This week in the Future of Ottawa series, we’re taking a deep dive into Ottawa’s dance scene—what it’s like now and where it’s headed. Read on for a guest post from Cathy Levy on dance creators at the National Arts Centre, or read posts from Alea de Castro and Arnaldo Betancourt Silva on street dance in Ottawa, or Yvonne Coutts on professional contemporary dance.
Cathy has led the National Arts Centre’s Dance Department for two decades and has earned an enviable reputation throughout the Canadian and international dance communities. She presents a full season of national and international dance companies and artists and has co-produced over 100 new works. She has also developed an array of outreach and enhancement activities to support artists, students and audiences, such as the NAC-CGI Youth Commission for Dance (2003-2007), the Associate Dance Artists Program launched in 2007, and the Visiting Dance Artist Program launched in 2018, projects supported through partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts. Cathy serves on several committees, boards and panels and in 2019 received the Order of Canada in recognition of her dedication to the field.
What is the current landscape of dance/dance institutions in Ottawa?
Ottawa has an active and important dance community and while there are few companies compared to other cities, the dance milieu continues to grow and diversify.
If you care to make a predictions… where is 2021 going for dance creators?
Everyone is anxious to get back to creating and presenting. As long as we can proceed with safety, dance artists will be as eager as everyone to get back in the studios and theatres and do what they do best: create and deliver their dance pieces. Dance will also go outside somewhat this summer—we’re planning some activities now that we’ll reveal soon—in order to continue connecting with the public. We want to keep dance creators in the forefront, locally and nationally, and are developing projects that contribute to the sector moving forward. While we will always keep safety measures in mind, we hope to bring Canadian dance companies back to the NAC as early as this fall.
Where in your wildest dreams could NAC Dance go in your lifetime?
NAC Dance is dedicated to supporting the creation and dissemination of dance throughout the country. There are so many talented choreographers in our midst and we’d love to keep expanding our offerings to the Ottawa audience, as well as finding new ways to support artists and programs nationally.
What is the best innovation to take place in professional dance and its venues since the pandemic started affecting Ottawa?
There are many great projects that have taken place! We are proud of DanceForth which is a national livestream series that has presented artists across the country, as well as in partnership with Ottawa Dance Directive.
*Who* is the future of dance in Ottawa?
The community is growing, and we’re excited to learn about all the new voices.
Tell us something you wish somebody told you when you started your career in dance.
Dance is so many things, and it is everywhere. If we keep our hearts and minds and eyes open, this most beautiful art form will continue to engage and entertain us.
Back in 2015, Apartment613 took a look at the future of Ottawa across several different sectors. In 2021, we’re bringing the series back, asking experts, artists, and community leaders to shed some light on their local field or industry, as it stands now and where they think—or dream—it will go over the next few years. Every week we’ll profile a different cultural sector in Ottawa, leaving no niche unexplored—from social justice to theatre, bars to sports, to the future of the municipality and its natural environs. Keep an eye out for a new batch of posts every Tuesday on Apt613.ca.