Member Spotlight

A monthly series where we shine the spotlight on one of our members.

July 2019: Shot of Scotch Vancouver
Q&A with Artistic Director Susan Nase
IG: @shotofscotchvan
TW: @shotofscotchvan
FB: @ShotOfScotchVancouver

Photo by Jeannine Facht

Who are you, in a sentence? 

SN: My bio will tell you that I’m a prairie-born Scottish Highland dancer, tap dancer, singer and engineer, but what feels more true is to describe myself as a connector, a creator and an advocate of culture.

What was your path to creating Shot of Scotch Vancouver?

SN: Shot of Scotch was first started while I was living in NYC. There is a ton of Irish culture there, but very little Scottish so SoS was formed as an outlet for me (and any other new arrival to NYC) to continue to Highland dance. The group in NYC grew from three founding members to a large active company in only two years. When my work visa expired, I moved back to Canada and the Vancouver branch of Shot of Scotch was born.

Tell us a bit about the work the company does.

SN: Our work creates opportunities for exploration and connection that lie beyond the limits of traditional Highland dance which is very structured, athletic, and rigid. The work we do honors the traditions and technique, but challenges the boundaries of traditional settings by incorporating movements and creation techniques of other dance and creative disciplines to create innovative, challenging works often in close collaboration with other dance artists or musicians.

Do you have any memories of moments or people that have influenced your artistic trajectory?

SN: I am constantly being influenced and inspired by other artists in any number of disciplines! My experience of living in NYC for over 4 years, impacted me greatly. I was surrounded by emerging, established and legendary dancers and musicians, many of which I remain in close contact with today. From time spent with them, I learned that anything is possible and to just show up and do the work. Day after day, week after week, just keep creating. Commit to the artistic vision and believe in yourself. 

Do you have any ritual that you carry out each day? 

SN: Coffee! Every morning I have my espresso, green smoothie and I write in my journal. Often yoga or my newest effort – jogging (slowly) around the sea wall gets included in the morning ritual. I feel very grateful to live and work in this beautiful ctiy.

Any plans for the coming season?

SN: Shot of Scotch has just become a non-profit society, so we have so many new ambitions and plans! In addition to our regular traditional performances in and around the lower mainland, we are working to create, present and tour a full-length show. We’re developing several ongoing collaborations with the VPD Pipe Band and Royal Academy of Bhangra, have a trip in Oct planned to work with Highland dancers in Argentina, and we’re very excited to be part of the Discover Dance Series at the Dance Centre next Apr.

I am a Dance Centre member because …

SN: The Dance Centre has been our home since our first rehearsal in 2013. We’re grateful for the support we receive as well as being connected to the broader dance community in Vancouver.

June 2019: Company 605
Q&A with Co-Directors Lisa Gelley and Josh Martin

IG: @company605

Lisa Gelley & Josh Martin; Photo by David Cooper

Who are you, in a sentence?
I am a Vancouver-born, halfway through her thirties, half-Japanese, glass half-full, dance artist and mother.
JM: I am a publicly quiet and privately loud Virgo who does his best to keep up with all the exciting things sprouting up around him, including his toddler daughter.

Tell us a bit about Company 605 and the work you do?
Company 605 was started as a collective in late 2006, and has grown through many phases since, but mainly we’re into producing various contemporary dance projects and disseminating new work. We make and tour shows, but more and more we’re trying to also use our organization’s structure to create different types of opportunities for artists and audiences to simply convene around dance.

What inspires the work you create?
People. Mainly it is the conversations in the room or studio as we begin to ask questions and research movement together. The ongoing dialogue with the people we work with, and other makers around us, is often what creates momentum behind the direction and desires for our work. Usually we bring forward some unanswered questions from a previous process that stuck with us, we try to remain curious, and follow whatever gets dug up.

What are the core values of your practice in three words?
Collaboration, Connection, Rigour.

Do you have any memories of moments or people that have influenced your artistic trajectory?
So many people we work with, for, and watch the work of. Bruno Collinet, Amber Funk-Barton, Shay Kuebler, Le Groupe Dance Lab, Dana Gingras, Susan Elliott, Justine Chambers, German Jauregui, Maiko Yamamoto, to name a few.

Do you have any ritual that you carry out each day?
I think they all relate to our daughter, now. Her routine is our routine. She brings books to me in bed in the morning and reads as I’m waking up. I sing her a song I made up as I put her to bed at night. The rituals of parenting! And sometimes, we have the small pleasure of the reappearance of the rituals that belonged to us as people before becoming parents.

Any plans for the coming season?
Starting to build a new ensemble work, co-producing F-O-R-M (Festival of Recorded Movement) again, reimagine some ideas from Loop, Lull as an installation piece for Dance In Vancouver, a new solo work for Josh, and continuing our annual programs including the 605 Winter Intensive, PushOFF with Theatre Replacement, and Making Conversation. And a few new things we are cooking up...            

We are Dance Centre members because …
We value community and connectivity - We feel more tied to other artists and more embedded within the greater dance landscape because of The Dance Centre.

