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Karen Jamieson Dance Company

1983 to 2013

Reveal the power of dance to transform, to engage, to captivate and to heal

Encourage the practice of dance to access insight, understanding and knowledge available only through the dancing body


The dance practice of KJD includes staged choreography, community engaged dance, site-specific dance and cultural dialogue through dance with First Nations artists and thinkers. Work of the company reaches both forward, to new work emerging and backward to signature works from the past, while simultaneously connecting the different arenas of the company's creative practice.

Beginning – Karen Jamieson Dance was founded in 1983 to support the practice, research, creation and production of dance under the artistic direction of Karen Jamieson.

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 in Ottawa, Harbourfront Premiere Dance Theatre in Toronto, Vancouver Playhouse, Festivals such as the Holland Festival, the Canada Dance Festival, Winnipeg Contemporary Dance Festival, Festival International de nouvelle danse in Montreal, the Baltimore Theatre Festival. A commission from National Gallery of Canada to create a site-specific work led to the creation of Passage, concerned with the spirit of place. These were years with critical and audience acclaim, that earned the company respected place within the dance community.

The Crash – A difficult time followed of approximately 10 years (1995 to 2005). I experienced a level of personal trauma that had a profound impact on my work and the company. Though shattering personally, paradoxically this time was also the crucible that produced a radically new vision of dance, of what dance could be and my role within the art form. I 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. Though excited by the emerging work it was initially difficult to find support and a place within the dance community for this new vision and I struggled to reconcile the direction of my stage based work and this compelling but uncharted new direction.

Rebuilding – In 2005 the Artistic Director and board of KJD 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 and also capable of housing and 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, to be a partner in the rebuilding project. KJD then successfully spent 3 years in in-depth company positioning and implementing strategies to support this new phase and direction.

New work created and classic work recreated from 2005 to present day includes; a 3 year cross cultural collaboration with the Haida village of Skidegate BC with performance in Skidegate and the Museum of Anthropology, 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 that 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 & Act ll) was innovative work with Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside residents that led to Techno Carnegie (Techno Carnegie, Procession of Performing Circles & Listen), and The Extensions (CONNECT).

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 Squamish First Nations contributions (2011 Dancing on the Edge festival)

Today – The research & creation of a new solo work, the community engaged work, new mentoring work and developing community.

solo|soul, a solo work created by and for Karen Jamieson (score by John Korsrud), is focused on dancing from the inner “energy body”, and is developing out of an in-depth three year research and creation process of danced conversations with Jennifer Mascall, Lee Su-Feh, Serge Bennathan, Peter Bingham, Josh Martin, Margaret Grenier, Meredith Kalaman and Darcy McMurray. The processes are supported by Dramaturg DD Kugler and documented by Chris Randle and Josh Hite.

CONNECT, a work-in-progress performed October 28, 2012, is a first draft of a dance work to be completed and performed with the Carnegie Dance Troupe as part of the Heart of the City festival November 3, 2013. This performance is part of an on-going series of creative dance workshops for residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside offered by Karen Jamieson Dance in partnership with Carnegie Community Centre and Simon Fraser University’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement.

Karen Jamieson Dance is developing a Mentorship Program for emerging dance artists interested in the Community Engaged Dance Practice and the company’s work in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Current mentees are Julie Lebel, Lindsay Ridgeway, Mirae Rosner and Hailey McCloskey. The goal is to pass on this work to a younger generation through mentorship and through our series of Community Engaged Dance Practice Forums.