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NAC Dance with Cathy Levy

From ballet to contemporary dance, these podcasts feature fascinating conversations between NAC Dance Producer Cathy Levy and some of the world's most exciting dance artists, all of whom will be appearing, or have appeared, at the National Arts Centre.

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Karen Kain, Artistic Director and Rex Harrington, Artist-in-Residence, The National Ballet of Canada

In this NAC 50th Anniversary podcast, Karen Kain, Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada, and Rex Harrington, Artist-in-Residence, both acclaimed former principal dancers with the company, share memories about performing at the National Arts Centre and during Karen’s farewell tour across Canada. Throughout her career, opportunities came to Karen through artists Rudolph Nureyev, Erik Bruhn, John Neumeier, Glen Tetley and Jiří Kylián and her exquisite performances were made all the more memorable by Rex’s innate gift for magical and magnetic partnering. Under her artistic directorship, The National Ballet of Canada has become one of the top international companies in the world. Both she and Rex explain how this was achieved. In closing, Rex speaks of the rewards of coaching and passing on knowledge while Karen shares her vision for the coming years.


4 Feb 2019

Rank #1

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Crystal Pite, Choreographer and Artistic Director, Kidd Pivot

Cathy converses with internationally acclaimed, award-winning Vancouver dance artist Crystal Pite following the NAC opening night performance of Revisor, her most recent choreographic work co-created with Canadian actor/writer Jonathon Young. They touch on Crystal’s childhood aspiration to be a complete dance artist, her early choreographic career, the founding of her company Kidd Pivot in 2002 that united the dancer and choreographer in herself, and life-work balance. Crystal has created over 50 works for her company and others such as Ballet British Columbia, Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater and The Royal Ballet. In great demand internationally, her immediate future includes a tour of Revisor and commissions by The Paris Opera Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada and Nederlands Dans Theater.


6 Mar 2019

Rank #2

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Aaron S. Watkin, Artistic Director, Semperoper Ballett Dresden

Cathy chats with Canadian-born Aaron S. Watkin one day before the National Arts Centre debut of Semperoper Ballett Dresden with his production of Swan Lake. Since graduating from the National Ballet School of Canada in 1988, Aaron has enjoyed a dizzyingly rich and varied classical and contemporary dance career with The National Ballet of Canada, English National Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, William Forsythe’s Ballett Frankfurt and Nacho Duato’s Compania Nacional de Danza. He speaks of his close association with Forsythe; making the leap from dancer to guest teacher and finally to artistic director of Semperoper Ballett in 2006 where he proceeded to build the company’s contemporary repertoire and modernize its troupe. In his ongoing attempt to erase the border between classical and contemporary dance, he introduced his Dresden audience to Jiří Kylián, William Forsythe and Mats Ek, among other choreographers. He also developed a passion for reimagining classical ballets.


10 Nov 2017

Rank #3

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Kyle Abraham

Cathy Levy chats with dancer-choreographer Kyle Abraham who was at Canada’s National Arts Centre in February 2014 to perform The Radio Show with his company Abraham.In.Motion. Kyle talks about his childhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and how his passion for music led him to dance. With the support and guidance of his parents and teachers he pursued dance studies and eventually joined David Dorfman Dance and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Kyle explains how The Radio Show, originally conceived as an homage to his father, also became a tribute to the Pittsburgh radio station WAMO. He then reflects on the accolades and awards he and his work received in late 2000 in the form of a Bessie Award and an important mention in Dance Magazine, as he and his company were struggling. Kyle Abraham also talks about his collaboration with world-class ballerina Wendy Whelan as well as the significance of receiving a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, being named the 2012-2014 New York Live Arts Resident Commissioned Artist, and being labeled the “best and brightest creative talent to emerge in New York City in the age of Obama”. Finally, he gives us a sneak peak at his works in development.


14 Apr 2014

Rank #4

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Alonzo King, Founder and Artistic Director of Alonzo King LINES Ballet

Cathy Levy leads a captivating conversation with Alonzo King the day of his company’s NAC presentation of SUTRA, an ensemble work created in honour of the 35th Anniversary of Alonzo King LINES Ballet. Born in Albany, Georgia, to a prominent 1960s civil rights family with ties to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, Mr. King learned early on the importance of aligning actions with beliefs. His natural love of movement led to a passion for dance and the eventual creation of his San Francisco-based contemporary ballet company, known for breaking the structure of the art form and for its intelligent and powerful dancers. Collaborative ventures are key and SUTRA showcases the unique talent of the tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain and master sarangi musician Sabir Khan. Mr. King’s other passion, education, saw him partner with Dominican University of California to create a four-year BFA, and a host of education and outreach programs for pre-professional dancers, youth and the community.


