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March 27, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                             Media Release

DJD Celebrates 35th birthday with Major & Signature Grant from Calgary FOundation

CALGARY, AB… DJD got the best gift imaginable on its 35th birthday today–confirmation from Calgary Foundation of a $1.2M grant to complete the $28.5M capital campaign for the DJD Dance Centre, which opened its doors in April 2016. Calgary Foundation awarded DJD the grant from its Major & Signature Grants program, which supports large-scale charitable initiatives that are broad in scope and transform our community.


“We couldn’t be more thrilled with this news,” says DJD Executive Director Kathi Sundstrom. “We were proud as a smaller organization to accomplish what seemed like an impossible dream–building a new dance centre for Calgary. And our dream came true because of great community support, strong backing from all levels of government, and wonderful partners like the Kahanoff Foundation, Kahanoff Centre for Charitable Activities (KCCA), Suncor Energy Foundation, and Calgary Foundation. To receive this major grant from Calgary Foundation completes the campaign, capping off this truly remarkable project. What a perfect gift for our 35th birthday–it’s the icing on the cake!”


“From the beginning, Calgary Foundation recognized that the vision for the DJD Dance Centre naturally aligns with two of the Foundation’s vital priorities, community connections and the arts,” says Eva Friesen, President & CEO, Calgary Foundation. “We’re proud to support this amazing hub of artistic activity, congratulate DJD on their outstanding achievement in raising $28.5 million, and join them in celebration of their 35th Anniversary.”


The total cost of the project was $28.5M, which included $19 for the building (construction, soft costs, furniture and fixtures), $6M for an Operating Endowment and Operating Transition Fund (key to DJD’s future success), and $3.5M in land value.


The DJD Dance Centre has quickly become a dance hub and is transforming our community. Thousands of people come to the Centre for many reasons–to see a show, to attend an event or meeting, or to take a dance class. The dance community has warmly embraced the new facility with 15 resident companies working out of the space. Studios are bustling from 9am to 9pm seven days a week and the theatre is in high demand. Partnerships with festivals include Fluid Fest, Wordfest and the High Performance Rodeo. The building’s central location and welcoming design provide great visibility and community access.


From its humble beginnings 35 years ago, DJD has grown into a vibrant company that is known for creating original new works with live music, performing in Calgary and touring across Canada, running Calgary’s largest recreational dance school, and now for having built an amazing legacy for our city.

Fast facts about the DJD Dance Centre

We believe in dance for all and we want all people to feel welcome in our space. We recognize our place of great privilege in the dance community by having our own space, and we are committed to supporting others and fostering growth wherever possible. In our second full year of operations, our operating costs were only 5% higher than our operating costs plus rent in our last full year at our old facility on 4th Street, proving our expansion hypothesis–that this facility would enable us to expand in a financially sustainable way investing in artistic growth and community outreach.

Some new initiatives and successes include:

  • Since opening, we have given free or subsidized rehearsal space to over 30 groups and 78 independent artists; supported 40 dance workshops or events, and 70 organizations used our theatre and/or Community Living Room for 241 performances or events with over 19,500 people attending
  • Double the number of classes offered in our community dance school than in our former facility and more than 1,000 new participants in classes
  • $5 Class week for folks interested in sampling a class before signing up and drop-in cards for people who can’t commit to a full session
  • Youth Training Program (YTP), for dancers ages 6-14 years
  • More education programs including a partnership with CBE’s Discovering Choices Program; an expanded Educational Residency program with Elementary and High Schools; expanded workshop program with thousands of student participants, both at the DJD Dance Centre and at their schools
  • Creative Residency Program for choreographers working on specific projects
  • Artist-in-Residence program for artists with specific interest in working with the DJD company
  • A Day at DJD for teachers and students to experience the dance centre, take a class, go on a tour, and see an open rehearsal including a Q&A with the Artistic Director and dancers
  • The East Side Dance Festival for schools from our city’s most culturally diverse communities for two days of workshops and performing on our stage
  • Dance Community Concert, which is free to the community, featuring professional artists, emerging artists, and high school dance programs–everything from Forest Lawn High School Dance Program, U of C Dance Division, to O2 Dance Company and Ember Dance Company
  • Participants in our Dancing Parkinson’s YYC, a program for Parkinson’s patients and their caregivers, have much better access in our new building
  • DJD now has a permanent home for its professional Company. Since opening the Company has presented six shows of which five were premieres and one a remount to 12,000 audience members.
  • DJD has been designated by Canada Council for the Arts as an Artistic Institution for Dance, one of only six in Canada and the only non-ballet company

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For further information please contact:

Heather Close, Development & Communications Associate or 403-228-8181



October 17, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                             Media Release

                                              DJD Celebrates the Spirit of Josephine Baker in Year of the Horse

CALGARY, AB… DJD kicks off its 2014-15 Season with Year of the Horse, the completely fictional adventures of Josephine Baker from November 7-15, 2014 at Theatre Junction GRAND.  Featuring eight dancers, three musicians, and eight mechanical horses, DJD Artistic Director and choreographer Kimberley Cooper is creating a fictional fantasy in an exotic, erotic, otherworldly setting.

