Ease + Agita (soft place to land)
TDT welcomes Leelee Oluwatoyosi Eko Davis and their project Ease + Agita (soft place to land). Through research and creative process Ease + Agita examines themes of rigour, care, while addressing the past, present, and future context of dance theatre.
Leelee will have a continued presence at TDT throughout the 2021-2022 season working on a new creation and proposing thoughtful activations. Eko Davis’ aim is to imagine new futures that cultivate collaborative creative practice. Through reciprocal exchange for artists and makers alike we find ways to contribute to one another. Stay tuned for calls to participate in upcoming phases of the project.
As the inaugural Christopher House Legacy Fund project, Ease + Agita engages community, practicing artists, and intergenerational individuals who share intersecting identities. As a curated reimagining, Eko Davis’ and collaborators will weave a remembering, alongside reflection and possibility, as the thread for this experience.
Audio Version: About Ease + Agita (soft place to land)
Leelee Oluwatoyosi Eko Davis during Banff Center Performing Arts Residency (2019). Photo by Jessica Whittman.
Leelee Oluwatoyosi Eko Davis’ practice is rooted in the foundations of contemporary dance and intermedia creation methodologies. As a disabled, transgenderqueer artist of Nigerian/French/Algonquin descent, working in decolonial frameworks is central to their research and creations. Being from Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Leelee has had the opportunity to train and work professionally across Turtle Island. Their artistic goals are to merge performance and life, stage and experience, building a bridge to revealing the human condition. They can most commonly be found, producing their own work as a solo artist, however often collaborate across milieus. Leelee has had the profound pleasure of collaborating with artists and interpreting for choreographers such as Jolene Bailie, Dayna Danger, Raven Davis, Jesse Dell, Yannick Desranleau, Vanessa Dunn, Audrey Dwyer, Reginald Edmund, Johnny Forever, Gambletron, Chloe Lum, Ryan MacNamara, Kate Nankervis, Alexandra Tigchelaar on works for theatre, film, and stage. Eko Davis also works as a program designer, facilitator, and consultant in the field of Social Innovation and Adaptive Change and is a Co-Artistic Director at the Toronto Dance Community Love-In.
Design by Johnny Nawracaj
The Praxis of Possibility: Community Practice and Engagement
As part of Leelee’s research throughout the season, The Praxis of Possibility is a two-week micro-residency in January with 12 invited community members who consider themselves to have an artistic practice in theatre, performance art, or dance. This is a cross-disciplinary opportunity for intergenerational community members to engage in a creative practice with Leelee, their research, and creative methodologies. The aim of this engagement is to nourish the participants and provide them with a professional stream experience that they would have otherwise not had access to. It involves group discussion, personal reflection, physical practice, improvisation, creative process, and community building.
P.O.P. Residency Curator & Facilitator: Leelee Oluwatoyosi Eko Davis
Artistic and Technical Support: Johnny Nawracaj
Artistic Direction: Andrew Tay
TDT Staff Support: Jasmine Au, Emma Joy, Jessica Whitford
Program Interpreters: Latasha, Kimberly, Ayoka, Jo-Ann
Special thank you to Arts Nova Scotia for supporting The Praxis of Possibility.
The Praxis of Possibility - Participating Artists
Photo by Manuela Batshmann Bernasconi
Anna Malla is a community organizer, educator, and artist based in Toronto. As part of her mixed media storytelling practice, she works with textiles, movement, natural materials and original soundscapes, engaging with the interplay between sound and movement. Her performance practice focuses on the body as a site of knowledge, disaster, violence, resistance, resolution, possibility, and freedom. Anna has been a member of The Switch Collective since 2017.
[Image description: A black and white headshot in side profile of a brown femme with light eyes, dark wavy hair, nosering, holding hand to cheek and gazing into the distance.]
brawk hessel sometimes goes by broke hassle, @br.awkward, howhen, hamlet (not that one), amy winerack, Max Q. Lynne (very feminine) and broccoli (only if you think it is necessary). brawk is a white settler and a gender nonconforming fag that uses they/them pronouns. Brawk is also a recovering addict, proudly mad, and a careworker. Their work has been featured frequently at Video Fag, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and Glad Day Bookshop. They are also a collective member of the community arts space, Unit 2, as well as the Bricks and Glitter Festival.
brawk is an emerging puppeteer, burlesque performer, and community organizer who began their community arts building practice and performance training under Oluwatoyosi Eko Davis’ mentorship over 5 years ago and it completely transformed their life. It is an understatement to say they’re excited to working with Leelee again!
[Image description: Brawk covered in green and yellow materials with only their face visible. Green-white tinsel is wrapped around their head and Dollarama bag underneath their face.]