16 Nov 2018

Rank #5

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Jean Grand-Maître, Artistic Director and choreographer, Alberta Ballet

Cathy Levy chats with Jean Grand-Maître, Artistic Director of Alberta Ballet, choreographer and recent recipient of the Order of Canada, about the full-evening portrait ballet Joni Mitchell’s The Fiddle and the Drum that will close the National Arts Centre 2018-2019 Dance season. Co-created with the iconic singer-songwriter —who celebrated her 75th birthday in 2018— the work, which addresses war and environmental neglect, was initially produced in celebration of Alberta Ballet’s 40th Anniversary. Jean describes his first encounter with Joni, their relationship, past and present, her approach to creation, her extensive contribution to the ballet, her passion for humanitarian causes, and the degree to which she has inspired him. This original venture unexpectedly opened the door to similar collaborations with or about other supreme popular music artists such as Sir Elton John, Gordon Lightfoot, The Tragically Hip, k.d. lang and Sarah McLachlan. The conversation concludes with a few anecdotes about the entertainment industry’s homage to Joni’s life and career held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles in November 2018, and the legacy of Joni Mitchell’s The Fiddle of the Drum.


18 Jan 2019

Rank #6

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Contemporary dance performer and choreographer Daina Ashbee

Cathy speaks with contemporary dance performer and choreographer Daina Ashbee on the eve of the presentation of her first creation Unrelated, a dark duet inspired by the fate of Indigenous women in Canada. A native of Nanaimo, British Columbia, of Cree, Metis and Dutch descent, Daina credits Michael Jackson with awakening her passion for dance. She moved to Vancouver in her late teens to study at Modus Operandi and then dance with Raven Spirit Dance and Kokoro Dance before moving to Montreal where her career and reputation rapidly blossomed. Unrelated was followed by the installation When the Ice Melts, Will We Drink the Water? that earned two Prix de la Danse de Montréal and the Prix du CALQ for Best Choreography, the solo Pour, and her newest installation Serpentine. Daina speaks of her work and reach, her inability to separate her personal life from her art, and the support and stimulation her current association with l’Agora de la danse, Centre de Création O Vertigo and The Yulanda M. Faris Choreographers Program brings her.


7 Nov 2017

Rank #7

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Adolphe Binder, Intendant and Artistic Director, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch

Cathy Levy, Executive Producer of Dance at Canada’s National Arts Centre, chats with Adolphe Binder, the new Artistic Director of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, on the eve of the company’s NAC presentation of Pina’s iconic Café Müller and The Rite of Spring. Adolphe describes her introduction to the world of dance and her past involvement with a number of prestigious German opera houses, publishers and special events, including Hannover’s EXPO2000 and, most recently, Gotenburg Danskompani. The opportunity to lead Tanztheater Wuppertal was entirely unexpected and a huge mantle to take on given Pina’s legacy and gigantic body of work. Adolphe took on the challenge with the assistance of company members and supporters. Her 2017-2018 season for Tanztheater Wuppertal, includes several works by Pina Bausch and two commissioned works by Dimitris Papaioannou and Alan Lucien Øyen.


29 Sep 2017

Rank #8

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Tero Saarinen, Artistic Director and Dancer-choreographer, Tero Saarinen Company

On the occasion of the October 2017 National Arts Centre return of the Finnish contemporary dance troupe Tero Saarinen Company, Cathy Levy has a fascinating conversation with artistic director, dancer and choreographer Tero Saarinen. Tero came late to dance but quickly went from dance school to joining the ranks of the Finnish National Ballet, to studying Nepalese dance as well as traditional Japanese dance, butoh and martial arts, to creating on himself. An early duet caught the attention of Ohad Naharin who invited him to choreograph for Batsheva Dance Company. Over 40 works for his Helsinki-based troupe and commissions for world-renowned companies such as Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT1), Lyon Opéra Ballet, Gothenburg Opera Ballet and the National Dance Company of Korea, followed. Tero describes his company motto Aware, Alert and Attentive, the Tero technique, and how music is an endless source of inspiration. He then touches on his upcoming projects, one with Finnish accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen and the other with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, both premiering in early 2018.


