Bringing Artists Together by Linda Arkelian

Bringing Artists Together

I live for the Arts. My creativity unfolds through the performing arts, the  visual arts  and teaching. Of increasing importance are my  creative collaborations with an eclectic group  of dancers,all of whom share “an artistic soul” and train in my dance classes.

The structure of my ballet classes has evolved beyond a syllabus. Many genres, including experimental theatre, performance art, visual art, yoga and the healing arts, have merged into my ballet classes.  For example,  I concentrate on the use of breath to bring life to movement . My dancers internalize in order to endow all movement with  intention and meaning.

I have connected artists from diverse disciplines through my”Bringing Artists Together” project, which began when I inviteda guest photographer to my ballet class three years ago. Since then” Bringing Artists Together” has expanded to include a wide range of artistic media and genres. Classical musicians andAfrican percussionists have graced the studio. The dancers haveinspired visual artists’ abstract expressions or realistic ventures. Photographers and videographers have documented  eventsoffering their unique perspective of our shared explorations.

Both emerging and established artists have found new impetus for their artistic directions. Guests have shown  tremendousdevotion to attend my events.  On one of Vancouver’s most blustery days guest artist, Yared Nigussu, travelled on the bus with a 6′ canvas tucked under his arm. Stepping off the bus he literally blew in on a gust of wind to paint my dancers.

A ” Bringing Artists Together”  event – with David Cooper in attendance- led to our collaboration on the   short film “Hands”. The success of this film and the 15,000 views on Vimeomotivated the planning of our next film.

On another serendipitous occasion my guest percussionist Russell Shumsky went to grab a coffee before our event. At the cafe he ran into Ugandan musician, Kinobe, who was inVancouver on tour for one day only. Seeing Kinobe’s handmade gourd instrument, Russell invited him to jam with us during our event. Upon returning home to Africa to complete his CD,Nomad Soul, Kinobe  messaged me to say that in all his travels across the world nothing had matched his experience that day.As Kinobe wrote: “My new CD will be out in 2 weeks and you really inspired my recording process and the title track, Nomad Soul…there is something I always believe, the most important things in life are those things that we cannot touch, not property, not money, but love, humanity, and if you share and give that to people, that will always stay with them and it is something no one can or will ever take away, that is how powerful it is. Thereis no price for the love you bring to people…”. The impact of  Bringing Artists Together”  continues to reverberate.

My vision for the future is to expand the collaborative process,ever widening the circle of artists.

Dance Classes with Linda Arkelian

Scotiabank Dance Centre Website

Bringing Artists Together film by

David Cooper

Hands film by David Cooper & Linda Arkelian

The back bone of humanity by Angel Jutzi

the backbone of humanityImage

Angel Jutzi

Founding Artistic Director, Zebra Eyes Contemporary Dance

Twitter @AngelJutzi


Balance.  As dancers we associate this word with the accuracy of our positions that allows us to achieve utter perfection in our craft.  As acutely as we have defined that word in our art it can be difficult to apply the same terminology to our everyday lives.  We are at an advantage in understanding how true balance can be achieved in our lives because we spend the majority of our time internalizing it in order to identify what balance actually means for us.


Individually, balance means something different for each of us.  In dance, body type and alignment have a great deal of bearing on how we execute different positions.  In life, a variety of factors contribute to how we perceive our needs; we uniquely form our own views of what balance means and what works for us. It can be easy to misconstrue the physicality and emotionality of how we determine balance in dance, and also in life, when the two are parallel in many ways.


As dancers, we always consider ourselves lucky to have the ability to do what we are passionate about for a living.  We have honed this passion over years of hard work, dedication and expression, thus we are quite personally attached to the emotions that we have developed. As erratic and irrational as our emotions may seem from time to time, we stand strong and confident that we are in tune to our passions and our ability to begrounded in the world around us through movement.  Because of our emotional involvement with our art we sometimes lose sight of how to bring stability into our lives.  But, is that notexactly what we are doing?


Stability and balance are two words that go hand in hand while we strive to execute the myriad of challenges, both technically and artistically, that are thrown at us.  In the studio and on stage we tackle it with a strength and confidence that can only come from years of practice, self-reflection, and self-realization.  Why is it then, that outside of a studio we struggle to utilize the skills that we have worked so hard to call our own?


Because we are involved in our art in such an up close and personal way it can be difficult to see the big picture.  And, the big picture is this.   We are unique creatures who have the ability to identify with our needs on a deep emotional level.  This is our passion.  We spend hours upon hours building technical skills in order to help us portray these emotions to the best of our abilityto the world around us creating a richer cultural understandingof who we are.  We are the backbone of humanity.


I understand the weight of this statement may seem heavy and, albeit, a bit dramatic.  The term “dancer” is a simple definition of who we are and what we do.  We are so much more than a simple term.  In order to become a true dancer, an artist, the universe requires us to delve into every inch of who we are.  Every moment of our lives is spent trying to be better, achieve more, and mean something.  This is inspiration.  And, inspiration is what this world needs.

 Blog made possible by Impact Dance Productions and

Dating Dance by Sarah Dolan

With Valentines Day around the corner Impact Dance Productions and would like to share this great blog post with you written by Sarah Dolan.

