Dancing on the Edge

Festival of Contemporary Dance

Dancing on the Edge


Olivia C. Davies | 28th Festival


Dancing on the Edge presented my work, “Open Fire” in the Firehall Arts Centre as part of the 28th edition of the festival. This contemporary dance work based on the short story by Carmen Aguirre is accompanied by live reading of the story by the author, original score by Canadian composer Sky Shaver, and cast that includes myself along with Bolivian dancer, Alejandra Miranda, and Columbian actor, Sindy Angel. The short work was created through a co-production commissioned by the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts and the Dance Centre in the interdisciplinary program, “Beyond Words” and premiered in May 2016. I remember the electricity in the air as Carmen’s words were amplified through the sound system and the chills I felt as each scene fell away and the invocation of the main character’s spirit began to fill the theatre. Strong emotions are elicited through the re-telling of the hard truths woven throughout the story. Both myself and Sindy recall feeling the presence of the main character as we waited back stage for our entrances. I am grateful for providing space for this story to be told in the context of the dance festival.

Photo  by Yvonne Chew


Press for Open Fire – DOTE 2016
Review by Elliot Cheung for Ubyssey Online
In “Open Fire,” biography, poetry, dance and other multimedia were interwoven in a unique expression of a dark period in Argentinian history. Local playwright Carmen Aguirre’s narration of the story — in which a woman returns to the place of her mother’s murder forty years — received a physical treatment from the dancers, including choreographer Olivia C. Davies. While watching, one was given room to judge for themselves whether the dancers were following the dictation of the words, or if their physical theatre had become the instigator of the story.
The movement was deep and impressionistic, working with stagecraft to create memorable tableaux, involving both the visual and the aural. Such moments will allow the audience to re-live the emotive gravity brought on by both the subject and the performers’ deeply-felt interpretations.

Vanessa Goodman | Dancing on the Edge 2014

Vanessa made the cover of the Georgia Straight July 3-10 2014 and embarked on a new journey that year…

“Rising Vancouver choreographer Vanessa Goodman has created a piece where, as she puts it, “the space dances as much as the performers.”

The young dance artist, who won the local Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award in 2013, putting her $5,000 winnings toward this project, has watched the piece similarly evolve and shift over three years of development.

From Vanessa“Dancing on the Edge Festival allowed me to really grow as an artist performing in others works but also as a choreographer making my own works. For me it is where my professional career as an artist in the Vancouver community began to take shape.”


The priority of the company is to foster work that reflects the human condition, using dance to decode contemporary experience. It is the company’s goal to create immersive environments, working towards facilitating an engrossing experience for those who witness the work. Goodman was the recipient of the 2013 Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award and the 2017 Yulanda M. Faris Program. She has been commissioned to create works for the Dancing on the Edge Festival, The Gwaii Trust, Vancouver Biennale and Simon Fraser University. Most recently her work has toured nationally and internationally and been presented by DanceHouse, SFUW, The Canada Dance Festival, The Dance Made in/ Fait au Canada Festival, The Bienal Internacional de Dança Do Ceará, On the Boards, The Risk/Reward Festival, The Dance Centre, The Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, Small Stage, Push Off, Music on Main and The Chutzpah! Festival.


Alvin Erasga Tolentino 2013 Memory – Site Specific Duet


In 2013- 25 minutes to mark 25 years. In celebration of Dancing on the Edge Festival’s 25th anniversary, Co.ERASGA’s Alvin Erasga Tolentino tackles a site-specific duet with critically acclaimed dancer Alison Denham. Composed of 25 gestures, Vancouver’s historic steam clock in Gastown comes alive with dance. Every noon for 12 consecutive days the two dancers created a ritual dance comprised of distinct dance gestures and moving in accordance with the clock’s signal. Alvin and Alison endured every audiences that came from all walks of life pushing the spirit of dancing on the edge an homage to it’s 25 years legacy to Vancouver dance.


Happy International Dance Day! April 29, 2018

We are dedicated to developing contemporary dance artists and endeavour to continue our 30 years of engaging audiences and artists.

