ended up in papers again this past summer, in time with Thirsty for Justice which is an effective tool to begin to understand the long history behind what has been happening in Northern Ontario.

The most recent news I could find on what is happening to Grassy Narrows, Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nations, and Whitedog, Wabasseemoong Independent Nations, is a CBC audio clip of the study of the impacts of mercury on community members by doctors from Japan. Reading about the history of this topic is incredibly heartbreaking. What has been termed environmental racism is hard to begin to imagine and makes me think of Peggy Shepard's Ted talk and her conception of "sacrifice zones." It also brings me back to the bluedot movement I mentioned in my last post and its' angle in this fight through policy change, one municipality at a time. Gaining awareness of what's going on around you is important regardless of what you do during your time on this planet. 

Hitting on other things that were missed at the end of 2016, I suppose we should include the American presidential debates completely forgetting about the environment as a topic. Like, at all. And my too late learning of Planet in Focus an environmental film festival that has existed for 17 years. Luckily, their listings are still online for the films screened, so you can attempt to track them down. Looking at the list I didn't see Disobedience, a short film released last April. Take a look: 

Of course we can't forget Justin deciding to pass the Kinder Morgan pipeline, which you can't help but remind you of the most recently sworn in American President green-lighting the Keystone XL pipeline. Sometimes I find it hard to talk about oil because I know I'm not an expert, and it seems like there are a lot out there. Environmentalists, politicians, business owners, etc, all have an opinion on oil and all speak with the confidence that they know what is best based on their particular window on the situation. As a regular person who is attempting to do their best at just living, these are my current thoughts.

The damage of (drilling and transporting) oil has been confirmed through...actual damage.  

Also, from what I understand, crude oil is finite.

Also, from what I understand, there are thousands of jobs in renewable energy. 

With that information alone, I don't understand why we aren't firstly, using renewable energy as much as possible where we can, and two, why we are building more infrastructure for a resource that is not going to last forever. Boggles me mind. Typically, when I don't understand something I feel as if there is a part of the argument that I'm missing. Please educate me (with a side of sarcasm) if you'd like. 

Artist's Internet Presence

I'd like to talk about the internet. 

the internet. Not The Internet who is clearly amazing, and hopefully also bringing you to a calm state to talk about something not as soothing...the actual internet. wifi is the current most common name for the internet and we all know it is a sea of knowledge and bullshit. Regardless, our existence in the digital world is something that is preached often and there for an item on many of our to-do lists because we've been told it's something we "should" do. 

This past week, I was able to do some outreach for a local organization where I was attempting to look up individuals and companies to offer them an opportunity. A lot of the names I was given to research came from successful grant applicants (in case you did not know, grant results including successful applicants and allocated funds are published online- what transparency!). However, I struggled in most cases to find contact information for both individuals and small companies. 

This. Is. Interesting. 

It blew my mind that people who were being handed money to develop and produce their creative dreams are on the radar of large organizations who want to present these artists with addition opportunities, but can't, due to not being able to find...an email address? Furthermore, it was interesting that during my research of some individuals, I found out SO MUCH about them. I learned who they are, their body of work, their ambitions, their training- yet, no contact information. No hyperlinks to an artist's website or contact information in online newspaper articles, interviews or theater information on upcoming or past shows. And once discovering some artist's and company's websites the contact information consisted of their facebook page or a contact form:

photo from  ProPhoto.com

photo from ProPhoto.com

The worst. 

With all of this in mind, I also realized something else. Obviously I recognized some artists on the list, but when I went to confidently type their name into google, I couldn't find anything. This also blew my mind: "But I know this choreographer/dancer/actor/artist. They're amazing. They get work. How can they be omitted from this contact list I'm creating?" The fact that internet is not connecting our community as much as it connects us to recipes, selfies and porn has me a bit worried. Clearly there are artists creating a living without the support and benefits of being accessible online. But is this for the best? I imagine the opportunities we miss out on by only being available via facebook. I wonder about our community and if having a more relevant online presence as a whole would change things? Would it change our way of life? Or the landscape of being an artist? The way we discover success or have an impact? Would it change anything?

More conversation to come. 

Online Arts Network

My mom is amazing. 