13 Oct 2017

Rank #9

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Tedd Robinson and Charles Quevillon

Cathy Levy chats with NAC Associate Dance Artist Tedd Robinson, choreographer and artistic director of 10 Gates Dancing Inc, and composer Charles Quevillon on the eve of the NAC presentation and premiere of their latest creation Love & Other Things… a drama for flower, clay and bone. The two met in 2010 when Tedd was commissioned to produce a work for LADMMI and while Charles was at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal. They have since collaborated on over 20 works. The conversation touches on creative highlights, the genesis and concept for this new work and how it was influenced by Charles’ three-month residency in Japan where he studied with Yoshito Ohno, and Tedd’s lifelong obsession with Madame Butterfly. The May 26 to June 1st performances, to be accompanied by a graphic novel written by Tedd, were preceded by a two-week residency in the Alan & Roula Rossy Pavilion supported by NAC Dance.


23 May 2018

Rank #10

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Peggy Baker, Artistic Director, Peggy Baker Dance Projects

Cathy Levy’s conversation with acclaimed Canadian contemporary dance performer, choreographer, master teacher and mentor Peggy Baker opens with memories of Wim Wenders and Pina Bausch. From there, Peggy speaks of her youth, her fateful encounter with Patricia Beatty, her professional dance career that brought her to Toronto’s Dancemakers and then to New York’s Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Mark Morris and the White Oak Dance Project. She returned to Toronto in 1990 to form her own company to support her solo career and has been choreographing for small ensembles since 2010. Her most recent creation who we are in the dark that features Sarah Neufeld and Jeremy Gara of Arcade Fire was performed at the NAC in April 2019.


7 May 2019

Rank #11

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ENCOUNT3RS - Creation and Colaboration

In this bilingual panel discussion on Creation and Collaboration that preceded the world premiere of ENCOUNT3RS (April 20-22, 2017), animator Catherine Clark speaks with the six Canadian artists involved in this historic NAC dance-music commission celebrating Canada 150. Following a discussion between Executive Producer of Dance Cathy Levy and Music Director Alexander Shelley in 2015, choreographer Jean Grand-Maître (Alberta Ballet) and composer Andrew Staniland; choreographer Emily Molnar (Ballet BC) and composer Nicole Lizée; and choreographer Guillaume Côté (The National Ballet of Canada) and composer Kevin Lau were invited to create three new one-act ballets and three original orchestral scores to be performed by the NAC Orchestra under Alexander’s baton. The outcome was an extraordinary dance and music triple bill. The panel conversation centred on the genesis and creative process for each collaboration; the choreographer-composer relationship; the ground-breaking nature of this project; the impact this rare opportunity had on the creators and performers; the role art plays in helping us better understand the world we live in and in bringing us closer together; and the legacy of ENCOUNT3RS. In closing, the artists praised the NAC for commissioning a project of such magnitude and for its unrelenting urge to see it through.

1hr 8mins

19 May 2017

Rank #12

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Performing Stranger: A Dialogue On The Choreographic Universe Of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui

On the occasion of the November 2016 National Arts Centre presentation of Fractus V by Eastman, Dr. Yana Meerzon, Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre at the University of Ottawa, chats with Guy Cools, Belgian dance dramaturge and author of the books In-Between Dance Cultures: On the Migratory Artistic Identity of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Arkam Khan and The Ethics of Arts: ecological turns in the performing arts. The conversation touches on the role of dance dramaturge, the ark of the creation process of Sidi Larbi that led him to Fractus V, some of his associations, collaborations and influences including Alain Platel’s Les Ballets C. de la B., María Pagés, Antony Gormley, Patricia Bovi, and the Royal Ballet of Flanders, and on Guy’s two written works.


5 Dec 2016

Rank #13

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Michelle Dorrance

In this captivating NAC Dance podcast interview, Cathy Levy talks with New Yorker Michelle Dorrance, tapper extraordinaire and recipient of a MacArthur Genius grant, on the eve of her company’s National Arts Centre debut. Michelle always knew she was destined to be a tapper. Her mentor Gene Medler exposed her early to numerous tap legends including Jimmy Slyde, Jeni Legon, Henry Le Tang, Fayard and Harold Nicholas as well as to cutting edge artists like Savion Glover who would later invite her to become a founding member of his group Ti Dii. Work and praise followed as her knowledge and interest in the history and tradition of tap deepened. Through her company Dorrance Dance, founded in 2010, she pushes the boundaries of the art form through imaginative collaborations and pursues her lifelong commitment to education.


4 Nov 2016

Rank #14

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Catalan dance artist María Muñoz

Cathy Levy speaks with Catalan dance artist María Muñoz on the eve of her National Arts Centre debut in April 2016. María explains the significance of her separate encounters with Japanese dance theatre artist Shusaku Takeuchi, and with Pep Ramis, her long-time partner, collaborator and co-founder of the group Mal Pelo. In 2001, Muñoz and Ramis acquired a historic property in Gerona which they converted to a centre for multidisciplinary creation and research named L’animal a l’esquana. On a more personal level, María talks about the challenges of performing and tells us why she chose a Glenn Gould recording to accompany her intimate solo Bach.


