CanAsian Dance’s KickStart program, in collaboration with Tangente and Festival Accès Asie, commissions Canadian choreographers, challenging them to develop and perform a short work that represents a significant new direction or constructive disruption in their approach to choreography. This year’s program features choreographers from Halifax, Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montréal.
Artistic & Development Director
Festival Accès Asie
Independent Dance Artist
Keiko Kitano Thomson
Independent Dance Artist
Laurane Van Branteghem
Curator & Programming Coordinator
Co-creation and performance Shion Skye Carter and Miya Turnbull
Music Stefan Andrei Nazarevich
Dramaturgy Julie Tamiko Manning
Lighting design Jareth Li
While Miya Turnbull and Shion Skye Carter’s artistic practices differ in form and discipline, there are many overlaps in the themes that they explore. Miya’s multi-disciplinary visual arts practice centers around creating new variations of the self through masks, sculptures, photos, and video. Her self-portraits act as symbols for persona, self-image, and half-Japanese identity, and are often manipulated to create distorted representations. Carter creates performances researching the body’s dynamic capabilities from subtle gestures to visceral intensity, while incorporating elements such as calligraphy, sculpture, live sound, and video. Like Turnbull, Carter explores her mixed Japanese Canadian heritage, while also intersecting with her queer identity; personal experiences of cultural displacement infuses her work with images of bodies embedding themselves into unfamiliar environments. Both artists dive into the space within defined margins, honing in on the transitory nature of identity, duality, and in-betweenness as they look inward to process the world around them.
Shion Skye Carter (she/they) is a dance artist originally from Tajimi, Japan, who lives and dedicates time to her artistic practice in Vancouver, Canada, as a guest on the unceded, ancestral lands of the Coast Salish peoples. Through choreography hybridized with heritage art forms that interact with digital and sculptural objects, Shion’s work looks inward to the facets of her intersectional identity as a lens to process the world around her. As co-founder of interdisciplinary duo olive theory with musician Stefan Nazarevich, she collaborates at the intersection between embodied performance, installation art, and live sound. Shion has performed in cities across Canada, and interpreted the works of prolific artists such as Vanessa Goodman (Action at a Distance), Wen Wei Dance, plastic orchid factory, and Ziyian Kwan (Dumb Instrument Dance). She holds a BFA from Simon Fraser University, and is the 2022 recipient of the Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award.
Miya Turnbull is a multi-disciplinary visual artist of mixed Japanese Canadian ancestry. She graduated from the University of Lethbridge (Alberta) with a BFA and currently lives in K’jipuktuk (Halifax, NS), on the ancestral and unceded land of the Mi’kmaq People. She works with many different mediums but is primarily a mask-maker, and new to her practice is performance. She focuses on Self-Portraits, using her Photo-Mask technique to make life-like representations of her face, often distorting and manipulating her image in various ways, which she then wears as a ‘false face’ or ‘second skin’. She has exhibited her masks, photos, and video in galleries such as Gallery 101 (Ottawa), JCCC Gallery (Toronto), Kishka Gallery (US), Maximiliansforum (Germany), and The Beaney (UK). Miya has been very fortunate to receive the support of Arts N.S. and the Canada Council for the Arts, which has allowed her artwork to flourish.
Stefan Andrei Nazarevich is an artist based in Vancouver, Canada, on the unceded, traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples. His compositions, performances, and installations utilize meticulous, architectural music production, turning the emergent artifacts of failing technology into aesthetic sonic objects. Under the alias SAN, Stefan released his debut EP Haven in 2019. Along with Shion Skye Carter, he is one half of the duo olive theory, whose debut work reach-close (2019) features an interactive, sculptural, amplified piano wire installation, performed with plucking, violin bows, and the scraping of shaved heads. His work has been presented at events such as Vancouver International Dance Festival (2019/2022), Vines Art Festival (2020), and the Darmstadt International Summer Course (2018, Germany). A frequent interdisciplinary collaborator, Stefan has been commissioned to compose for numerous dance artists, including Noam Gagnon (Vision Impure), Josh Beamish (MOVE The Company), Wen Wei Wang, and Ralph Escamillan (FakeKnot).
