Karen Jamieson Dance Company

1983 to 2018

 Reveal power of dance as an art form with potential to transform, to engage, to captivate, to heal,
and to impart knowledge available only to the dancing body

To support the practice, research, creation and production of dance under the artistic direction of Karen Jamieson

The Beginning – Karen Jamieson Dance was founded in 1983. The initial mandate of the company was to discover the elemental structure of dances that speak a mythic, poetic language. Company works from this period (Solo From Chaos, Sisyphus, Roadshow, le Bateau, Rainforest, Drive, Man Within), were presented at venues such as the National Arts Centre, Harbourfront Premiere Dance Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse, Festivals such as the Holland Festival, the Canada Dance Festival, Winnipeg Contemporary Dance Festival, Festival International de nouvelle danse, Baltimore Festival. These were years with critical and audience acclaim, that earned the company a respected place within the dance community. 

The Crash – there was a black period that followed of approximately 10 years (1995 to 2005). Karen experienced a level of personal trauma that had a profound impact on her work and the company. Though shattering personally, paradoxically this time was also the crucible that produced a radically new vision of dance. She began to experience a greatly expanded vision of what dance could be and her role within the art form. Karen began to create works that moved beyond the borders of studio/stage dance - that sought to develop a post-colonial dance, dance as a force for social change, a vehicle to explore cultures and communities; a “physical poetry” that connects through the embodied spirit. This period continued to present difficulties. Though excited by the emerging work, KJD struggled to find support and a place within the dance community for this new vision and Karen struggled to reconcile the direction of her stage based work and this compelling but uncharted new direction.

Rebuilding – In 2005 Karen and the KJD Board began a period of rebuilding the company to create a structure capable of going both forward, to new work emerging and back to classic works from the past while also connecting the different arenas in which this company had been creating. The rebuilding project was driven by a central focus; to integrate the different practices of the company into a single identity emanating from a core vision. A major decision made at this time was to hire a full time manager; a partner in the rebuilding project. KJD spent 4 years re-positioning the company and its profile and implementing strategies to support this new phase and direction.

Work created and classic work recreated from 2005 to present day includes; a 3 year cross cultural collaboration with the Haida village of Skidegate, B.C. with performance in Skidegate and the Museum of Anthropology (Vancouver), Elmer & Coyote (2005 CanDance Aboriginal Tour across Canada). Man Within (2006 Canada Dance Festival). The Sisyphus Project partnered new creations with recreated classic KJD work (2007 Vancouver International Dance Festival) – the 2008 version toured BC included the new work Agon (2008). Agon: Collected Works included a recreated Solo From Chaos envisioned as a duet (2009 Dance In Vancouver).

Community Engaged projects 2005 to present (workshops & performance): Carnegie/Firehall Community Project (Stand Your Ground & Stand Your Ground Act ll) was innovative work with Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) residents that led to: Techno Carnegie, Procession of Performing Circles, Listen, CONNECT, Metamorphose, and establishment of The Carnegie Dance Troupe.

Collision (2008-2011) in partnership with the Dance Centre and Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre combined professional and community practices with professional and community dancers, multi-disciplined artists collaborations and First Nations contributions (2011 Dancing on the Edge Festival)

Today – The research & creation of solo|soul opened new investigative methods new creations: Trickster and light breaking broken, ongoing community engaged work in the DTES incorporates the new Mentorship Program, commissions with emerging choreographers, work with scholars - all infused with excitement, life and momentum.

Karen is the recipient of the 1980 Chalmers Award for Choreography, 2013 Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award, the 2016 Isadora Award for excellence in choreography amongst many others.

The time frame of the company interweaves projects ranging from 3 years to 1 year culminating at different points in time, interdependent and mutually supporting and within an overall rhythm of research, creation, production. The company has created over 93 original works.