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Redefining the Contemporary Symposium - Artist Bios

Scheherazaad Cooper - Moderator
Scheherazaad Cooper is an accomplished Canadian performer and choreographer, drawing from nearly thirty years as an Odissi classical Indian dancer, as well as a background in theatre, in her contemporary work. Her international performance career includes a range of interdisciplinary collaborations and solo productions, as well as devising, dance dramaturgy, and teaching in higher education. Cooper is committed to community engagement and regularly serves as expert consultant, community programmer, and policy advisor for local arts organizations. She received her PhD in Sociology and Performance from Goldsmiths University of London.

Rosario Ancer - panelist - unfortunately Rosaraio is unable to join the panel in Dec2020. Watch for a future panel on flamenco!
After a successful career in Spain, Rosario Ancer and her Vancouverite husband, guitarist Victor Kolstee, moved to Vancouver in 1989 where they cofounded their school Centro Flamenco, the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival, The Flamenco Rosario Arts Society (Flamenco Rosario) and its Professional Training Program. As an interpreter of flamenco, Rosario is more interested in the continuing growth of the art form than in simply reiterating its past. Her open-ended collaborations and experimentation crossing non-traditional choreographic work with visual arts, computer programming, music composition, lighting and stage design, are clear proof of Rosario's risk taking artistic spirit and dedication to flamenco dance innovation outside flamenco's traditional scenography, opening up an entirely new dimension of flamenco storytelling that demonstrates the tremendous multidisciplinary potential of contemporary flamenco dance in contrast to stereotypical perceptions. Called "The Mother of Flamenco in Vancouver," by the press, Rosario received the 2009 Isadora Award for Excellence in Choreography for the creation of Mis Hermanas and for her contributions in bringing excellence in dance to British Columbia. She was also honoured with the 2012 Mayor's Arts Award in Dance, the 2016 Lola Award from The Dance Centre, a 2019 Red Global MX Best Artist Award, and she is a 2020 Inductee to the Dance Collection Danse Hall of Fame. Through her work, she has created a platform where Flamenco and a new generation of flamenco artists flourish in Vancouver and have created an east-bound bridge that connects the wide national flamenco community. flamencorosario.org

Margaret Grenier - panelist
Margaret Grenier is of Gitxsan and Cree ancestry. She is the Executive and Artistic Director for the Dancers of Damelahamid Society, which is dedicated to reviving Gitxsan dance traditions and presenting Indigenous dance. She choreographed and produced the full-length works Setting the Path in 2004 and Sharing the Spirit in 2007, which toured internationally to New Zealand, the Cook Islands 2008 and the Canada Day Celebration at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai China. She also choreographed and produced Visitors Who Never Left in 2010 and as a site-specific work at the UBC Museum of Anthropology in 2009. She produced and is director of the Coastal First Nations Dance Festival, since 2008, which has showcased Indigenous dance groups from the coast of BC, Alaska, Washington State, the Yukon as well as guest national and international artists. Her current works bridge traditional and contemporary dance expressions. Margaret choreographed and produced Spirit Transforming, a full-length, multimedia dance production in 2012, Flicker in 2016 and Minowin in 2019. Photo: Chris Randle. damelahamid.ca

Colleen Lanki Fujima Sayū - panelist
Colleen is a theatre performer, director, choreographer, educator, and lover of total theatre. Colleen was based in Tokyo for many years where she trained in nihon buyoh (Japanese classical dance) under Fujima Yūko, being granted the professional name Fujima Sayū in 2001.She also worked as a performer with various contemporary theatre groups, and founded a Kee Company, a group that created collaborative, bilingual performances. She is the Artistic Director of TomoeArts, a company that specializes in promoting Japanese performing arts and the creation of new dance-theatre works. She works across boundaries and disciplines to understand individual differences and to ultimately celebrate what brings humans together. She is currently working on her PhD at the University of British Columbia researching avant-garde playwright and theatre creator Kishida Rio. Recent projects: performing in Kishida's Four Letters in Tokyo with Kishida's company of actors; directing Kayoi Komachi, a new chamber opera combining noh and classical music; and creating/performing the interdisciplinary performance piece Weaver Woman. Photo: Alfonso Arnold. colleenlanki.com

Lesley Telford - panelist
Lesley Telford is a Vancouver-based choreographer and teacher who has returned to her hometown after a career in Europe spanning 20 years. She is the artistic director of Inverso Productions and on faculty at at Arts Umbrella's Professional Dance Program, leading the Performance Research Program (PReP). She has a long standing commitment to emerging dancers in our community and is dedicated to create platforms for research and development and performance opportunities that allow these dancers to grow as artists. Lesley finished her studies in Montreal at L'Ecole Superieure de Danse du Quebec before joining the company Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. She went on to dance with Nacho Duato's Compania Nacional de Danza in Madrid, Spain. Most recently she danced with Netherlands Dans Theater 1 where she performed in major theatres worldwide. She has a Master of Arts in Cultural Production at the joint program of the University of Salzburg and the Mozarteum. She was also a fellow in a joint research project with the Zurich University of the Arts in 2013. She was selected by Crystal Pite for the Vancouver Mayor's Arts Award 2015 as emerging artist in dance. As a choreographer, she has created for Ballet BC, Netherlands Dans Theater 1, Hubbard Street Dance Company 2, Compania Nacional de Danza 2, Ballet Vorpommern, International Project for Dance in Rome- DAF, Butler Ballet, University of Utah and Arts Umbrella Dance Company. She is presently working on a new commission for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. She is the founder of Inverso Productions, a platform for interdisciplinary performance. Through Korzo Productions and Inverso Productions, she produced and choreographed Brittle Failure, which was a part of tours and festivals in Spain, the Netherlands and Canada. Inverso is presently continuing to perform the full-length work Spooky Action, which recently premiered at the Firehall Arts Centre to enthusiastic reviews. Spooky Action comes to the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts April 22-25, 2020. Photo: David Cooper. lesleytelford.com.

Sujit Vaidya - panelist
Sujit Vaidya is an independent bharatanatyam artist based in Vancouver and has performed extensively in Canada, US, Europe and India. Solo work is his forte, although he has been part of duet and group productions with companies such as Shakti Dance and Co Erasga in Vancouver, inDANCE in Toronto, NAVA dance in San Francisco and Spilling Ink in Washington, DC, to name a few. While continuing to pursue training in the traditional form of bharatanatyam with his Guru A. Lakshman in Chennai, India, he creates work that speaks from a deeply personal space. He uses bharatanatyam as a language to reimagine the content of traditional texts and responsibly contextualizes it in ways that are relevant to him as a gay man living in today's times. He finds it important and urgent to question the narrative and relevance of non-inclusive traditional texts. His urban sensibilities juxtaposed seamlessly in an art form rooted in tradition informs his work and makes it unique and interesting. He was the first South Asian artist to receive the Vancouver City Mayor's award as best emerging dance artist in 2010. He is currently developing a work called Siva Kissed Visnu in collaboration with Hari Krishnan, artistic director of inDANCE, Toronto which explores his sexual identity as a gay man. His recent work OFF CENTRE, which was created for The Dance Centre's 12 MM program, explores the disconnect that he feels with traditional elements of bharatanatyam in stark contrast with the affinity that he feels for the art form. photo: Paul Elliot. Siva Kissed Visnu highlight video.