“I have been interested in the idea of Josephine Baker for some time,” says Cooper.  “She was such a brilliant jazz dance icon and an interesting and inspirational person. Last year, visual artist Lisa Brawn told me she was buying a collection of mechanical horses, the kind you put the quarter in and rode at the mall when you were little. I fell in love with the idea of Josephine Baker in all of her scantily clad, wildly physical, sexual but comical, mad survival instinct glory dancing in a landscape filled with these sandblasted ponies. Josephine was born in the Year of the Horse so it all seemed to fit.  It is going to be abstract, dream-like and non-linear.”

The music is original contemporary jazz played live by a piano trio: Rubim de Toledo (composer and bass), Chris Andrew (composer and piano), and Jonathan McCaslin (drums).  The production features eight dancers: Rodney Diverlus, Audrey Gaussiran, Marc Hall, Catherine Hayward, Shayne Johnson, Natasha Korney, Rubens Lopes, and Dinou Marlett-Stuart. Costumes, created by Natalie Purschwitz, will be influenced by the look of Josephine Baker in the 1920s and lighting will be designed by Wladimiro A Woyno Rodriguez .

Special Panel Discussion
As part of the Canadian Jazz Festival Kimberley Cooper, the three musicians and one dancer from the production will participate in a special 30-minute panel discussion, facilitated by Kenna Burima, following the matinee performance of Year of the Horse on Sunday, November 9.  FREE.
Tickets to performances of Year of the Horse and DJD’s spring production Ziriguidum are now on sale by calling 403-245-3533 or by visiting
DJD acknowledges the support of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Calgary Arts Development, Canada Council for the Arts, and corporate sponsors and partners Suncor Energy and FirstEnergy Capital.
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For further information please contact:

Helen Moore-Parkhouse, Marketing Consultant or 587-227-0150


June 19, 2013

DJD Appoints New Artistic Director


CALGARY, AB… Big news for Decidedly Jazz Danceworks as Founding Artistic Director Vicki Adams Willis takes on a new role while handing over the Artistic Director reins to current Artistic Associate and Resident Choreographer Kimberley Cooper.

“Vicki Adams Willis co-founded and has been the Artistic Director of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks since its inception, and under her leadership over the past 29 years the company has developed a signature style and gained a solid reputation throughout the jazz world,” says DJD Board Chair Claudia Moore. “What better time than now, as we embark on an exciting new chapter in the history of DJD, to announce the appointment of a new Artistic Director. Not only are we on the brink of our 30th Anniversary Season, we are also getting closer to realizing the dream of the Decidedly Jazz Dance Centre. At the same time that Kimberley Cooper takes on the role of Artistic Director, Vicki Adams Willis will shift to an important new position within the company, that of Founder in Residence.”

“As we navigate through the significant growth spurt afforded by our new facility, we want to ensure that artistic integrity remains our number one priority,” says Vicki Adams Willis. “The mentoring and training of the next generation of jazz dancers, choreographers, teachers and company leaders is going to be of vital importance if we are going to not only survive, but indeed soar into the future. I am excited about taking on the new role of Founder in Residence and handing over the artistic direction of the company to Kimberley Cooper. Kim’s deep understanding of the jazz idiom and the essence and breadth of DJD’s work within the idiom, her unwavering respect and immense passion for DJD and the art form, her remarkable talent and breath-taking imagination,  and her many years of dedication to DJD are unbelievable benefits to our company and our city.”

“I have had such an amazing career with DJD,” says newly appointed Artistic Director Kimberley Cooper, “and now to be taking this next step at such an exciting time in the history of this company and with so much support, I am so lucky.  And so busy!  Our future is very bright and full of possibilities. Right now I’m preparing the details of DJD’s 30th Anniversary Season which we look forward to announcing soon.”

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For further information, please contact:
Helen Moore-Parkhouse   phone 403.802.3406 


© 2018 Decidedly Jazz Danceworks