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message from the Artistic Director


Welcome to our 20/21 season.

These are unique times. How do we dance with a pandemic? How to we make art when our souls feel lost? How do we exist as a performance-based art form if we can’t perform? It feels like the world is on fire in many so many ways, how do we step forward when the ground is so shaky…

One step at a time.

We have decided to move together, as a company, as an organization dedicated to jazz dance. Some say Calgary is a funny place to find jazz, in this place, where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet, where we spend so much of our lives in a sea of snow, why here? A long set of circumstances, a strange alchemy of people, coincidence, a true testament to how art can reach people, touch us and change us. In our case this art is jazz, this music, this history, this way of moving that infected DJD’s founders and artists for over 3 decades still burns within us. We are guests in this form based in Black American culture and in the African American experience, we’ve always known we were guests, never claimed authorship, instead have worked hard to be respectful and responsible with our privilege, the times ask us to work harder, to do better, we rise to the challenge, we owe it to jazz and the people who birthed it and evolved it.

And we still look to jazz for inspiration and strength, we look to it for our score, for our philosophies. I recently heard Wynton Marsalis speaking about the rhythm section of a jazz ensemble- and how they all have to work together to agree on time, vibe, sound, to support one another even if they disagree, they have to listen and hold everything together.

So, on this day, when we hide our expressions and mishear one another through masks of fabric, of opinions, of social media, we want to connect to you and be honest with you with our bodies, words and spirits. Our performances may be virtual, they may be live, no doubt the ground will be shaky, but one step at a time, we will try to be your rhythm section.

We were beyond thrilled to be part of Toronto’s premiere dance festival Fall for Dance North (FFDN) in their virtual gala which premiered live from Toronto on October 3.. Calgary represented! Not only a premiere with live music by DJD, but also with a performance by recently returned from NYC, Calgary born, Lisa LaTouche with an incredible tap performance.

The gala featured four other exciting premieres as well, a brilliant sliver of art created by Canadian dance artists. It was a gift to have this performance to dance towards. Sabrina Comanescu, Catherine Hayward, Kaja Irwin and Natasha Korney and I worked on something that was to be part of last spring’s COVID cancelled performance Beautiful Noise. We were joined by Rubim de Toledo, Jim Brennan, Jonathan McCaslin, Raul Tabera and Bob Tildesley for this exciting world premiere, please join us!

Four more dancers returned in the fall and we are seeing how things unfold. We would love to bring you a social distanced live performance in our theatre in January, we will be creating something we hope you will be able to attend- maybe it will have to be virtual, maybe you will see it next season, it will be small, it will be intimate. In May we will hopefully bring you something a little bigger, a little bolder, a little more like what you are used to, but again, we can only see a short distance ahead, as May 2020 feels like a lifetime ago- our world will probably be very different by May 2021.

I feel in my bones that we can count on jazz to be there, I encourage you to listen to some, to soothe your soul, trust me, it helps.

We will keep you posted, and try to keep moving, one step at a time.


In the spirit of jazz,

Kimberley Cooper
Artistic Director


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