I am Natasha “Courage” Bacchus, I am former 3 times DeafOlympican Sprinter. Since 2019, I have participated as an actress for “The Black Drum”, “The Two Natasha’s”, “21 Black Futures”, TV film Season 4 Netflix “The Corner”. I have participated as an art collaborator with numerous theatre and film productions in Canada as an interdisciplinary visual artist, art accessibility consultant, and activist for IBPOC Deaf art community and expanding IBPOC Deaf artists representation.
[Image description: Courage in her first theater “The Black Drum” as only black pioneer actress gave her motive to continue participate art community where there’s gap of Black Deaf actress in Canada]
Self-portrait from Emily Middelstaedt
Emily Mittelstaedt values play and collaboration. She is a Kanien’keháka dance artist and entrepreneur. Emily trained and graduated from Canada’s National Ballet School and The Royal Conservatory of The Hague, Netherlands. Highlights from her professional dancing career include working with the Semperoper Ballett Dresden, Dantzaz Konpainia in Spain, Jiří Kylián, and collaborating with Anita Nodilo. Emily is the co-founder of Dansii, where she is currently managing their mentorship program for emerging dancers and choreographers (learn more at www.dansii.org). Emily is hungry for opportunities to deepen her abilities and express herself in live performance settings.
[Image description: Emily is stepping on an open window ledge from a bedroom, as if she’s about to lunge off into the outdoors.]
Photo by Elizabeth Staples
Jordan Campbell (aka Jord Camp) is a queer performance artist working in theatre, dance and drag. She’s an electro-pop club kid creature from beyond. He is a half of the POP ART performance duo xLq, along with Maddie Bautista. xLq creates complicit audience rituals and interactive theatrical playgrounds. xLq is currently in residency with Nightswimming developing their new interactive performance, All for One for All. Jord is half of the PARTYPEOPLE Collective with Elizabeth Staples; together they create immersive drag-performance-art experiences for small audiences in public parks, using synchronized iPods. Jordan also teaches neurodiverse drama workshops at Purple Carrots Drama Studio.
“Hello! I’m Jordan, a queer performance artist and creator. I work in dance, theatre and drag, and I make a lot of immersive, interactive experiments. I’m a club kid punk at heart; I love to dance, dress up and party, whether it’s at a rave or onstage. I’m very excited to be joining this residency and working with Leelee again; this feels like a wonderful time to be in the studio, deepening my practice and asking questions about rigour and care with other creators. I’m grateful for this opportunity to come together in the name of creative research.”
[Image description: Jordan, a tall thin white gay man with a beard, is standing in a backyard, looking directly at the camera. He is wearing head-to-toe flashy, brightly coloured pop-art print (designed by Hayley Elasaeeser), including a bucket hat and bikini top with a matching mouthy print, and a jacket and pants with matching psychedelic green print. He is in bare feet, standing on pavement with a brick wall behind him.]
Juan Jaramillo was a former Child and Youth Advocate with the Ontario Advocate’s Office for Children & Youth for 9 years. He has managed the intake of calls regarding discrimination and rights violation complaints from children, youth, and families seeking help. He was responsible for providing consultation within the Provincial Schools for the Deaf-Blind and the Demonstration schools, disability learning program.
He was born in South America, Colombia, and he became deaf at birth. He moved to Canada at a very young age and grew up surrounded by Spanish music and learned the dance moves. His most popular performances were ASL versions of the song, “Rock Around The Clock” from the era of the 1950’s. Juan learned ASL dance choreography while a student at Gallaudet University and joined the Dance company. He co-founded Dancing Hands 1992, a group of deaf performance artists and toured for 22 years.
He specialized in ASL song Interpretation, actor, and ASL consultation for the theatre/films. One of his highlights was performing both the Canadian and American National Anthems. He has done this for the Blue Jays games in Toronto Skydome, the NHL 100 Centennial Winter Classic games in both Toronto and Ottawa 2017/2018.
He appeared in a short film called, “Toward You” as a supporting actor. This film received the MENA Film Festival’s audiences 1st Choice Awards in the short film category. He appeared in Season 2 of the CBC documentary TV series “YOU CAN’T ASK THAT.” He has also been involved in various theatre festivals, the Sound Off Deaf Theatre,, MAP Short Play (Chicago), Toronto Fringe and the Abilities Arts Festival and more.
MAP, Deaf Short Play Festival 2021, won the Judge’s Top 4 pick. His script is about Deaf people’s life experiences through their eyes. He has been selected for continued support and development of one of his scripts ” But the Truth Is”. He was invited to participate at the NTID Department of Performing Arts and will be hosting a Deaf Play Creators Festival in February 2022 in Rochester, New York.
He loves putting on a great show and providing accessible art & entertainment for everyone.