May 2019: Q&A with Sophia Wolfe
Dance Artist + Artistic Director of F-OR-M Festival Of Recorded Movement

IG: @maiwolfe / @formvancouver 

Photo/Design by Nita Bowerman

Who is Sophia Wolfe in a sentence?
SW: I am a hapa (Half Japanese, Half European) contemporary dance artist with a growing practice in integrating film and photography with movement. I am also the Artistic Director of F-O-R-M (Festival Of Recorded Movement). 

What was your path to building a career in dance?
I was always a mover. Right from being inside my mother I was dancing. My grandma gave me the middle name 舞 (Mai - pronounced "my"); this kanji represents "dance", so I feel like it has always been a part of me. My path to a professional career sparked when I was a part of a youth training program in Parksville called DanceStreams, which lead me to continue professional training with Modus Operandi. Through Modus, I was able to connect with many dancers and choreographers and I started to shape my dance practice. I also attended summer intensives in Toronto, Vienna and Deltebre. After Modus, I started working with Company 605 as their artistic intern for one season and have gone on to working with other companies and choreographers since. 

Tell us a bit about F-O-R-M Festival Of Recorded Movement
F-O-R-M is a festival that came out of a desire to have a platform in Vancouver/ Canada for youth to screen and create work that showcased dance and movement through film. It came of out the support and encouragement of Josh Martin and Lisa Gelley (Company 605), which at the time, I was just finishing my artistic internship with in 2015. Since the first festival in 2016, it has incorporated into its own non-profit organization called Recorded Movement Society, which aims to develop a larger community, network and awareness of movement on screen artists and audiences across Canada. September 2019 will mark our 4th festival.

What have been some rewarding aspects of the festival?
SW: It has been incredible to see the festival grow from year to year. Every year I am encouraged and reminded of the need and demand for this platform through the many creative applications we receive through our calls for submissions. We have a Commissioning component where we provide grants to youth and emerging artists to create a film for the festival. It is such a privilege for me to be able to read through so many inspiring projects and see their processes from application to final edits on the big screen. Seeing their excitement, smiles and joy at the festival makes all the hard work more than worth it and keeps me fuelled for the next year. It is also exciting to see the films continue to have a post-festival life and to know that their films are being show to audiences around the world through other festivals and screenings. 

How would you describe your values as a dance artist in three words?
SW: Curiosity. Empathy. Sensation 

Do you have any memories of moments or people that have influenced your artistic trajectory?
SW: Josh and Lisa have been a huge support to me over the course of my evolving creative career. They invited me into their creative space even before I finished Modus, and they have since been guiding forces in my artistic trajectory. They gave me space, time and encouragement to continue to build a creative career. My peers have also had a huge influence on my path. The community around me inspire me every day to keep pushing boundaries, creating and sharing our work to the world. 

Do you have any ritual that you carry out each day?
SW: Every morning, before I can eat breakfast, I have to drink a cup of fresh ginger tea that I let boil for 20-30mins. It gets my insides nice and warm and gives me a nice kick of energy before starting the day! 

I am a Dance Centre member because...?
SW: ...
because the Dance Centre continues to be a space where I can keep developing as an artist and allows me to be a part of a growing and inspiring community!

April 2019: Lesley Telford / Inverso Productions
Q&A with Lesley Telford
IG @lesley.telford

Photo by Michael Slobodian

Who is Lesley Telford/Inverso Productions? 
LT: I am a mom, teacher, choreographer, producer and always a dancer, even though I don’t really dance as much anymore! Inverso Productions was started out of the will to create new work in Vancouver combining dance with other mediums, such as the visual arts, text and literature, theatre, film, music and science.

What was your path to building a career in dance? 
LT: I started dancing when I was 5 because my feet were turned in. I dove into ballet (despite the turned-in technique), continued training at École Supérieure de Danse and got my first job with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, many Nutcrackers later. The artistic director of Les Grands, Larry Rhodes, who recently passed away,  brought in choreographers such as Jiri Kylian, Ohad Naharin, Nacho Duato. Being in Montreal connected me to some very exciting voices in dance. I moved to Spain to dance with Nacho Duato and later moved to the Netherlands where I worked with Jiri Kylian, Crystal Pite and many other wonderful artists and felt the urge to begin choreographing.

How would you describe the work you do in three words?
Dynamic. Intellectual. Emotional (in a way that finds mechanisms for emotional states)

What inspires the work you create?
LT: Most of my work deals with human relationships and those hard to define paradoxes we live with. Dance has served to tap into subconscious themes I am dealing with in my own life. It has become the means through which it is possible to communicate on a level beyond words, while also serving as a mode of self reflection. I try to create situations that can propel dancers and spectators into something unpredictable.

