Dana Michel is a choreographer and performer based in Montreal, Canada. Before graduating from the contemporary dance department in 2005, she was a corporate marketing executive, a competitive runner and a football player. Her mainly solo-based pieces have toured through North America and Europe. She founded her company, Band of Bless, in 2005.
TOURING EXPERIENCE ( IN A NUTSHELL )
- In the past two years, I have spent on average one week per month outside of my home base.
- I do my own finding and booking. I do not have an agent/administrator.
- Early invitations were a result of responding to several calls for submissions and researching dozens and dozens of presenters and contacting them directly if I felt like there was a fit.
SELECT PERFORMANCES AND RESIDENCY EXPERIENCES
- Performance Mix, Joyce Soho, New York City
- Movement Research at the Judson Church, New York City
- TanzImpulse, ARGEkultur, Salzburg
- Rhubarb Festival, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Toronto
- Gershwin Hotel (residency and performance), New York City
- Volksroom (curated by Ivo Dimchev), Brussels, Belgium
- Le Chien Perdu (residency), Brussels, Belgium
- Commitment Issues, produced by FADO, Oasis AquaLounge, Toronto
- Hit the Deck, La Nouvelle Scène, Ottawa
- Dance Immersion Festival, Harbourfront Theatre, Toronto
1)The Proving Ground Festival
What: Performance at a festival
Who: Dance Theatre Coalition (Amy Caron, Director)
Where: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
When: 1 week in September 2007. Because I was a last-minute replacement, it all happened within a few months. Amy saw my work in March, contacted me around July and I was off to Utah in September!
I was programmed after Amy saw my performance at the Performance Mix festival in New York City in March 2007. I was actually programmed for the first time in Performance Mix through the Studio 303 exchange program! Amy had had a last-minute cancellation and contacted me. In general, she programs work that she sees and likes, though I believe that they do accept random submissions and sometimes have calls. The festival consisted of mostly contemporary dance and video work.
The support was phenomenal. The organization paid for and arranged my flight and my accommodations in an apartment hotel room. Amy also hooked me up with a (hot) bike while I was there, making transportation easy and cheap. Amy often took me out for dinner and lunches, during which we discussed our careers (we’re about the same age) and she offered me seriously valuable professional development/keeping sane in this career advice. Amy also arranged for me to teach a creative development workshop to two different high school classes – so that I could earn a little more money during my stay, and as a community outreach activity. I also gave talks to a local artist group and to the University dance department during a brown bag lunch.
While this did not lead to other gigs, I found the experience to be super personal, I met a lot of great people, had a lot of FUN. It was nice to actually be able to build a relationship with festival organizers and get to know them informally. Salt Lake City, though creepily quiet, was absolutely stunningly gorgeous and the week I spent there felt more like a vacation than anything else. Amy and I still keep in touch!
2) Festival Particules
What: Performance at a festival
Who: Theatre de l’Usine (Myriam Kridi, Programming, communications and press relations)
Where: Geneva, Switzerland
When: 11 days in January 2011. Myriam contacted me a couple of weeks after she saw my performance in September 2010 and just straight-up invited me right away. The festival was in January 2011.
I was programmed in this festival after Myriam Kridi saw my solo in Montreal during the Spark series produced by Studio 303 in 2010. I think Myriam tries to program “new stuff” that her audience hasn’t seen before. She’s willing to take small risks to try out things she deems to be different from what is normally programmed (in Geneva, at least). The theatre itself is a bit of an “alternative” space – it used to be an artist squat, which gives a bit of a “experimental-leaning” feeling to the festival. They program contemporary dance, performance, theatre and film.
At the time I was working with a different format for the work (1976) and planned on remixing the material and the music soundtrack with local artists every time I toured this piece. Myriam recommended musicians to me, and chose a local dance artist for me to work with.
In terms of support, the festival team was really warm and amazing. They drove me to and from the airport, set up a creation residency for my time there, transported my props to and from the work place, constantly checked in with me to make sure I was okay, and even reimbursed my plane ticket when I wasn’t able to secure funding. The festival set up an amazing catering and bar café situation, wherein we could have a free delicious lunch and supper and we were also given drink tickets every night. I was housed in a gorgeous and huge house not far from the theatre (a 15 minute bus ride).
The festival environment was REALLY incredible. They went to great lengths to really make this festival a big meeting point, a big party, really interactive. They made it such that artists were definitely going to meet and talk with each other and with the audience and with the Genevan arts community. I got the most feedback on my work during this festival than ever before. And the most different feedback from what I had heard before. And from all kinds of different people, many of which were not a part of the dance community.
What: Performance and residency within a special event
Who: New Dance Alliance (Karen Bernard, Director)
Where: New York City, USA
When: 1 week in June 2011. Karen contacted me a couple of weeks after the Spark series in September 2010, the Femmes residency and show took place in June 2011.
I had been developing a relationship with Karen over the past four years or so and she has consistently shown support for my work. She had already programmed me in her Performance Mix Festival twice before (in 2007 and 2009). The Femmes series is meant to highlight the mainly contemporary dance/performance work of 3 or 4 women and I think in the past Karen had always worked with the same group of women with whom she started the series – I believe that this is the first year that an “outsider” was invited into the circle.
Karen was definitely not able to offer me a lot of financial support – she was only able to cover my travel (by bus) to and from NYC, and I was given a small stipend to cover taxi fees and some meals. I stayed at her place, and she invited me to eat dinner with her family – and she’s a damn good cook, so that was actually wonderful. Staying with her allowed me to learn a lot about her career, this profession, her opinion on my work… We exchanged very personally about a life in performance work.
All of the performers were invited to further develop work in her studio (which is in the same loft where I stayed) over a period of a week, and we got together twice to look at each other’s work and then give feedback in studio and over dinner.
The overall experience was intimate. The audience was small, but the people there were super-enthusiastic and very generous about giving feedback. I received probably the two most glowing reviews (including one by Ms. Magazine!) of my work during this experience. And a heaping dose of sorely needed (at the time) self-confidence boosting!
Note : This story was written in 2012.