Julie Tamiko Manning is an award-winning actor and theatre creator from Tiohtià:ke/Montréal. Selected acting credits include From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in The Sea (Geordie Productions), Jonathan: a seagull parable (Surreal SoReal), Paradise Lost (Centaur Theatre), Jean Dit (Centre du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui), Butcher (Centaur Theatre) and Othello (Scapegoat Carnivale/Segal Centre). She is currently finishing her play Mizushōbai, about Kiyoko Tanaka Goto, a Japanese picture-bride turned ‘underground’ business woman in 1930s in British Columbia, slated for production in the 2023/24 season. She is Co-Artistic Producer of Tashme Productions with Ottawa artist, Matt Miwa. Their documentary play, The Tashme Project: The Living Archives, a verbatim account of the Japanese Canadian internment experience told through childhood memories of their elders, was recently published in the anthology Scripting (Im)migration and is now being adapted into a graphic novel with Nikkei artist PJ Patten. Julie is a proud Sansei (third generation) Japanese Canadian and is an apprentice member of the taiko group Arashi Daiko.
Choreography and performance Ashvini Sundaram and Yui Ugai
Dramaturgy Anita La Selva
Music Diego Marulanda
Costume design Michiko Inoue
Lighting design Jareth Li
In the process of creating this duet, we will use the elements of traditional dance of each other’s cultures (Japanese and Indian) and explore how these elements can be used in dialogue with one another, as we look towards a future that holds space for multidimensional cultural representation with preservation and hybridity at the core. We are interested in new discoveries that feed the exchange of creatives processes, cultural aesthetics and the new possibilities that mirror the resonance of our cultural movements.
Ashvini Sundaram (pronounced uh·sh-vi-nee su-ntha-rum) is a dance artist trained in bharatanatyam. Born in Singapore, raised in Vancouver and trained in India, Ashvini explores questions regarding embodied knowledge, multi-cultural identity and decoloniality. Her work Art of Time, created through York University’s MFA program, uses cultural knowledge about cyclical time to disrupt the much-reiterated view that dance is ephemeral. Ashvini continues to contextualize her traditional practice in Canada, targeting questions related to sensuality and spirituality as seen in her repertoire Shringara, meaning “erotic love”, presented at New Work’s All Over the Map on Granville Island in 2022, and in her short film VASANTHAM, presented at CanAsian Dance Festival 25!, dance made in Canada festival, and F-O-R-M in 2022. Ashvini is a humble recipient of federal, provincial, and local awards, such as the Chrystal Dance Prize from Dance Victoria and grants from Canada Council for the Arts and BC Arts Council.
Yui Ugai was born in Hiroshima, Japan. She majored in drama in high school and studied dance and music at Kobe Jogakuin University. Yui obtained professional ballet training at the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), and she was awarded a prize for excellence in dance by the magazine Dance Dance Dance in 2008. Yui holds a BFA and MFA in Dance from York University in Toronto. She has received an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, York Graduate Scholarship, YU Graduate Fellowship, and W. Lawrence Heisey Graduate Awards in Fine Arts during her study. She has also received a Toronto Shinkikai Scholarship, Takatazuka Doi Airin Scholarship, Hiroshima Cultural Foundation Scholarship in Arts, and Dora Mavor Moore Awards nomination. She has danced and toured nationally and internationally with The Toronto Blue Jays, Skindivers, Limitless Productions, The Parahumans, Little Pear Garden Dance Company, Ballet Creole, Kashe Dance Company, Kaeja d’Dance, Anima Inc. (Mexico/Peru), and more. Her research involves looking into traditional Japanese performing art forms and exploring what it means for her body and her identity to live at the intersection of her Japanese origins and her experience with Canadian dance companies.
Anita La Selva is an award-winning director, dramaturg, actor and creator, and is the 2019 recipient of the Gina Wilkinson Award for Emerging Female Director. Her focus as an artist is in creating interdisciplinary, intercultural work that reflects the world we live in today. Her unique style of combining text with movement, dance and music has made her a popular director, co-creator and consultant on numerous inter-disciplinary projects. She holds an MFA in Directing from York University and has been an artist mentor through the Toronto Arts Council and The Buddies Emerging Creators’ Unit. Anita teaches regularly in the York University and Seneca College acting programs.
