uelph Dance was founded by Janet Johnson and Catrina von Radecki in 1998. This year marks the dance company’s 25th anniversary, and a special festival celebration will take place June 1-4 to mark the occasion.
“Janet and I founded Guelph Dance because we found there was not really an established dance community in place,” says Catrina, Artistic Director.
“Fueled by the belief that dancers should be able to live, dance, and work outside major metropolitan areas, we decided to create this community. After 25 years of developing relationships and providing opportunities, Guelph Dance reaches more than 5,000 people with annual activities and performances. These include the Guelph Dance Festival, workshops in schools, march break and summer camps, as well as a variety of community engagement activities and local Initiatives.”
The anniversary celebration festival starts on June 1 with a mainstage presentation of Radical Vitality by Compagnie Marie Chouinard at the River Run Centre.
“Radical Vitality is a full-length work that includes duets and solos from Chouinard’s incredible repertoire of works from the past 40 years,” says Catrina. “Marie Chouinard is an icon of contemporary dance, not just in Canada but internationally and we are honoured and privileged to welcome her to our community. It is new for the dance festival to have a Thursday event in the big theatre and an incredible way to launch our 25th anniversary. This is definitely a show not to be missed!”
On June 2nd (7 pm) and June 3rd and 4th (noon), the family friendly and audience favourite In the Park series takes place.
“This year features artists from Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, and Guelph. From OURO Collectives’ hip hop moves, to Fila 13 Productions’ compelling and intricate movement, to Rock Bottom’s stylized movement (which includes a cast of 40 pre-professional dancers), to local artist Kween’s piece embodying Black beauty at its core, the diverse and eclectic programming of the In the Park series is sure to have something for everyone,” says Catrina. “This event is accessed with a pay-what-you-can donation.”
The festival will include a beer garden as part of the In the Park series on Friday, June 2. It will be open at 6 pm with a Wellington Brewery offering beer and non-alcoholic beverages for purchase. Local food trucks El Milagro and Schmuck Truck will also be on site. From 8:30 pm to 10 pm, festival goers are invited to enjoy DJ Classic Roots who will be bringing his unique brand of Electronica and pow wow techno.
Catrina adds, “New this year, in celebration of our 25 years, will be free workshops in Exhibition Park. On Saturday, June 3rd at 10:30 am Alyssa Martin from Rock Bottom will teach a dance class for people with no previous experience and on Sunday at 10:30 am, you can learn some new hip hop moves with members of the OURO Collective.
“Many have fallen in love with Katie Ewald’s Short and Sweet series, which was transformed into Double Time last year. Double Time is returning this year with many local and national artists randomly paired to create two short works. This event takes place on Saturday, June 3rd at 8 pm at the Royal City Mission Church.”
Each month since November 2022, Guelph Dance has been releasing a film commissioned by Guelph Dance and curated by Aria Evans. On the festival’s Saturday, at 5 pm, Guelph Dance will present a screening of all nine films. Many of the artists will be there to discuss their films and answer questions.
On behalf of Guelph Dance Catrina, says a very big thank you.
“I cannot say enough about the Guelph Dance staff members, Adriana Roselli and Leslie Fisher. Their passion and commitment are unwavering. We also have many new board members. I am so thankful for the energy and direction these volunteers bring to our organization as we move into the next 25 years. I am also immensely thankful to the artists for continuing to commit to their work after enduring the hardships of the pandemic and for all the volunteers who devote their time and energy to ensure the festival as well as the camps we run throughout the year run smoothly.”
What does the future hold for Guelph Dance? Catrina concludes, “We are excited to announce that Aria Evans, who has been a guest curator with Guelph Dance over the past two years in the role of curating screen dances, will take on the position of Associate Festival Curator. We are already planning some very exciting performances for the 26th annual Guelph Dance Festival and will announce these details next April!”
Stay tuned by following the action online and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.