The Canada Dance Festival (June 4-11) is for people who like fancy footwork. So you think you can dance, Canada? Our country’s finest step it up in an array of original, compelling and provocative works. We got the insider’s scoop from Jeanne Holmes, artistic director.
*Top image, Vital Few
What makes the festival special?
The CDF is the only festival in the country solely focused on the presentation of Canadian contemporary dance artists, showcasing work purely from the perspective of dance rather than through the lens of theatre or inter-disciplinary performance. Our festival celebrates the national landscape of amazing Canadian creators gathered together in Ottawa for eight great days of performance. It’s a dance lovers dream.
What will surprise visitors about the festival?
I think the range of work that you can see will surprise people. The companies and artists represent all kinds of work – ballet to hip hop, Kathak to contemporary, from urban centres and smaller regional cities, senior artists who have been making work for 25 plus years alongside new generation creators. It’s the whole gamut. Visitors come to Ottawa — our national capital — to get a sense of what Canada is, what makes us a country. And at the CDF you get a real sense of what that means. The gathering of dancers and companies from across Canada is the coming together of a small and far-flung community of artists all telling uniquely Canadian stories through dance.
Personally, what are you most looking forward to about this year’s festival?
It’s hard for me to choose just one show: the return of ballet to the CDF with Ballet BC is super exciting. An evening of new works made by three of the world’s best female choreographers Emily Molnar, Sharon Eyal and Crystal Pite; world premieres from Melanie Demers / Mayday Dance (Montreal), JP Longboat & Byron Chief Moon (Ottawa/Vancouver) and local superstar Tedd Robinson / 10 Gates Dancing; Rendez-vous à l’hôtel by Montreal’s La 2e Porte à Gauche which is a series of four duets staged in hotel rooms at the brand new Alt Hotel on Slater; and The 50 Dancer Project which is a national collaboration of 50 young dance artists from Winnipeg, Toronto, Quebec and Ottawa led by the remarkable choreographer Robert Desrosier. All must sees!
Ottawa Magazine’s Take
Can’t Miss — The mystical masks of Dancers of Damelahamid; the mature dance artists of Older & Reckless; 10 Gates Dancing, a series of four duets staged in hotel rooms; and the collaborative 50 Dancer Project.
For the Kids — Porch View Dances (June 4-5). Take a free, unforgettable walking tour of Ottawa’s Westboro neighborhood to see new dance works created by professionals, but performed by local amateurs using their front yards and porches as a stage.
Local Wisdom — Try something new. From ballet to hip hop, Kathak to contemporary – and even a dance-driven dinner experience – there’s something for everyone … even a first-time dance spectator.