Kimberley Cooper is the Artistic Director of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (DJD) in Calgary, Canada. She has been a part of DJD for almost three decades, first as a dancer (1989-2013), then Resident Choreographer/Artistic Associate (2002-2013), and now as the Artistic Director (2013-present). She has studied, taught and performed all over the world. In 2002, Cooper was named Emerging Artist of the Year by Alberta Dance Alliance, and since 2002, she has created over 18 full-length works on DJD as well as numerous shorter pieces. She has created and performed in countless independent projects as well. She has served as an Artist in Residence during Calgary as Cultural Capital of Canada in 2012 and was awarded Dance Victoria’s Crystal Dance Prize in 2014 for her research in Brazil. Cooper has contributed chapters to the books; City of Animals, for University of Calgary’s Humanities Department about New Universe, a work she created with American jazz bassist and composer William Parker in 2017 and Rooted Jazz Dance: Africanist Aesthetics and Equity in the Twenty First Century (University Press of Florida, forthcoming). She is currently an Artist in Residence with Fall for Dance North (Toronto).
Kathi Sundstrom attended DJD’s very first production, Body and Sole, in 1984 and became an instant supporter. In 1989, Kathi joined the DJD Board of Directors and in 1992 became President of the Board. In 1993, Kathi made a courageous career move when she left the for-profit world to become General Manager of DJD. The move offered Kathi myriad new challenges along with a radical reduction in her annual income. She promised to work with the company for two years, and now, over 28 years later, is still at the helm. She was the proud recipient of the 2005 Rozsa Award for Excellence in Arts Management and the 2017 Calgary Awards for Community Achievement in the Arts. In addition to those awards and other achievements, Kathi also led the major expansion of DJD with the opening of the $28 million DJD Dance Centre in April 2016. Before coming to DJD, Kathi worked for 10 years for three different operating divisions of TNT Express Worldwide in western Canada, in roles in sales, management, and as a facilitator and trainer in Total Quality Management. Prior to that, she spent four years in management in western Canada for Mariposa Stores, where she coordinated the openings of their first two stores in the United States. Kathi graduated from SAIT with a major in Business Administration and Consumer Marketing and was listed on the President’s Honour Roll. Kathi served as Treasurer of the Canadian Dance Assembly from 2007-2011, was co-chair of the Mayor’s Lunch for Business and the Arts in 1999 and 2000, and was a member of the executive committee of the Calgary Professional Arts Alliance from 1994-2000.
Jina Abells Morissette
DJD Board Chair
Jina is a Partner at DHR International and is a member of the Legal practice group. She has over twenty years experience as a legal executive and board member. She started her career as counsel at Husky Energy working primarily with the Offshore & International group. She then took a position as General Counsel & Corporate Secretary at UTS Energy Corporation. She was a part of the executive team that successfully defended a hostile takeover attempt by Total Energy and eventual corporate sale. Jina was subsequently appointed Vice-President, Legal & Administration of SilverBirch Energy Corporation. Prior to DHR, she served as General Counsel & Corporate Secretary at Cavalier Energy Inc. In addition to her background as a corporate lawyer, she has experience in governance, human resources and executive compensation. An active member of her community, Jina has chaired and organized many fundraising efforts. In addition to being the Chair of the Board at DJD, she was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of The Calgary Airport Authority. Previously she served for ten years on the Board of Directors at Theatre Calgary including a term as Chair. In 2019 she was one of just five women who participated in the Rescue in the Rockies which raised over $600,000 for STARS Air Ambulance. She received the Top 40 Under 40 award from Avenue Magazine’s predecessor publication Calgary Inc. and the Top 40 Under 40 award from Lexpert Magazine a few years later. Jina has a Bachelor of Administration from the University of Regina with a major in marketing and an LLB from the University of Saskatchewan. She currently resides in Calgary with her husband Paul and two children.