Katherine Ng (Ottawa)
calm and dormant with strength and power; sinuous and flowing
Choreography and performance Katherine Ng
Music Jonathan Joseph Bendavid
Rehearsal direction Jocelyn Todd
Lighting design Jareth Li
Dramaturgy Daniel Mroz
Katherine Ng has been actively working as a professional dancer since 2014. Born and raised in Ottawa, she graduated from The School of Dance’s Contemporary Dance Diploma, under director Sylvie Desrosiers. Her career began in Montréal, where Katherine had the opportunity to perform and create with <AP&A>, Interlope, La Tresse, and many more, while participating in many international dance festivals. She also had the opportunity to work on a touring production called Pearl Production with choreographer Daniel Ezralow. Where East meets West, Pearl Production had an exchange with dancers from Nanjing, China. Her last contract was with MGM in Macau, where she had worked with Michael Jackson’s trusty choreographer Travis Payne. Currently, she is working with Ottawa Dance Directives and recently performed a work by Jocelyn Todd and Tedd Robinson.
Born in Jerusalem and raised in Toronto, Jonathan Joseph Bendavid is a performing musician and composer. He studied jazz at the Lin and Ted Arison Israel Conservatory of Music specializing in trumpet. Jonathan is published on all major streaming platforms with over 2000 monthly listeners in over 95 countries and has more than 130,000 streams. In July 2023 he performed at the New Orleans Jazz Festival in Tel Aviv with the Fanga Gospel Choir as a tenor vocalist and musical arranger. Jonathan is a passionate R&B singer and a guitarist in many styles, including Jazz, R&B, and contemporary. He has collaborated on numerous video-based projects with Canadian performance artist MBD and contemporary dance artist Laura Toma.
Jocelyn Todd graduated from post-secondary contemporary dance training at The School of Dance in Ottawa in 2012 and soon after moved to London (UK), where she studied a wide variety of both classical and progressive dance concepts from world-renowned choreographers and teachers. Jocelyn was one of three emerging choreographers chosen to be mentored in creation by Peter Boneham through Projet Brut in 2015 and is the co-founder of the creation and presentation platform called Dark Horse Dance Projects (2015-2022). She has created and presented her choreographic work in both London (UK) and Ottawa after creating relationships with presenters and schools and collaborating with artists in both cities. Most recently, Jocelyn was supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and Ottawa Dance Directive (ODD) to present two of her works, the A team and Time + Light, as part of ODD’s Series Dance 10/Séries Danse 10 anniversary shows.
Laura Wheeler is a jack of all trades working as a technical director by day and a designer/stage manager by night. You can find her in her office at the Ottawa Dance Directive or operating rock and roll lighting at The Algonquin Commons Theatre. She has designed and stage managed for over a decade within the Ottawa Theatre community with various production companies including Pellegrini Opera, Eddie May Murder Mysteries, Skeleton Key Theatre, Parry Riposte Productions, Plosive Theatre, Black Sheep Theatre, SevenThirty Productions, Three Sisters Theatre Company and Counterpoint Players, and is delighted to now expand her repertoire into the world of dance.
Daniel Mroz directs original theatre in Canada and teaches actors, directors, dancers, and choreographers internationally. He has been a professor in the Department of Theatre of the University of Ottawa since 2005. He began practicing Chinese martial arts in 1993. He is the author of The Dancing Word (2011), a book about the Chinese martial arts in the creation of contemporary theatre, and he contributes regularly to the scholarly research area of martial arts studies.
Choreography and performance Joy Rider
Performance Lia Jasmine, Komodo
Dramaturgy Gerard X Reyes
Lighting design Jareth Li
In the performance, I will use elements of traditional Filipino costuming, dance, and theatrics combined with aspects of classic and neo-burlesque. The Philippines experienced 300 years of Spanish colonial rule, resulting in a restrictive, conservative culture that seeks to control female sexuality. By contrasting these cultural expectations with the sex-positivity of burlesque, a dialogue about the complexities of living in the diaspora in a racialized body emerges.
The challenge of creating a longer-form performance within the context of dance provides a unique and exciting opportunity that expands on my current practice as a movement artist. Burlesque performances are often time-limited to a maximum of 4 minutes. Choreographing a work that is 15-20 minutes long provides opportunities for creative exploration, such as examining how to sustain the tension and anticipation of the final reveal.
Marbella Carlos is an interdisciplinary artist born in Manila, Philippines, based in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal. Her recent performance work as Joy Rider has led to multiple awards and international performances, including at Fierté Montréal 2019, Teaser Festival New Orleans, and Bagel Burlesque Expo. She was the winner of the prestigious Best Debut category at the top burlesque competition in the world, the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas (Nevada). She holds a BFA (University of Calgary), a BEd (University of Toronto OISE), and an MA (Concordia University, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada SGS Master’s), is a Storytellers National Finalist, and more.