Julie Balen joined twitter in 2009 and is the sole reason I have an account. Through pursuing her masters online, taking part in #ETMOOC (Educational Technology & Media Open Online Course, 2013) and co-developing #OOE (Open Online Experience, 2013) my mom has had the ability to create a flourishing PLN (personal learning network. I know, I didn't know what it stood for either). Living on Manitoulin Island, she (and everyone else who lives there) is segregated (...with one another). This is the very element that draws people to move to a place like the island, but in some scenarios, it's a pain. My mom is a teacher, coach, curriculum developer, and all round educator. She began her career after staying at home with three darlings for ten years and is bursting with passion and determination to become and evolving expert in her field and positively impact as many young lives and she possibly can. The development of her PLN gave her the opportunity to create new relationships with people she otherwise would most likely have never met, and able to share, learn and work with these people. It's amazing. I've gone to events with my mom where we have worn "Hello, my name is" stickers with your twitter handle on it and people have recognized her. Crai. 

I'm constantly on the look out for artists of any variety to collaborate with, but honestly, it's a struggle. I typically reach out to other dancers but there is a lot of the community working on their own numerous projects who do not have the time or creative energy to enter into another project with an unknown outcome with some stranger via the web. Totally fair. Basically, I'm looking for people. Totally jealous of my ma's PLN, I'm all like, "Well fine. I'll just get me one of those."


This brings me to the point of this post. I started this blog extremely recently. I decided I needed to force myself to be more present in the digital world. I wanted an outlet to throw my thoughts out there and have a home on this endless universe that is the internet. I also wanted to begin the process of making these connections with people via the web that have the power to spur on some amazing stuff (as I have seen with my mom in #craftreconciliation and #CDNcraft). However it seems like this particular end of internet universe is pretty empty.

After searching the internet for any hint of active conversations occurring between artists online I found a number of things:

  1. Artists websites. Typically including some of their work, CVs, media coverage, reviews, critiques, awards, contact information, etc...
  2. Places to sell art. Typically visual art online stores.
  3. Forums to share art, once again typically visual (think deviantart)
  4. Commercial art outlets. 

Ok. Well what if conversation does not need its own website? I mean, my mom's PLN is basically hosted and supported by Twitter. I have yet to find an active conversation about dance or art through the twitterverse and the dance community I follow online. If anything I find that the majority of the tweets I see are self promotion. There's little conversation, response or personality in the tweets I see. This bothers me because I BELIEVE in art. I crave to have more conversations about it. What makes something like education more accessible to those on the internet then art? Why aren't these online communities forming naturally like others? Am I missing something that is already in existence? I don't know the answers but I'm ready be a participant in pushing the movement forward. I believe the conversation online has to be one around professional development. The internet provides a vast range of opportunities: promotion, advertisement, education, inclusion, presence, etc, and in addition to all of the imagined purposes, is also our opportunity to connect. Like a lot of new things, the idea of meeting and working with people who you can not see, who you can't jam with or judge(-I mean...connect with) during an audition is weird. But lets be honest. That "weirdness" usually stems from our own insecurities. "Noooo, I just don't have the time to nurture another relationship and collaboration that takes so much energy to establish and grow and find momentum...you know?" No. That (sentence) is what life is actually about. And if you don't have enough time, Toronto, put down you damn Americano, skip your yoga class and talk to a stranger online. Yup. You can even do it in your lulus. 

watershed : October


So, beyond this website being used as a blog to talk about my personal and artistic journey, document and share creations and podcasts, I'm also making room here for news that relates to water. Maybe it's not a shock that someone who comes from the largest freshwater island in the world cares about water, but it only occurred to me more clearly in the past year that this resource is of personal importance. 

It started when I came across Global Goals last year and faced with the idea of picking one goal around social good over others. After getting over myself that we are not prioritizing issues but dividing to concur, I realized that my draw to water is something that is rooted in my upbringing and remains an important element of my life.
Immediately, I began to take notice of more and more news that directly related to water later that year. Of course, there was the Water Crisis in Flint, Michigan, and David Suzuki made his tour across Canada with bluedot. I started listening to The Green Majority who started to deliver more environmental news to my ears and led me to participate in 350.org's Climate Welcome for JT last November. In the new year I hosted an event attempting to convert strangers to all natural shampoo (who even uses conditioner?) and hosted the first of a multiple part photo series titled Oil Obsessed. 

And now back, living and working in the Canada after three months away, I recently received emails about the #stopKM march on Parliament TOMORROW (October 24th) by Climate 101 and the needed support for the Chippewas of the Thames First Nations in fighting Enbridge leading up to November 30th

Even abroad, surfing for the first time brought me back to Surfrider, an organization I came across on the web years ago, with a new perspective and importance as well as being shown a Green Peace produced video, while in Italy, with a focus on saving the artic

Ultimately, I have been feeling more and more responsibility to curate the information and news I digest via the internet. I hope with creating a space to gather content around news stemming from water and its' connection and effect on society, this month update will become a place to stimulate awareness and an archive what is happening in our world. 

This is a call out

Hello 2016! Fancy seeing you here...already. 

