This year Fall For Dance North was thrown a curveball when COVID-19 took the main stage and tried to steal the spotlight. However, like any true artist, nothing can hold back the flow of creative energy and so the 6th edition of Fall For Dance North is taking the stage in a very digital way.
We were lucky enough to have the chance to interview one of the main dancers from this year’s festival but before we introduce you to Samantha, we wanted to highlight a few of the other aspects of Fall For Dance North.
While the main event is the highlight, there are a ton of other free events you can take part in that will teach you a lot about the industry, even if you are already familiar with it. One of our personal favourites has been Conversations in a Bathtub. Yes, you read that right, Bran Ramsey is the host of this little project and interviews Toronto dance artists as they talk about their lives, projects they are working on, and of course, how they are dealing with COVID-19. This series of six is full of fun off-the-wall convos, and lots of suds. Check out the series here for free.
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Nicole Hamilton of Turn Out Radio and Fall For Dance North’s artistic director, Ilter Ibrahimof host, Mambo: A New Podcast From FFDN. This is a podcast you need to add to your playlist today. Nicole and Ilter bring you stories about encounters with dance, first-hand and new experiences, and how dance has lead them into human and humorous exchanges. Check it out here.
If you really want a behind the scenes look you can catch a glimpse of the dancers at work. Be a witness to new choreography being created and learned via livestream. If you are in the Toronto area you can also watch outside through glass at TO’s Live’s Meridian Hall West Lounge. All rehearsals are 90 mins in length and can be viewed here.
This is just a few of the many events, workshops, and talent you will see from Fall For Dance North 2020 but the real action is their signature program which started last month and runs until October 18th, 2020 and this year is titled “The Flip Side”.
Fall For Dance North & Red Sky Performance
A member of the Ktunaxa Nation in British Columbia, Samantha Sutherland is a new Associate Artist and dancer with Toronto-based Indigenous contemporary dance company Red Sky Performance. A 2018 graduate of B.C.’s Arts Umbrella Dance program, Sutherland has performed works by Sharon Eyal, Mats Ek, and Aszure Barton, and was a 2019/20 guest artist with Ballet BC in their production of Romeo and Juliet, before moving to Toronto to join Red Sky Performance.
Sutherland will make her Red Sky Performance debut in the company’s new work, FLOW, as part of the 6th edition of Toronto’s premier international dance festival, Fall for Dance North (FFDN), which runs until Oct. 18. Reimagined as a live and virtual festival for 2020, FFDN will present a Signature Livestream Program featuring six world premieres—including Red Sky Performance—as well as the mentioned bevy of free digital content available at the company’s brand new, Netflix-style website at ffdnorth.com.
FEO Magazine: What inspired you to pursue dance?
Samantha Sutherland: I can’t imagine myself pursuing a career that isn’t physical. I experience so much joy and fulfillment when dancing. It’s so exciting to see what the human body is capable of executing. The possibilities are endless! And when this wide range of physical movements is paired with the goal of expressing human feeling, it is magic. This is what inspires me to work as a professional dancer.
FM: What have been some of your proudest achievements in your dance career so far?
SS: Having the opportunity to perform with Ballet BC last season was one of my proudest moments. It was an amazing experience to take part in the rehearsals of a professional company and perform alongside such talented artists. Another proud moment is what I’m doing right now! Working with Red Sky has been amazing.
FM: How did you become involved in Red Sky Performance and as an Associate Artist?
SS: Not too long ago I became aware of Red Sky Performance and was blown away by their high caliber of dance and integration of Indigenous culture. I expressed my interest in working with the company and got to know everyone through a few auditions and visits. I was very excited when I was offered the position of Associate Artist and couldn’t wait to get started.
FM: As a member of the Ktunaxa Nation, what does it mean for you to dance with a contemporary Indigenous company?
SS: This is what excites me the most about working with Red Sky. I’ve always strived to work in a contemporary dance company but I never thought that I would have the opportunity to pull my Indigenous identity into my work. I feel honoured to be able to identify myself as a Ktunaxa woman in my work and practice.
FM: How has COVID-19 impacted your dance practice?
SS: Oh man, where to start? Our whole world of performing arts has been flipped on its head! Like many people, I found myself in moments of floating and not quite knowing how to proceed. It’s difficult to realize that the environment you’ve committed yourself to and grown to love will never be the same again. Over the past few months I’ve looked for ways to tap into my creativity and passion to move but I won’t say it was easy! Recently though it has been exciting to see how dance makers are adapting to their new surroundings and making it work for them. I am very inspired by these people because it takes a lot of courage to abandon what you knew and try something else. I’m excited to see where contemporary dance will go from here!
FM: What are you working on now?
SS: Right now I am in the studio with Red Sky Performance working on a new creation, FLOW, for Fall for Dance North! It has been such a blessing to be back in a studio working alongside amazing and talented colleagues. I’m very much looking forward to our livestream show coming up very soon!
Tickets for FFDN’s Signature Livestream Program are $15 at ffdnorth.com. The dance festival runs until Oct. 18, so make sure to catch the final days before it is too late.