Dating Dance by Sarah Dolan

Twenty two years into my committed relationship with Dance, I have realized, like many dancers do, that Dance and I have endured some interesting experiences, met some incredible individuals and continued to evolve. There have been moments when I have wanted to yell at it, tell it off, felt abandoned by it, giggled at the thought of it, been overwhelmed with it, and more recently, to reach out, embrace it and never let it go.

When we first started going steady, Dance was a pleasant physical and social activity for me, as it was for my older siblings. From learning my first plies and shuffles to my first memories onstage, the early years of the relationship flew by. Being so long ago, I am not exactly sure of the exact moment when my universe shifted to revolve around Dance, but when faced with injuries, my devotion for it grew.

I was told by the professionals (therapists, doctors, surgeons) that I needed a break, and in some cases, my career was over. Like most adolescents, I decided to rebel against their advice and predictions. Eventually, I was forced to take a break from Dance, which made me that much more sure of us and my need for its presence in my life. I craved a return into and onto every dancers’ most sacred places-the studio and stage.

I wanted  my body, my instrument, to connect and explore physically and emotionally with the music and characters again. Instead, I was trapped in a broken body and soul that I could not recognize in the mirror. Where was Dance? Was this the end of our love story?

My outside life (which I like to refer to as my “human life”) had continued to age and life’s milestone of high school graduation had come and gone. I took some space from what had been my best friend and love. I felt lost and an emptiness I had never known before, struggling to recreate myself as anything but a dancer.

When dance and I rekindled our relationship it took on a new form, beginning a new chapter of us, teaching and choreographing. Although my self practice was not our relationship’s main focus any longer, I found tremendous fulfillment sharing my love of dance with others and the knowledge my generous teachers had bestowed upon me. Our relationship has continued to evolve as I have found my true self  within it.

Although there are moments when you need to take some space from it, Dance always finds a place in your life. Even if you decide to part from it for the long term, you will find it again for a moment busting a move on the dance floor at a wedding or in the little groove you attempt to contain strolling down the side walk with your tunes blasting in your ear. No one will ever be able to take away the memories and self realizations you have shared with Dance. If Dance is the feature presentation of your life it will be a great love story.  There will be moments in which it will sweep you off your feet and moments that it will break you down. Cherish the past, present and the moments that are to come with Dance. Be honest and true to both yourself and Dance. Be thankful for its presence in your life because even though Dance may not always say it, it is grateful for your contribution and devotion to it. Thank you Dance, my Soul Mate!

By Sarah Dolan- Artistic Director of O2 The Dance Company

Sarah Dolan- Artistic Director at O2 The Dance Company

Sarah Dolan- Artistic Director at O2 The Dance Company

David Cooper-Photographer

In 1978, with an interest in photographing dance, I was fortunate to receive a Canada Council grant to travel to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. I spent two weeks in their studios photographing the morning class and rehearsals. At night I set up a small darkroom in a friends bathroom and made contact sheets from the days work. I would post them on the board and get the dancers feedback. I learned the language of ballet there. Jeté, arabesque, plie, demi, turnout, were all terms new to me. Even though I have never taken a dance class, I can now give notes to a ballet dancer when I see something that is wrong during a studio shoot. You will hear me say “let me see that back arm”, “flatten the line to make the legs longer”,  “drop your shoulders”, “can you match that arm to your leg.” It’s a constant barrage of notes to get the lines perfect. A lot of dance does not translate well when frozen in a still. What is needed for the still camera is much more specific than what is presented on stage during a live performance.


EVELYN HART (1980) Photo credit: David Cooper

There is a beauty and striving for perfection in ballet that I found in Evelyn Hart who was a soloist with the company in 1978. It was only two years later that she won the gold metal at International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria.

Performance here:

I was invited back to the RWB in 1980 to shoot their promo photos and souvenir book. This began a 30 year relationship with the company.


Evelyn was the only dancer who would discuss lighting before a shoot. She would suggest silhouette or back light and have a clear idea of what she wanted in her photographs.


She brought tremendous energy and a sense of humor to the photo sessions that demystified how big a star she was. Here she is during a photocall for Giselle goofing around with a big nose and glasses.




In July of 1985 my daughter Emily was born. A month later I had my annual trip to the RWB to set up a studio and shoot the company. I brought the family with me and Evelyn presented us with the smallest pair of ballet slippers for our 5 week old daughter. She held Emily over her head on pointe and my daughter was introduced to the world of ballet being partnered by one of the greatest ballerinas of our time.



 Evelyn was a very passionate dancer, like a great actress. She was very sensitive to music too. I remember she was once reviewing a contact sheet from Giselle. There were these blurred images during the mad scene where the light was too low to get a high enough shutter to freeze the motion. I thought I had messed up technically but she got really excited when she saw those frames and said the blurs felt exactly like she feels in that moment. The motion and blurs were perfect according to her. The camera was in sync with her emotions. She felt things in a very deep way through dance and I was responding to them with my camera.

There is a permanence to a still photo that lives on forever so ballet dancers are by far the most critical of themselves in pictures and by nature very hard to please.  But I love the challenge. To this day, I love shooting during the morning class and hanging out in the wings during a performance. 

David Cooper



Blog made possible by Impact Dance Productions, Founder&CEO Danielle Gardner, and David Cooper