Do you have any memories of moments or people that have influenced your artistic trajectory?
LT: When I joined Nederlands Dans Theater, I was lucky enough to create new work with Jiri Kylian. I was in awe of the generosity of his process while working with complexity and clarity. Everyone knew what they were investing every ounce of their energy in and this created magic. Jiri is the master of creating an atmosphere with this balance of freedom and specificity. This is something I continue to strive for in my own practice. Other major influences are Crystal Pite and her extraordinary craft and vision, my daughter Saya who inspires most of my ideas, and Arty Gordon who is a wonderfully supportive friend and mentor.

What are the core values of your practice? 
LT: Respect, intensity and creating an honest and real impulse for why we move in a way the performers can own.

Do you have any particular ritual that you carry out each day? 
Gardening. It reminds me to be patient and wait for seeds to grow! I think it relates to having been a nomad most of my life and these past few years have been the first time in my life I can slowly but steadily grow something!

I am a Dance Centre member because...
LT: The Dance Centre is an extremely supportive institution that is more like a team of invested individuals. They are there to help realize ideas, to connect people and provide support through their programs. I returned to Vancouver about 5 years ago, and The Dance Centre welcomed me openly, introduced me to the community here and offered opportunities to develop my work as a choreographer and director in a place I call home.

March 2019: Kababayang Pilipino
Q&A with Randy Romero
IG: @kababayangpilipino
FB: KababayangPilipino
TW: kpbc

Photo by Leah Villalobos

Tell us a bit about your company Kababayang Pilipino and the work you do?
Founded in 1993, Kababayang Pilipino is a cultural performing arts group dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the Filipino folk heritage through its presentation of dance and music. Conceived for youth, by youth, this vibrant group provides the opportunity for its members to educate themselves and in turn, educate the community at large about the rich history and culture of the Filipino.

What inspires the productions you create?
I am inspired by exploring traditional Filipino folk dance forms in the context of what it means to be a folk dance practitioner in a contemporary world, as a Filipino artist not living in their homeland. I look for ways to connect the past to the present and for the performing artists that I work with find a way to express their cultural identity.

What are that values that are nurtured through traditional Filipino dance?
RR: The values that are nurtured through traditional Filipino dance are:  beauty, group work, connection, family, integrity, joy, passion and love.  

How would you describe your work in three words?
Journey. Energy. Love

Are there many artistic elements that go into traditional Filipino dances: costumes, music, or sets?
We aim to utilize traditional costuming in our presentations, featuring the broad spectrum of dance styles and influences including indigenous Filipino, Arabic-Malayan, Spanish and western vestiges. Our presentations also feature live musical accompaniment performed by our own artists. A lot of our choreography has been developed for a theatrical stage setting.

What do you hope your productions give to the audience?
: As performing artists, we seek to find meaning and truth in our work.  I hope that our performances inspire our audiences to find their own artistic voice and outlet for expression.

We are Dance Centre members because...
It is our home.  We have been lucky to be rehearsing at Scotiabank Dance Centre since 2002. Thank you for your support!

January 2019: Q&A with Jenna Mazur
IG: @jenmaz

Video still from Refract / Jenna Mazur photo

Who is Jenna Mazur in a sentence?
I am an emerging contemporary dance artist with a background in visual arts, digital media and creative writing. 

You’re currently in your 4th year of the Vancouver-based contemporary dance training program Modus Operandi. What drew you to pursue training in contemporary dance and, ultimately, a career as a dance artist?
In high school I received really stellar grades. By graduation I had a full entrance scholarship to UBC, with my intended major being visual arts, but nothing drew me in and challenged me as much as dance did. It was so difficult! I guess that ongoing challenge was a large part of why I chose to commit everything to my dance training. The precarity of it is pretty thrilling... 

What / who are some of your artistic influencers?
So many people in Vancouver inspire me, whether in class, performance or just by being really intriguing personalities. I feel like I’m everyone’s fangirl! Internationally, I’m taken away by Peeping Tom and Eastman/Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.

What kind of projects have you undertaken as a creator?
Recently, I choreographed a pop up performance for The Dance Centre’s holiday party.  It was a site-specific piece performed by 13 peers. I’ve also created four dance films so far, and really enjoy working with video. The editing process in post-production may be my favourite part; it’s like choreographing the dance all over again.

You once attempted to walk all the streets in downtown Vancouver, taking 9 hours. What prompted this urban exploration, any discoveries made?
I had some free time in the summer and wondered if it would be possible to walk all the streets in one day. This was in part inspired by some group hikes at the Banff Centre’s Creative Gesture residency in August, where we wouldn't talk, but would tune into the environment around us more closely. During my Vancouver walk, I discovered so much, but one thing I really noticed was that people only said hi to each other when it was morning, and on the streets near the beaches... (More info on my walk here:

 How would you describe your philosophy as a dance artist in three words?
Endless learning possibilities.

Do you have any artistic plans for 2019?
This year is going to be really exciting. I have a solo I want to develop, as well as google docs full of sketches for future pieces. I’m curious about what will happen once I’m graduated and have an open schedule for the first time ever. I can’t wait to collaborate with people, and become closer to the community.

I am a Dance Centre member because…
It is a pillar in the dance community. Through classes, performances and events, I’ve gotten to know so many people. And the studio rentals are necessary!