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The NL Dance Project

Neighbourhood Dance Works proudly announced the launch of The Newfoundland and Labrador Dance Project in August, 2017. This unprecedented three-year project unites several generations of artists born and raised in Newfoundland and Labrador together in St. John’s to work with nationally-celebrated choreographers Anne Troake and Christopher House.

While many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians choose to study and pursue careers in the performing arts, this province’s tumultuous economic history, small population, and remote geography has forced many artists leave the province to sustain their careers. Others have remained in Newfoundland and Labrador but continually face challenges of working in isolation. The NL Dance Project unites artists who left the province with ones who stayed.

A team of 21 dynamic dance, theatre and visual artists, each born and raised in NL, unite under the creative guidance of a core team of dance professionals who have their own deep roots in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Phase One of this project saw performing arts professionals descend on St. John’s in August 2017 collectively reflecting on the themes of heritage and belonging and the way these ideas stretch across time and geography.

In July and August of 2018, the artists incorporated additional creative elements - compositional scores, costume, props, thereby expanding the choreographic frameworks and pushing participants to expand collaborative structures.

In Fall 2019 we will see the results of these two distinct processes with community showings and discussions in both St John's and Toronto.

This project is made possible by a Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter grant. New Chapter is a special, one-time program created on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Confederation. With more than 2,000 applications submitted, Neighbourhood Dance Works was one of four Newfoundland and Labrador organizations to be awarded a grant that will showcase the diversity of artistic expression across Canada and create a legacy for all Canadians.

There was a homecoming of sorts in St. John’s this summer with dancers at work on phase two of the NLDance Project. Two casts of Newfoundland-born artists worked with either Anne Troake or Christopher House, building on the movement research from last summer’s gathering, to create two newchoreographic works that will premiere at the 2019 Festival of New Dance. Their postmodern explorations challenged the dancers both physically and intellectually in a rich process that couldn’t help but be informed by the shared heritage of this group. Originally from parts around the Avalon Peninsula to Corner Brook to Cow Head, roughly half of these artists live on the mainland now, but were thrilled to have artistic work bring them to St. John’s for a beautiful summer of dancing.
— Amy Bowring, on Phase Two of the NL Dance Project

banner photo credit: Jill Willcott, NL Dance Project 2018