The choreographers are Rhodnie Désir (Quebec), Rodney Diverlus (Alberta), Mafa Makhubalo (Ontario), Esie Mensah (Ontario), Mikhail Morris (Ontario) and Liliona Quarmyne (Nova Scotia). These three men and three women each represent a unique Canadian voice from the African Diaspora within this country’s dance ecology, and grace the stage with dance manifestations influenced by both their past and present journey. A world premiere, four Toronto premieres and an excerpt of a previously-seen Toronto work range in style from Jazz to Contemporary, from African to Dancehall, and more.
- Rhodnie Désir draws on traditions derived from her Haitian birthplace as well as Central and West Africa. She boasts five works in her repertoire and her flagship work BOW’T (2013) draws interest on both her local Montreal scene (Conseil des arts de Montréal Touring Program, Sainte-Adèle, Toronto and Ottawa) and abroad (Burkina Faso).
BOW’T (boat) was inspired by the English «bow» - meaning bending your head or body forward, as well as the front of a ship. Désir performs to the accompaniment of musician Ronald Nazaire.
A tribute to those who left their land / Without ever truly letting it go, Who still dream of returning one day / And who remain anchored to their deepest traditions…
- Rodney Diverlus has choreographed works for the Alberta Dance Festival, New Voices Festival, Cadence Ballet Company and Fresh Blood. He has performed with Gadfly, Marie-Josée Chartier, Vicki St. Denys and others. Haitian-Canadian, Diverlus is a graduate of Ryerson University’s Performance Dance Program, currently dancing with Calgary’s Two to See is a reflection on conversations left unfinished, things we wish we could say, things we wish we didn't say, and the things we can never take back. Diverlus performs along with three other dancers.
- Mafa Makhubalo started dancing at the age of five and trained with Tony Campbell, founder and director of ZAPAC (Zamdela Performing Arts Centre) in South Africa. After moving to Toronto, Makhubalo continued his training at Ballet Creole School. He has worked with choreographers such as Danny Grossman, Debbie Wilson and Gabby Kamino. He has presented at the Ontario Dance Weekend, Solos and Duets by Ballet Jorgen and International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) in Toronto. When not on stage, he is involved in community outreach programs that help youth realize their Songs of the Soil - Audiences will discover for themselves the meaning of this solo, performed by Makhubalo, as they experience it in the theatre.
- Esie Mensah: A George Brown College graduate, Toronto-born Esie Mensah is one of the most sought after dancers in the industry. She has appeared in Shawn Desman's movie Alive and danced with industry icons Janelle Monae, Nelly Furtado, Jully Black, Deborah Cox and others. Her Afro House choreography has been seen on So You Think You Can Dance Canada and a music video for Blake McGrath’s single Heaven. She was the recipient of the 2014 Black Canadian Best Contemporary An excerpt from Akoma (2015), a dance/theatre work about a young man's journey from Ghana to Canada and his wrestling with the decision to return home. Five dancers explore how the thoughts we keep can take over our mind; how we can lose ourselves in them and what happens if it goes too far. As the thoughts of this young man come alive, we wonder: will he be strong enough to fight them?
- Mikhail Morris: Mikhail Morris has performed with Toronto’s Ballet Creole, COBA and KasheDance as well as Newton Moreas Dance Company and Nafro Dance Company. He is currently teaching the authenticity of Dancehall at City Dance Corps, his most passionate style of dance and reflective of his birth place in Jamaica.
DICHOTOMY is a solo, danced by Mikhail Morris, that highlights two separate personalities – or beings or souls – that are trying to control a man, expressed through the mask of every day life.
- Liliona Quarmyne: Liliona Quarmyne has worked across Canada and internationally, including performing with Compagnie Danse Nyata Nyata. Her current focus is on choreographing and dancing new works as an independent artist. She teaches dance for the Antigonish Creative Dance Association and is also a Program Coordinator for the Tatamagouche Centre. Quarmyne recently returned from her birth place of Ghana, West Africa where she explored movement vocabulary.
Tide - The ocean carries the collective ebbs and flows of our lives. The salty tears we cry – both in laughter and in sadness – bear witness to this, and to our deep ties to the water that covers the Earth and runs through each of us.
The ocean holds a power and a capacity beyond imagination; it is capable of absorbing humanity’s hopes, fears, joys, and sorrows. Quarmayne performs in her powerful solo.
dance Immersion is a not-for-profit organization recognized for its steady engagement in producing, promoting and showcasing dancers and dances of the African Diaspora. The organization was founded in 1994 by Vivine Scarlett and was established to address the need for additional presentation, skill development, and networking opportunities for dance artists of African descent. During its 21-year history, dance Immersion has experienced considerable success in connecting with artists throughout Canada and around the world, and provides opportunities for audiences and participants to experience firsthand the global language of dance, and its ability to build bridges between diverse cultures. www.danceimmersion.ca
Footsteps Across Canada runs:
Friday, February 26 – Saturday, February 27, 2016
Friday-Saturday at 8pm, Saturday matinee at 1pm
at Harbourfront Centre Theatre, 231 Queens Quay West, Toronto
Tickets: $29-$34 (Students/Seniors/CADA $22-$29) – Groups 10+: $15
Harbourfront Centre Box Office at 416-973-4000 OR online at:
Footsteps Across Canada: www.harbourfrontcentre.com