So after the celebration (and the hangover), and the lists of 2015, and the new gym memberships, it's still 2016. Time keeps passing like it always will and it's about time to do something. Over the past six months I have been working, interning, creating, and playing but it wasn't until recently that I realized it's not enough. I'm bored. My mind boils over with small inceptions and sparks of different art projects and fizzles out before I can find the momentum to make them happen. yaddayadda. The point is...

I need you!

I have a strong a deep desire to work with others. Dancers, artists, activists, people who are curious, people who have an idea, people who want to support other ideas, or just people. For me, collaboration with others forces myself to explain artistic ideas as a whole. It pushes concepts and the message of art further and rallies a sense of support, excitement and energy. Collaboration creates relationships that have the power to produce the beauty and the tools the world needs. 

So, that being said, collaborate with me. First step, contact. Second step, coffee/hot beverage of choice (including in person visits, phone calls, skype and letter writing).

Lets make something. 

&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; It's time to get dirty.&nbsp; &nbsp;-photo by Lauren Pero.

                                                                                                                                                                            It's time to get dirty.  -photo by Lauren Pero.


I've been talking. Obviously not on here, but I have been. To friends, to family members, to other artists. We talk about concerns we have in our disciples, in our fields, in our lives. We talk about problems and never having enough time and how there is always so much to do. A question I've discovered I've been asking myself is., "how is my time spent the most effectively?" And I fear that after all this time (really just a couple months) I've been pursing living completely backwards. 

I "do." I am a doer. I apply for everything I hear about, even things I know I won't even be considered for. I attend. I go to comedy shows, theatre and dance performances, galleries, festivals, sporting events, restaurants (a lot), conferences, pop up things and one off things. So essentially my time is broken up into blocks of moving from one thing to the next. Starting at responsibilities (work, intern ships, volunteering, training) to time off which usually consists of attending. Writing this now I feel pretty silly, but it occurred to me just this past week that I haven't actually been producing. I haven't personally been creating and seeing the physical manifestation of that creative inspiration. Who knew that jamming in your room doesn't cut it?

So there were and are a ton of things happening this week. And I'm missing them all. It feels strange. No, it feels wrong. Apparently I'm currently conditioned to think that is how my time (and money) should be spent. To be an active member in the community of not only arts but Toronto. The past couple days, after attending to responsibilities, I have stayed in the confines in my room, fuelled by tea, and beginning that process. Discovering the things I have collected for a later project and feeling the excitement of putting something together. 

mbdemers originals

So simple. 

And of course as you create it adds context to the conversation you can have with others and with yourself on blogs such as this. I think it's about time I stop attending as well and start instigating...but more on that to come a little later. 

And then I remembered why we are important

In my current self discovery mode of defining what I want to do with the rest of my life, pursuing it and finding ways to tell others about it, doubt often floats around in my head. There are a lot of questions I ask myself but one that has been frequent lately is about the need for dancers. Do we serve a purpose? Do you need to have freakishly awesome flexibility or set of tricks to seem captivating? Do you need revolutionary concepts and content for you work to be relevant? The amount of steps dancers and choreographers have to take to finally get  to the work has me constantly thinking about the hoops we have to jump through and how that may be changing what we create. I know it does for me. Even looking at applications has me second guessing my ability to meet the requirements in addition to have an authentic idea and create something that can be presented proudly by its performers. It has to be a new work, it has to be a finished work, it has to be 5-15 minutes long, it has to address a particular theme, idea, purpose, it has to be suitable for a particular audience, it pays this much...I’m drowning.


I have been working for Toronto based choreographer Peter Chin as a rehearsal assistant while he perfects his work Woven to be show in the Harbourfront Centre’s upcoming Next Steps 2015/2016 Series. Sitting in on rehearsals has been amazing. The current cast of Woven is comprised of two local dancers and three international dancers of different nationalities. There are language barriers and variations in their training backgrounds, but regardless of the differences this cast is a team that is cohesive and cooperative. Individually, dancers physically recall intricate material from digital sources and are able to alter details on the spot. In groups, the dancers can work through vast detailed choreography by contributing to its accuracy as they kinesthetically remember and rely on one another for help. The dancers also respond to Peter with a mutual respect and caring for the work that shows their investment in what they are doing. There are conversations about what the dancers “need,” where to start, how far they can travel, if they need more time, etc… They’re also involved in the process of creating by offering suggestions as how to clarify a movement or for a particular transition. The dancers also have the confidence and ability to fully embody verbal instructions. The ability for Peter to see the whole picture, stand at a distance and direct the dancers is an awesome choreographic tool. When the choreographer can clearly verbally communicate what they’re interested in and allow the dancer to physically find the movement, it achieves the choreographic idea as well as resonating in the dancer with an authentic quality.

mbdemers originals


Maybe this is all so very typical of the art form and I am blind to it, but it continues to be an eye opening experience for me. To see in front of me, day after day, the physical stamina, ability and awareness along with the mental and creative capacity demonstrated by the Woven cast clearly outlines why dancers are important. Why not just anyone can do this work. It reminds me to embrace and cherish the moments of working after you have jumped through the hoops.


