Allen Kaeja (Co-Artistic Director, Choreographer, Performer, Cinematographer, M.A. Dance York University)
is an internationally recognized and award winning choreographer and filmmaker. Invited in 1981 by the Ontario Olympic Wrestling Federation to compete for “the team,” he chose dance as his career instead. Since 1982, he has created over a 160 dance pieces and has directed and/or choreographed for twenty-seven films. He is Co-Artistic Director of Kaeja d’Dance with his wife Karen Kaeja. He is co-founder of the CanAsian Dance Festival (1996-present) and fFIDA (1991-2000). His stage works have been presented in festivals around the world, including in India, Israel, Mexico, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the UK, the USA, Venezuela, as well as at the VANOC Cultural Olympiad through Chutzpah! Festival. He has also received a number of commissions from national dance companies (including Mary-Louise Albert, Ballet Jörgen Canada, and Marie-Josée Chartier) and international dance companies from India, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, the UK, and the USA, among others. His awards include the prestigious Paul D. Fleck, K.M. Hunter, and Clifford E. Lee Choreography Awards (Canada), the Bonnie Bird Award (UK), a UNESCO citation, and the Moving Picture Award for best performance (Canada). He also performed as Pushkin in Moze Mossanen’s Gemini-winning dance film Nureyev. He has worked in collaboration with and as a choreographer for exceptional theatre directors and companies such as Albert Shultz (Soulpepper); Gillian Raby (Brock University); and Jason Sherman (Factory Theatre).
In addition, Kaeja films have been screened all across the globe and have been nominated for a Gemini and the Banff World Television Festival Awards (Canada), and the American Choreography Awards (Los Angeles) . They have received special ‘Jury Mentions’ from IMZ (Europe) and American Dance Festival (USA). The Kaeja films are also a part of the permanent collection at the MoMA and the Jewish Museum in New York, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Israel, and in a new exhibit at the Museum of Civilization opening 2015, as well as many university libraries. Kaeja has just completed sweet exit for the Contact International Dance Film Festival, starring Karen Kaeja and musician Daniel Payne. He is filming Extraordinary TO Dances for the Canada 150 project: Dance Film with 22 Dance Artists; broadcasters FibeTV1 (Canada) and MarqueeArts (UK).
Allen and Karen Kaeja teach Master classes in Kaeja Elevations, Contact Dance, Improvisation, and Dance Film. They are also currently on faculty at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre (since 1991) and Brock Univeristy (2013 – present). As well, Allen has taught Partnering and Dance Film at Ryerson University since 2002. He has published his second book, entitled Transcending Media: Adapting the Dance Production Asylum of Spoons, from Stage to Film. He is currently working on his third book, Kaeja Elevations, for which he has completed principle cinematography and photography.
Allen Kaeja worked as the International Guest Choreographer and Judge for Mexico’s Canal22 and their dance reality series Opera Prima. His commission from Ballet Jörgen Canada, YET AGAIN (2015), a quartet for four powerful men, continues to tour nationally and internationally with the company. He also completed the ROGUE show (2015), his first solo show ever, with Director/Dramaturge, Bruce Barton.
Kaeja recently won the Kathryn Ash 2016 Choreography Award, and was nominated for the 2015 Ontario Arts Foundation Artist Educator Award, exemplifying excellence in arts education and demonstrating a unique approach to the arts education practice. Allen and Karen were finalists in the TD Diversity Award 2013, Now Magazines “Best Local Choreographer 2011” and Canadian Dance Assembly I Love Dance National Awards for Innovation and Community 2012, winning the latter. They were also listed in the Globe and Mails BEST DANCE 2012 for Porch View Dances.
Allen and Karen Kaeja have also co-developed many site-specific and audience interactive engagement performance strategies over the past 30 years. These include: Porch View Dances (2012 – present); Downtown Dances (2017 & 2016 with Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada); Animating Historic Spaces – Montgomery’s Inn (2016 & 2014); Fools Paradise – Open Doors Ontario (2015); ROGUE show (2015); fFIDA 1991; fFIDA with CBC Toronto 1992 and 1993; Canada Dance Festival with CBC Ottawa (1996), and Savage Garden (1989).
The Kaejas completed their highly successful 25th Anniversary Concert featuring two new creations: .0 by Allen: “[Allen Kaeja’s] choreography is powerfully physical. Dancers collide, play off each other’s momentum, and rise into the air in mechanically complex lifts and shoulder rolls.” and Taxi! by Karen: “[Karen’s] work is…humanistic, lyrical and emotionally nuanced. Taxi! is about the vagaries of coupling, the journey whose unexpected turns lead to brief encounters and sometimes to unexpected connections.” The Toronto Star. The overall concert: “a program of new work showing that age has hardly withered its strength. It’s made it bolder. Physical daring … where there are no boundaries…spunk, subtle poignancy and unmistakable sense of humour” – Critics at Large.
They also completed their newest lifeDUETs series which was presented at Theatre Centre in October 2015. As well, Kaeja d’Dance was runner-up as Now Magazines “Best Local company 2015”. Allen has been included in Canada’s Who’s Who since 2001.
Allen and Karen Kaeja have recently completed CONSUMED, a new choreography for The Edge in the UK (2017) and will create a new work for Delfos Danza in Mexico (2018). They have recently toured their lifeDUETs concert to Moncton, NB, and Vancouver’s VIDF 2017. As well Allen’s .0 and Karen’s Touch toured in a six city tour to Mexico in 2016. They also performed and taught in Japan March 2017. They’re newest concert CRAVE/DEFIANT completed at the Theatre Centre in May 2017. The overall concert: “bold, innovative and sometimes downright zany contemporary dance” – Toronto Star.
Allen has just completed Xtraordinary TO Dances and Dance Film in two parts. Part 1 – Live Feed had over 4,000 views in 24 hours and Part 2 – 4K one minute solos is scheduled for broadcast with BellMedia in August 2017 and MarqueeArts (UK) in September 2017.