The Dancing on the Edge Festival Society strives to stimulate the development of high quality contemporary Canadian dance artists and choreography through the presentation of work from emerging and established local, regional, national and international dance artists and companies. Each year the Festival provides a catalyst for discussion about dance, either through forums, roundtable discussions, or talkbacks. The Festival also acts as a facilitator for new dance creations, through commissions, residencies, and co-productions.


International Dance Day 2018
Canadian Dance Assembly



Since 2005, the Canadian Dance Assembly (CDA) has issued a message on behalf of the dance community in Canada as part of International Dance Day, which takes place annually on April 29th. This year, CDA invited Vivine Scarlett of dance Immersion to share her inspirational message to all Canadians. [Dancing on the Edge Festival](http://www.dancingontheedge.org) appreciates the work of CDA and would like to share their message to our community.

“The universal movement of dance releases the very essence of what is all around us. It connects and weaves so deep that one can feel the wisdom, patience and graciousness of its flow. With each move made there is a giving and receiving communication in that universal experience. Dance is a vehicle that lends itself to learning about oneself. It helps us move through life’s experiences by expressing our stories and our history, by commenting on our present and nurturing our future.

Dance for you.
Dance for us.
Just dance and let the rhythm of our spirits soar in the movement of DANCE.”

Vivine Scarlett

Gearshifting Artistic Director Jolene Bailie discusses her experience with the Festival

Jolene Bailie shares memories of 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2013.

“I participated in DOTE in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2013. As a prairie artist from Winnipeg, and being isolated from all the major centres for dance, in a city with no dance presenter (and therefore very few touring shows ever come to Winnipeg), participating in the national dance community is critical.

Donna Spencer was wonderful to me each time I participated in the festival. She really made me feel like my work mattered, she provided an opportunity for my work to be seen, and she helped bring me and my work to Vancouver.

Each time I presented at the festival I not only had the wonderful chance to perform, I also was able to see other work, meet other artists, and some years participate in classes and workshops. My work was reviewed in newspapers and magazines and I had a chance to share programs with artists who I may never have had the opportunity to meet without the festival – including with Noam Gagnon, Andrea Nann and Alvin Tolentino. Touring my work also gave me the chance to further research and develop my work as I prepared for the festival. Each experience was meaningful, positive, and had facilitated my development as an artist.

My experience with DOTE included: bringing my own choreography, “Hybrid Human”, featuring five Winnipeg dancers in 2013, as well as performing solo work in 2002, 2004 and 2005, including the suite of five solos by Jose Limon, “Dances for Isadora”, “To Somewhere Else”, by Marc Boivin, “Etude” by Stephanie Ballard, and “After Words” by Gaile Petursson-Hiley.

Congratulations to DOTE on your 30th anniversary festival! Best wishes for 30 more! Huge appreciation to Donna Spencer, James Proudfoot and Chris Randle who were fully present and encouraging to me each time I participated in the festival.”

Jolene Bailie
Artistic Director,
Gearshifting Performance Works

Noam Gagnon tells us about his 30 years with the Festival



Noam Gagnon | memories from 1988

“My relationship with Dancing on the Edge dates back thirty years to 1988. I have so many amazing memories where magic truly happened between those walls, the audience and myself. If those walls could only speak! I remain extremely grateful for the many opportunities throughout the years that DOTE supported my works, giving me the chance to keep growing as an artist and giving those works a platform.

I remember early on, at the end of each festival, the technical crew would perform parodies of some of the works and then go on to give small awards. After watching an hilarious parody of the various works, The Holy Body Tattoo (including myself and Dana Gingras) was given an award for “White Riot” a piece for seven dancers. Years later “White Riot” would evolve into “monumental” a work that is still currently touring internationally in monumental theatres around the world.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you Dancing on the Edge for your unconditional support and for believing in me.”