22 Apr 2016

Rank #15

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Cathy chats with Madeleine Onne, Artistic Director of Hong Kong Ballet

In this NAC Dance podcast, Cathy Levy chats with Madeleine Onne, Artistic Director of Hong Kong Ballet, on the occasion of the company’s March 2016 National Arts Centre debut. Madeleine notes that dance chose her from an early age and explains how a passion for this art form led her to the role of principal dancer with the Royal Swedish Ballet, the creation of its offshoot Stockholm 59 Degrees North, and her eventual appointment as Artistic Director of the RSB. In 2009, she embraced the opportunity to join Hong Kong Ballet where she has worked diligently to develop the company of 40 dancers of various nationalities that specializes in classical and contemporary work and tours extensively. She looks forward to a future where it will have a permanent home from which to welcome the world.


6 Apr 2016

Rank #16

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Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation

A panel discussion, January 28, 2016 Cathy Levy hosts a pre-show talk with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Artistic Director André Lewis, choreographer Mark Godden, novelist Joseph Boyden, Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq, and composer Christos Hatzis on the genesis, development and collaborative process of the ballet Going Home Star –Truth and Reconciliation. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet created this contemporary full-length work relating to the legacy of residential schools with the aim of bringing Indigenous and non-Indigenous people closer together. As they describe their own individual contribution and creative process, the panelists pay homage to Winnipeg Elder Mary Richard, actress, producer and Indigenous activist Tina Keeper, and Steve Wood & the Northern Cree Singers. The closing remarks by Tanya and André are both sobering and hopeful.


29 Feb 2016

Rank #17

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Pontus Lidberg

Meet Pontus Lidberg, Sweden’s award-winning young dancer, choreographer and filmmaker. Over the course of this interview, he relates his early desire to create contemporary dance works and the opportunities that followed withStockholm 59°North, The Norwegian National Ballet, Morphoses, The Royal Swedish Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, and his own company Pontus Lidberg Dance. He describes his dance language, choreographic process and passion for filmmaking as well as his connection to the U.S.A. In closing he comments on the two works his company presented at the National Arts Centre on April 14, 2015: Snow, commissioned in 2013 by Sweden’s NorrlandsOperan for its centenary presentation of Stravinsky’s score The Rite of Spring, and Written on Water, a trio originally conceived as a pas-de-deux for American Ballet Theater principal ballerina Isabella Boylston that will soon form part of a new film.


6 May 2015

Rank #18

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Face 2 Face - 1/2

In this first of 2 episodes of a bilingual podcast, we meet the 5 artists featured in the National Arts Centre's 2015 Face 2 Face series, Experiences of Africa. They speak of their background and how they came to work in dance.


10 Mar 2015

Rank #19

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Lourdes Lopez, Miami City Ballet

National Arts Centre Executive Producer of Dance Cathy Levy speaks with Lourdes Lopez, Artistic Director of Miami City Ballet, shortly before the company’s March 5-7, 2015 NAC presentation. Lourdes talks about her early introduction to ballet and her 24-year career with New York City Ballet where she danced under the legendary George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. A brief career in television follows. She then leads The George Balanchine Foundation and co-founds the innovative dance company Morphoses with Christopher Wheeldon. In 2012, she succeeds Edward Villella at Miami City Ballet. Lourdes outlines her goals and long-term plans for the company and describes a typical day in her life as artistic director. Lourdes Lopez, Miami City Ballet La productrice de la Danse au Centre national des Arts Cathy Levy s’entretient avec Lourdes Lopez, directrice artistique du Miami City Ballet, avant les représentations de la compagnie les 5, 6 et 7 mars 2015 au CNA. Mme Lopez parle ici de son introduction à la danse et de ses 24 années au sein du New York City Ballet, où elle a dansé pour les légendaires George Balanchine et Jerome Robbins. Elle a ensuite entamé une brève carrière à la télé avant d’assumer la direction de la Fondation George Balanchine et de cofonder la compagnie de danse novatrice Morphoses avec Christopher Wheeldon. En 2012, elle succède à Edward Villella au Miami City Ballet. Elle nous fait part de ses objectifs et plans d’avenir pour la compagnie, et décrit une journée typique dans sa vie de directrice artistique.


2 Mar 2015

Rank #20