Dance School Principal & Arts-In-Education Coordinatorjbaker@decidedlyjazz.com
Facility Rentals Manager & Administrative Assistantmblackburn@decidedlyjazz.com
Dance Centre Assistant Manager & Volunteer Coordinatorscarson@decidedlyjazz.com
Dance Centre Assistant Manager & Marketing Coordinatoracueva@decidedlyjazz.com
Jamie Freeman Cormack
Professional Training Program Directorjfreemancormack@decidedlyjazz.com
Vicki Adams Willis
Founder in Residence
Vicki carries on a family tradition that began when her mother, Alice Murdoch Adams opened one of the first dance schools in Calgary in the 1920s. Vicki’s passion for dance and jazz has taken her all over the globe. Besides teaching and choreographing for countless local and international organizations, including the renowned School at Jacob’s Pillow, Vicki founded the Jazz Division in the Faculty of Fine Arts Program of Dance at the University of Calgary in 1978, and co-founded Decidedly Jazz Danceworks in 1984 where she continued her role as Artistic Director for 29 years. She is currently enthusiastically embracing her new role of Founder in Residence at DJD. Vicki has received U of C’s Superior Teacher Award, Global Television’s Women of Vision Award, The City of Calgary’s Community Achievement Award for the Arts, and an Alberta Centennial Medal. She has also had a U of C Fine Arts Entrance Award named in her honour, has been recognized by U of C’s Women’s Resource Centre, and was named one of the University Of Calgary’s Top 40 Alumni. Vicki received the Established Artist Award at the 2009 Mayor’s Evening for Business and the Arts as well as the MacLachlan Community Beacon Award at the 2016 Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions, wrote Canada’s 2013 National Dance Week Message for the Canadian Dance Assembly, was honoured in 2017 with an Alberta Foundation for the Arts 25 Influential Alberta Artists Award and was awarded by the UCalgary Alumni Association with the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for Lifetime Achievement. Vicki was most recently awarded by the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Foundation with the 2021 Distinguished Artist Award.
Michèle Moss (BEd/MA)(she/her) is a dancer, choreographer, academic researcher and community educator. She was born in the UK of Jamaican and British parents, raised in Montréal, and has lived in Calgary since 1978. Michèle began as a tap-dancing tot in the UK before studying at NCC in Montreal (Negro Community Centre) upon arrival in Canada. She participated in further studio training, nightclub practices and urban dance forms as well as earning two degrees that moved her into the academe following a performing career with DJD. She attributes much of her jazz education to Vicki Willis and Hannah Stilwell and is so grateful for the many opportunities to learn and work alongside those women. During the years building DJD and many years since she continues to try to wrap-up the topic of jazz music and dance in a neat package, it can’t be done! She continues to marvel at the topic and enjoys revealing it layer by layer. Michèle is currently serving as an associate professor and chair of the Dance Division in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary. She continues her jazz research, which started in 1986 on the African continent, and has travelled back to Africa as well as to the Caribbean, and NYC and environs to conduct ethnographic and African Diaspora aesthetics research. She has served on numerous boards, peer adjudication, presented at conferences, written book chapters, and has been the recipient of many grants, choreographic commissions and international teaching opportunities.
Now found beaming proudly in the audience at DJD performances, Hannah remains entranced by the rhythms of jazz and enthralled by its evolution. Encouraged by her first (and best) jazz mentor, Vicki Adams Willis, Hannah dedicated herself to the discovery of the many dance forms that fused to become jazz. Starting in 1980, and lasting a couple of decades, Hannah spent countless weeks studying dance of all kinds in New York. In the mid-80s, she adventured to Africa to steep herself in the roots of the DJD style. In the early 90s, she explored movement in India, and in ’94 she began her love affair with Cuban music and dance. Her subsequent years of living in Cuba sowed the seeds and provided inspiration for the DJD production of BULLA!; still a vivid and treasured memory. Seeing all of these influences expressed in original ways on today’s DJD stage is exciting—and hugely rewarding for Hannah. She misses the dance studio, stage and the amazing DJD audiences an awful lot, and is grateful to the thousands of people who have made the long life of DJD possible.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The DJD board of directors is a group of community leaders interested in championing DJD’s future and fundraising efforts. Board directors share the organization’s passion for jazz dance performance, emerging artists, enriching Calgary with the city’s largest non-competitive dance school, and inspiring children through education and outreach.
2021-2022 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Jina Abells Morissette
Ernst & Young LLP.
International Frontier Resources
Ackah Business Immigration Law
Breaking Box Ltd.
Stifel First Energy
FRANK Architecture & Interiors
Salt-X Amine Solutions Inc.
Borden Ladner Gervais
Meghan Vallance Morin
DJD Board of Directors
The DJD board is a dedicated group of community volunteers whose role is to steward DJD with a focus on generating financial and community support for DJD’s vision. If you have been reflecting about how you might wish to give back to the community and are interested in learning more about our board and board committees, please contact our Executive Director Kathi Sundstrom for more information.CONTACT
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Congratulations to Vicki Adams Willis!
We are filled with pride and congratulations that our Founder in Residence Vicki Adams Willis, is receiving the UCalgary Alumni Association’s...
PTP Interview Series: Program Director, Jamie Freeman-Cormack
To start off our Professional Training Program Interview Series we asked Program Director Jamie Freeman-Cormack what the experience of running...
History of DJD
DECIDEDLY JAZZ DANCEWORKS In 1984, Vicki Adams Willis who had founded the jazz dance department at the University of Calgary,...