27 Dec

This weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Valerie Calam. Originally from Sault Ste. Marie. Ontario, Valerie began dancing competitively at age 7, training in tap, jazz, and ballet at the Sherry Walsh Academy of Dance Arts.  She moved to Toronto at age 18 to attend the School of Toronto Dance Theatre’s Professional Training Program where she was first introduced to modern dance, falling in love with the Graham Technique.   After graduation, she had the privilege of working with Dance Theatre David Earle and Danny Grossman Dance Company.  Under the Artistic Direction of Christopher House, Valerie was a member of Toronto Dance Theatre from 1999-2009 where she had the opportunity to work with Peter Chin, Sasha Ivonochko, Sharon Moore, and Stephanie Skura.  Currently, Valerie is dancing with Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie and ProArteDanza where she recently performed works by James Kudelka and Guillaume Cote.   
6Valerie has been presenting choreography in Toronto since 1997 and uses the psudoneym name Vice Versa for her work in sound design and dance video.   She has created works for Toronto Dance Theatre, Alias Dance Project, Ryerson Dances, The School of Toronto Dance Theatre, as well as many of her own choreographies.  Valerie recently launched Company ViceVersa, a Toronto based contemporary dance organization, where she is the Artistic Director.  Valerie and Company VV will be   presenting their first full-evening work in January 2012 at The Citadel (309 Parliament, Toronto) through the assistance of Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, and the CreatiVenture Collective. Valerie has been nominated for four Mavor Moore Dora Award including Outstanding New Choreography in 2007.  She is the 2011 winner of the KM Hunter Award for Dance chosen by juries of experienced artists from a selection of grant applications recommended by Ontario Arts Council juries.  She is the drummer in the ‘new age punk’ band “The Tight Ship”  

Bio Provided by Valerie

Find out what Valerie had to say in this weeks shout out….

Nikki:Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Valerie: I was 6. My mom was watching and it was a sunny day.  I remember skipping across the floor in a line.    I’m now 36 and still love to skip across the floor in a line.
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Valerie: Hmm.  I believe it was a co-choreography with my two Sault Ste Marie friends (Chavelah and Tawnya) during the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Summer Program in 1988.  We had just come from a big American competition with our dance studio.  I was really into tap and jazz.  We pulled off a lip-synced version of Whitney Houston’s “I wanna dance with somebody”. We were a hit, even though the number before us used the same music.
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Valerie: Listen to the music.  Be the music.  Don’t rush. Don’t plan ahead.  Stay cool. 
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you? 
Valerie: I’ve been pretty lucky with that.  I always feel pretty much ‘in the zone’.  I work in other peoples’ creative processes frequently so when it’s time for my own I’m completely ready.  Having opportunities to choreograph is a real gift.
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry? 
Valerie: Bruce Ykanji, Salah, Niels “Storm” Robitzky, Jan Fabre, Wim Vandekeybus, Meg Stuart.  Locally, I’m inspired and influenced by Apolonia & Ofilio of Gadfly Dance Company and dancer/teacher/presenter Mariano Abarca. 
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why? 
Valerie: Wow… that’s a tough one.   Well, I spent 9 years working with Christopher House (Artistic Director of Toronto Dance Theatre).  He taught me many things and I enjoyed my time there very much. 
I recently worked with Guillaume Cote (principal at National Ballet of Canada) and I found his process very interesting and challenging.  He’s a nice ballet guy who likes heavy metal music.
I love working with James Kudelka.  He is genius.  I am constantly surprised.
I also had a chance to work with D.A. Hoskins.  That experience was very consuming in a good way.  I really felt like I was a part of something.   
Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why? 
Valerie: My favorite artist to work with is musician/composer Paul Shepherd.  I have many runner-ups like Luke Garwood, Brendan Jensen, Kristy Kennedy, and Tina Fushell.  They are all very gifted and curious.  We work together in a real back-and-forth collaborative way.  I propose an idea, we work on it, we discuss it, and out of that, they propose a new idea that is an evolved version of the original idea.  It seems to continue like that.
Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?
Valerie: I am currently working on my first full-evening piece entitled “Children of the Triangle” that will debut Company Vice Versa, a new local contemporary dance company where I am the Artistic Director.  Yay!  The piece will be presented at The Citadel, the newly renovated home of Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie.  January 11th-15th 2012.  Check out our Facebook page or website (
Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?
Valerie: Hard working.  Curious.  Beautiful. 
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Valerie: Do what inspires you.  Find comfort in the community.  Ask for help.  Seek out a mentor.  

Children of the ▼ from valerie calam on Vimeo.


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