Noam Gagnon
Artistic Director,
Vision Impure

Kaija Pepper, Editor of Dance International Magazine, Shares Memories of 1991 Festival

“It was close to 11pm when David Earle walked onto the Firehall stage. He was middle-aged, a little heavy, wearing a rumpled T-shirt and jeans. To a Ray Charles recording of the Beatles’ Yesterday, he danceda section from a larger work made in 1973, a solo filled withwhat I remember as loneliness and regret. I had never seen Earle, then artistic director of Toronto Dance Theatre, perform before. In fact, almost everyone was new to me because I had just returned to Vancouver from a decade living in England.

Out of the jumble of almost 100 works I watched that year – 1991, my first Edge – his solo remains with me. I was used to seeing fresh-faced youth bursting with energy on the dance stage, and it was a revelation to see this low-key, mature man – he would turn 53 the following week – illuminate something subtle about the human condition.”

– Kaija Pepper | Editor | Dance International Magazine

Company 605 Share Memories of 2009 Festival

“We’ll never forget Dancing on the Edge 2009, when the festival was willing to take a chance and invite The 605 Collective to present it’s first full-length work, AUDIBLE.

Lisa Gelley, Sasha Kozak, Shay Kuebler, Josh Martin and Maiko Miyauchi gave it all and left the floor covered in sweat.

We could have never imagined the piece then going on to be presented over 50 times across North and Central America over the following 6 years.

Thank you to DOTE for giving 605 our first opportunities.”

Serge Bennathan shares his memory of the 1988 Dancing on the Edge Festival

Serge Bennathan | 1988


1988 is one of my life’s magical years. I had recently immigrated to Canada, and after a stay in Ottawa, I decided to move to Vancouver. My English was like now, strong accent with people responding by an interrogative ’Whaaaat?’ to anything I said. I arrived financially precarious, with no access to public funding (that went naturally with the immigrant part), I knew in total one person, and yet, in this fragile and curiously powerful state, it was here, unbelievably, in this far away land, that I found my roots.

Right from my arrival, events unfold quite rapidly, there was a form of evidence, easiness, almost destiny to it. I started to meet other artists, and day after day the puzzle of my life fell into place. I met a community that has been the most generous, creatively and spiritually, that I have ever encountered: Grant Strate, Cornelius Fisher Credo, Peter Bingham, Dianne Miller, Chantal Deeble, Judith Marcuse, Jay Gower Taylor, Nancy Bryant, Louise Bentall, Lola MacLaughlin, Reid Anderson, Patti Hines, Rita Bozi, Olivia Thorvaldson, Jackie Nell and so many more…

Serge Bennathan photobyMichaelSlobodian

Choreography: Serge Bennathan | Photo: Michael Slobodian

The crystallizing moment of that year was the first edition of the Dancing on the Edge Festival, in which I presented a duet. It astonished me that you could be so new to a city and still be so accepted, that you could participate, you the foreigner, in a Festival that was profoundly rooted within the community.

This is something that I would never forget and I still say thank you to Donna Spencer for it, for her tenacity and her embrace. After that experience, my work as a choreographer started to feel unleashed, my true voice heard, as if all that I had done before, in France or in Ottawa, was the preparation to be ready for that specific moment. A lot of people that I met during the Festival that year became collaborators for the following decades.

It is difficult to encapsulate such a mystical moment of my life, but all that I have done, created, achieved from that moment until now, started right there on the stage of the Firehall Theatre, at the Dancing on the Edge Festival, with this incredible community of artists that I magically encountered.

Serge Bennathan

Sponsorship Opportunity

As a longstanding platform for performance we are dedicated to Vancouver’s arts + culture.

Created in direct response to the local community’s need for a support place to perform their work,the festival has evolved into an annual event which presents on average thirty performance companies and choreographers from Vancouver and across Canada.

As we embarking on our 30th anniversary July 5-14 2018 and are looking for support from our local community.

To celebrate we are offering an opportunity to collaborate with us, including 5 levels of sponsorship.

Contact General Manager, Nina Patel – info@dancingontheedge.org


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