Last week I also participated in an intensive hosted by Alias Dance Project at their home studio, Cornerstone, by Gerrard and Coxwell. Frigg. Talk about awesome people. This week, coming directly after a week of working with Peter Chin and his team gave me the physical experience of what I was seeing in his rehearsals. The Alias intensive is based on the sharing and learning of physical skills. The ability for individuals to create is a given, and the discovery of new forms is found with the same concept of holding the movement as your own, authentic. Working in concentrated focused classes with a group of people as hungry as I am to learn and grow was therapeutic. When dancing at Cornerstone I had no questions. I wasn’t worried about how legitimate dance or the arts is or isn’t and I didn’t ask if this was the “right” thing. I was fully consumed and lost in the challenge and freedom of working with people who are working on their passion and profession and who won’t let anyone or thing get in the way.

Alias Dance Projects via Instagram


Almost a whole week out of the intensive, I’m crashing. Still fantasizing about the 40 hour dance week of my dreams while working in kitchens and gardens across Toronto. These artists find the balance. They work. Dance without the work is hollow. It's self conscious and insecure. it's eyelashes and high legs and quiet.


what's written

One of the many aspects of the arts that I'm interested in is how different art forms integrate into society. In my mind, for dance to become a more sustainable and dependable career, the discipline has to do a better job at integrating into mainstream society. The struggle of getting people into the theatre is a constant conversation among all artists of the performing arts variety. To me, the physical lacking of audience for performances is only a symptom of the larger issue.

I meet people, sometimes, and sometimes they ask what I “do.” This is always a hard question for me to answer because I'm wondering what they’re looking for. Maybe not. Maybe I'm looking for the most legitimate answer. Either way, I'm insecure about answering this question. Do you want to know what I do to pay for rent? Or do you want to know what I spent the past four years and $40,000 on studying? Do you want to know about the thing that gets me up in the morning and keeps me going all day? WHAT DO YOU WANT?

Regardless, eventually it comes out that I dance. And cue questions. “So... what style do you do?” “Do you teach?” “What kind of jobs can you get?” That last one’s a really good question and if anyone has the answer, you should probably start a blog! The point is, lots of people I have met who are not connected with the arts community don’t know what dance is beyond classes for kids and have no concept of how the industry works. I started to think about the lack of basic knowledge of the form and the average person and wondered, “Well, where the hell would these people learn about dance anyway?” So, I began a search. Since I currently live in Toronto, I began to look at the local and national new sources and their reporting of dance.

Buying all of the following magazines and newspapers in one week cost me more than my groceries, therefore, the following reports are based on the online content. Although at times the content between print and online can differ, often there is more content online, so hopefully what I found may be a generous estimation of how well dance is represented through the Canadian media.

The Star thestar.com

Dance is listed as one of the many components of “Stage” under “Entertainment” in The Star’s conceptual layout. Reflecting on the month of July, The Star published a piece on the choreographic works of Jonathon Young and Crystal Pite on the special day of July 19th by Michael Crabb, one of the few dance writers in the whole country. But let’s talk about that some other time.

Toronto Sun torontosun.com

I would assume that the Toronto Sun classifies dance in the same way that The Star does, however, there were no articles on dance in the month of July so its a bit hard to tell. Maybe it’s under sports...wait a minute, there’s no women anything reported in the sports section...hmmm…

Metro Toronto metronews.ca/news/toronto/

While Metro (Toronto) does not have a section of their website dedicated to art, they do have a section for “Oddities.” When entering “dance Toronto 2015” into their search bar, dance related titles do appear. Titles such as “Pan Am Games: Canadian artists to show new works at Toronto 2015” (2014) and “National Ballet to stage ‘The Tempest’” (2014). High-five Metro.  

