From our Artistic Director:

As you read this, our annual Summer School has now finished, and a new group of energetic and enthusiastic young dancers will have enjoyed exploring technique and repertory with some of our superb faculty. Our roster of contemporary technique teachers included the eminent Christopher House, Artistic Director of Toronto Dance Theatre, as well as Patricia Miner, Julia Sasso, and Darryl Tracy, all highly regarded and accomplished members of our Professional Training Program (PTP) faculty. Graham technique was taught by core faculty members Wendy Chiles, Rosemary James, and Helen Jones, all superlative practitioners of this demanding discipline, who were joined this summer by guest teachers Coralee McLaren and Michelle Zimmerman. Repertory was directed or created by James, Sasso, and Tracy, joined by Jennifer Dallas and Sharon Moore, both distinguished alumnae of our PTP.

More than likely, several of the young dancers participating in the Summer School will be joining us in September for the first year of our Professional Training Program, and the cycle will begin again.

We are pleased to profile below our luminary Kathryn Ash Choreographic Award winner, Heidi Strauss; our recent graduate and soon-to-be Toronto Dance Theatre intern, Danah Rosales; and our talented student Noelle Young, who will enter her second year of our PTP in the fall.

For now, at the height of summer, we wish you all a wonderful period of rejuvenation and re-invigoration, and we look forward to re-connecting with you again in the fall. 

Patricia Fraser
Artistic Director

Choreographer profile – Heidi Strauss

heidi headshot copyHeidi Strauss is a graduate of our Professional Training Program, and a Toronto-based dance artist who has worked for many years as an independent dancer and performer. She has danced with Fujiwara Dance Inventions, Sylvain Émard Danse, and Tribal Crackling Wind. In theatre and opera, she has choreographed for the Canadian Opera Company, the Frankfurt Opera, Necessary Angel, and Volcano Theatre, and worked as rehearsal director for Chartier Danse, O Vertigo, and Tribal Crackling Wind.

Benefitting from these varied experiences, Heidi developed a long-term partnership with Darryl Tracy in the commissioning collective Four Chambers. They presented three mixed programs with pan-Canadian choreographers, and an international commission.  During this period Heidi began to develop her own solo works, and in 2008 she turned her focus more fully towards creation.   She founded adelheid dance projects, and soon after became the first resident dance artist at the Factory Theatre (2008-12), which enabled the presentation of three full-evening works including the multi-Dora award winning this time.  Two years later she created Everyday Anthems, a full evening group work for Toronto Dance Theatre presented by Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage, to audience and critical acclaim.

With a keen interest in the development of the dance form, for nearly four years she was Co-Artistic Director of hub14, implementing and facilitating new residency possibilities for research and creation, as well as performance platforms.  She supports the process of other creators as an outside eye, teaches regularly, and has worked in theatre, opera, and film as a performer and movement coach/choreographer.

In the past year, Heidi performed works by Sylvie Desrosiers, Sylvain Émard, Jenn Goodwin, and Ginette Laurin.  She also remounted her solo work still here for performances in Toronto, Ottawa, and Banff.

She is at work on elsewhere, a new creation to premiere at DanceWorks this September and tour to Montreal, Peterborough, and Oakville.  As well, a series of short films based on elsewhere and directed by Laura Taler will be screened on Pattison One-Stop digital platforms across the country.

Heidi is the co-recipient, along with PTP alumnus D.A. Hoskins, of the 2012 KM Hunter Award for Dance and she is currently is a resident artist at the Theatre Centre in Toronto.

We are delighted that in the coming year, as the winner of this year’s Kathryn Ash Choreographic Award, Heidi will create a new work for our 2014-15 third year class. 


photo credit: Jeremy Mimnagh


Recent graduate profile – Danah Rosales

School of Toronto Dance Theater 2014At the Gala Award Evening this past May, Danah, along with fellow graduate Marco Placencio, won this year’s Kathryn Ash Leadership Award. The Leadership Award is presented to a third year student or students who have displayed leadership qualities and have made a significant contribution to the life of the School. The award is named in honour of Kathryn Ash, our Past President and a Board member for 18 years, and recognizes Kathryn’s dedication to the School and the role model she has provided to us all. 

Danah contributed to the life of the School in so many ways – as President of the Student Council, as Student Representative to the Board of Directors, and in many other School activities.  Faculty and choreographers noted that she is an excellent dancer and performer, generous with her fellow dancers, a warm presence in class, and a lovely human being.

Her schoolmates commended her by saying, “Danah played a fundamental role in bonding the entire school this year. She made all the first years feel very welcome; she was very active in organizing events for both her class and the whole school, and she is very thoughtful and supportive.”

Last year’s award winner, Mateo Galindo Torres, sent Danah his congratulations and said, “From the time of her arrival at the School, Danah showed amazing organizational skills and became a very strong voice for her class. From producing the Coffee House to being involved in every School activity, Danah was always a joy to have around and to work with. What both Marco and Danah excel at is overcoming challenging situations with the best outcome for themselves and the people around them. Danah is the mother of a young son, and regardless of her additional responsibilities at home, she always gives her best and is always pushing forward.”

Upon her graduation from the Professional Training Program, Danah was invited by Christopher House, Artistic Director of Toronto Dance Theatre, to join the company in the fall as one of two TD Interns.

We congratulate Danah, and wish her wonderful dance future!

photo credit: Cylla von Tiedemann

Current student profile – Noelle Young

noelle headshot copyNoelle Young started dancing in her home community of Chilliwack, BC.  A highlight of her training was traveling to Frankfurt, Germany on Team Canada for the World Dance Championships in 2012.  One of the guest teachers in her studio in Chilliwack was Josh Beamish, who choreographed a solo for her in her last year. He recommended the School of TDT’s Summer School, which Noelle thoroughly enjoyed.    “I knew I wanted to focus on contemporary dance, for the movement and the art of it. After doing the summer intensive, I knew it was the right place for me.”  Having only danced after school in her home town, at the end of her first year, Noelle loves dancing all day.   She says, “The student-teacher relationship is very positive; they truly only have your best interests in mind.  The atmosphere feels professional; I feel we’re being trained to be professionals.”   She’s also very enthusiastic about the performance series, and is inspired by a wonderful variety of dance artists like Peggy Baker and Margie Gillis.

Noelle says, “It’s good to work with a group that you can get to know intimately over the years. I feel that my classmates and I all push and encourage each other artistically and technically as individuals, because we all have the same goals in mind, and that atmosphere of encouragement is very helpful. It’s a great learning experience to dance in the student-run Coffee House productions, and I really like how the students get to run a production – something I never thought I’d do.”

Speaking of the faculty and the choreographers she’s worked with in her first year, Noelle says, “I love working with the different repertory and technique teachers. We get a lot of helpful notes. It’s wonderful to work with choreographers who are well known, and with faculty who have a lot of experience working as professional dancers.”

At the closing night party following the final performance of Momentum 2014, Noelle was announced the winner of this year’s Attendance Award for her first year – she had the best attendance record of her class for the 2013-14 year.

We congratulate Noelle, and look forward to her enthusiastic participation in her second year of the Professional Training Program, starting in September!

photo credit: Michelle Zimmerman