[Image description: Portrait of Juan smiling at the camera in front of a blue background]
Photo by Alvin Collantes
Jose Miguel (Miggy) Esteban is a Filipino-Canadian dance/movement artist and educator based in Tkaronto/Toronto. Miggy is a PhD student in the Department of Social Justice Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. His research engages with disability studies, dance/performance studies, and embodied practices of research-creation to encounter the interpretations of gesture as sites for inspiring a return to our bodies, to our (un)belonging within space, and to our movement in relation with one another.
“My intention for this process is to hold onto and be held by the presences that move us from our roots and through our routes. I wonder how this gesture of holding invites us into a rigour of care through which we might re-imagine, re-dream, and re-manifest our movement in relation with each other, with land, with memory, and with our stories.”
[Image description: A side profile of Miggy, a brown-skinned man wearing a long-sleeved maroon shirt speckled with grey. He is in front of a bush, looking down with eyes closed, as his fingers gently crawl over his face.]
Photo by Henry Chan
Nyda Kwasowsky is freelance dance artist, performer, Interpreter and emerging choreographer currently based out of her Tkaronto colonially known as Toronto. Her curiosity to connect humanity lies at the core of the work she is drawn to. Nyda has studied a large scope of movement languages leading to her interest in trauma informed somatic practices. Where states of the undefined; vulnerability, humanity, mystery, conflict, difficulty, process and ambiguity exist informing her personal practice and explorations choreographically. Her hybrid experience as a woman of colour (Indo-Guyanese, Ukrainian, British ancestry) has informed the importance of diasporas and colonial history in Nyda’s artistic development and processes.
[Image description: Portrait of Nyda, looking at the camera while holding their hands on the top of their head, while the sun hits the side of their face.]
Riley Kelk is a multidisciplinary theatre creator and writer. They graduated from Centennial College’s Theatre Arts and Performance program, where they performed in both traditional plays and devised theatre. Their roles include Time in Wonder (2021), Miles in She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms (2020), Judge/Ensemble in [FRAMED] (2020), and Butch Honeywell in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (2019). They have also participated in youth programming at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, where they collaboratively created and performed in The Youth/Elders Project (2017) and Clamorous Concords (2018). They are excited to make new discoveries in this micro-residency.
[Image description: Close-up portrait of Riley]
Robin Akimbo is a multi-disciplinary artist and advocate based in Toronto, but has performed and toured all across North America. She has been a part of several exciting performances, short films and video projects, most recently in BARE, as part of a Buddies in Bad Times Theatre showcase, and as a founding member of the site specific movement performance collective featuring two spirit indigenous and queer artists of colour: The Switch Project. Robin earned her Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from the New College of California for Social Change in San Francisco, with a minor in Experimental Performance.
Robin is very excited to be a part of the Praxis of Possibility Micro Residency, and to collaborate once more with Leelee Oluwatoyosi Eko Davis. Leelee and Robin first met co-creating Les Blues, the only queer Black showcase of its time in Toronto, with fellow artists Dainty Smith, Leroi NewBold, Kamplex, Amai Kuda and Kim Katrin Crosby. As a movement artist Robin works with themes such as transgenerational survival, knowledges and healing, Blackness, where nature exists in urban contexts, and the interdependence of communities.
[Image description: Robin Akimbo is photographed in an Afro-Caribbean wrap, dress and jewelry in a black-and-white close-up.]
Photo by Trina Turl
Rochelle Miller is a multidisciplinary movement coach and mindfulness facilitator with a primary focus on Trauma recovery. Her practice began over a decade ago through the eastern traditions of Yoga and Buddhism which provided a framework toward a path of liberation from suffering. This quickly led her into the study of Trauma at individual and societal levels and uses this understanding to support stress management and trauma recovery. In the most recent years she has diversified her movement study with modalities such as mobility, strength, dance & play based movement.
Over the last 7 years, she has worked with New Leaf Foundation as a Youth Worker, mentor and community leader; developing accessible movement and mindfulness curriculum to support populations affected by marginalization and historically underserved. She continues to partner with a variety of organizations to develop Trauma Informed Movement and Mindfulness practices and programming.
[Image description: Rochelle Miller – Wearing a grey shirt and blush pink tights, on a background of floral art]
Photo by Pavlop
Shadrack (Shadé) Jackman
Shadrack “Shadé” Jackman
Shadrack (Shadé) Jackman is an actor, singer and dancer based in Toronto, On. Jackman would categorize their practice as Rhythm and Blues (R & B). Shadé heavily juxtaposes musical elements, mood, tonality and lyrics with their various autobiographical lived experiences of how they navigate the world. Their goal is to spread light, uplift, and make dance a more inclusive and accessible medium.
[Image description: Black-and-white portrait of Shadé moving. Their arms are slightly crossed over each other, lifted up in front of their chin and shoulders.]