The Globe and Mail globeandmail.com

Entering the world of national news coverage, The Globe and Mail has an “Arts” heading on their website! Under that heading you will find: film, television, books, music, theatre, visual arts, awards and video. Hmmm... Luckily when you click on “Theatre” it opens up to “Theatre & Performance.” Score. Here’s the breakdown:

July 15/2015: an article about Luca Lazylegz Patuelli by Martha Schabas

June 9/2015: an article by injured National Ballet dancer Evan McKie on injury, The Sleeping Beauty and some other ballet goodies

May 15/2015: an article on Les Grands Ballets Canadiens by Robert Everett Green

May 1/2015: an article on the Royal Winnipeg Ballet by Paula Citron

April 15/2015: an “Obituary” that falls into the dance category about Willie Fraser from Nova Scotia by Allison Lawlor

March 6/2015: an article about the National Ballet’s winter season by Martha Schabas

National Post nationalpost.com

There is an “Arts” tab on the National Post’s website that brings up the options of celebrity, movies, music, books, television, Theatre and TV Listings when clicked.  

Rebecca Tucker reported on the Pite-Young collaboration on July 17th. Hitting the same work as the Crabb article in The Star, the Post got their version out first but Crabb was sponsored to visit The Bnaff Centre in person. So take that.

Maclean’s macleans.ca

I know, I know. Mclean’s is a magazine. But hey, it’s news, it’s national. Why not look?

Yeah, so there’s nothing. There is a section titled “Culture” which houses off shoot tabs labelled books, television. movies and art, where I imagine the potential for dance to be placed! But it’s currently not.  

The Walrus thewalrus.ca

Another Canadian news source magazine. Just trying to be supportive here guys.

The layout of The Walrus is unique compared to the other sources I have been hunting through online. The Walrus focuses on their range of products versus categorizing their website into the different types of news. While scrolling through the home page of the website, I was able to find a section titled “Arts & Culture” which included three articles tagged as comedy, visual art and fashion. It seems that only the three articles are available at a time but the website does have the ability to subscribe for a digital version of the magazine which may give you a little more access to their online content.

When searching The Walrus’ website with the term “dance” a huge list of articles appear...but none of them are about dance.

CBC cbc.ca

CBC’s website also comes with a handy “Arts” tab, and when clicked takes you to a page listing all of their stories tagged as “art”. Scrolling through the tiles until the month of July, this is what I found:

July 14/2015: an article on a 15 year old Scottish dancer who is travelling to Scotland to compete in the international competition for the third time

July 17/2015: another article on Lazylegz and ILL-Abilities promoted through the context of panimania

July 20/2015: video report on a b-boying competition as a part of panimania

July 22/2015: another article on the Pite-Young collaboration

July 23/2015: an article on Nicole Mion (Springboard Performances) connecting neighbours in Calgary through dance and other mediums

July 24/2015: a Q&A with Guillaume Côté about his release videos on YouTube, inspired through his performance in panimania

To sum up, this hunt has helped me to discover things in a physical way. I've always held assumptions that dance does not have a consistent place in the world of the media, and actively searching for articles about dance did prove to be a challenge. Here are the major points I've discovered for myself.

1. To avoid making this blog post an essay I avoided mentioning other art forms and how represented or under-represented they are in mainstream media, however, while scouring the web I took notice. Genres such as music, TV, film, books, and even visual art and media make appearances as categorical tabs and headers for marking the division of the arts. Of course, this representation has a direct correlation with the amount this art is integrated into the lives of the general population. This leads me to believe that popularity is the basis that news sources decide to focus on certain material. Is that it?

2. The content that is published about dance is usually related to something other than dance itself. For example, all of the articles and stories spun off of performances at panimania, the injured Mckie and the three time touring Scottish dancer. This content is not about dance. It does not speak deeply about the work, the artists, the community, its growth, its struggles, or its future. The articles do not promote the idea of promoting the arts or the importance of dance to the general populous. These articles are feel good stories about the amazing work people are doing beyond the potentially unfortunate lifestyle of dance.

3. The content that is produced about dance is mostly about ballet. Of course, that statement contradicts the article interviewing Côté by CBC who claims that ballet is a dying form that people need to be educated about. Thanks to panimania, his dance film Lost in Motion (2011) has just been covered now. As you may be able to tell, I have some opinions about ballet, but I will also save those for another time

4. The content that did emerge from the typical form and format of how dance is covered is the popular exception of Crystal Pite’s work--pretty much because it’s amazing. It’s amazing enough that a range of arts editors are actually printing real stories on the art itself. Whoa.

The only other article that stuck out to me was the community geared program in Calgary hosted by Nicole Mion. Sounding similar to a Toronto (and this year Ottawa) version Porchview Dance hosted by Kaeja d’Dance. This article reported on a singular event in the dance community by a local company that was not connected to an international event. Booyah.

I think this post is a first glimpse into how dance connects to the greater world and how dance as an art form (or not) is seen by the media (or not).

The hunt shall continue.