Message from the Artistic Director – 2021/2022

By Kimberley Cooper
3 min read | October 25, 2021


I saw my first jazz music concert since March 2020 last weekend.  It was a small, distanced crowd, we all wore masks including the band.  I was surprised by how moving it was, how I was either smiling until my face hurt or choking up throughout the performance.  What it felt like in the space, I was sitting near the drummer and could really feel the percussion.  Watching the musicians communicate with each other with their eyes, they had fully admitted they hadn’t played together in a year and explained there might be more improvising than usual. At any rate it was a wonderful concert.  It reminded me why I do what I do, and love what I love.  Why live performance is such an important part of my life and I’d say, of civilization.  Gathering, witnessing humans create something beautiful together, and responding to it, even just with the energy of listening and watching, is truly profound.

We have been working safely in the studio, all vaccinated, since the end of July.  When we came back together, and could dance together unmasked, and touch, it was incredibly powerful. It still is. Our little bubble has been a safe glorious space and I am so proud of the work we have done and are now doing.

It felt like a huge triumph to complete, film and stream suspending disbelief as part of the NAC/Springboard’s #danceForth series that streamed nationally in September. We are currently creating the dance for the camera version of the piece as the NAC version was the stage version or, in other words, what you would have seen if you had come to the theatre. Why bother to make another version you ask? Originally it was to be a piece for the camera, as I was curious to explore that you can do with a camera that you can’t do on stage. We shifted to make it a stage version because we were thrilled to have been invited to be part of the #danceForth endeavor. But it’s time to move forward, with the help of a Canada Council Digital Now grant, to realizing the original impulse. It is a wild journey! We hope to present it to you early in 2022.

For the past many months I have been working hard on a new endeavor and it was my pleasure to co-curate Jazz in Motion: Portraits of Syncopated Souls with my fellow Artist in Residence, Natasha Powell, Artistic Director of HollaJazz, as part of our work with Fall for Dance North, Canada’s Premier Dance Festival.  Jazz in Motion… was an exhibition of each of our work including photographs, augmented reality video, a jazz playlist created with Jazz FM in Toronto, as well as much writing. It also included a wonderful interview via podcast with Nicole Inica Hamilton, producer and Radio host at Turn Out Radio.  The show ran from Sept 20- Oct 17 at Toronto’s Union Station.  You can check out FFDN’s website for more details

We have planned a 2021-2022 season! Our 37th in fact.  We are treading gently and don’t want to jinx anything…

In January, in collaboration with One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo, we bring you a new work choreographed by the DJD dancers.  Last season we explored an alternate performance area in the DJD Dance Centre–in what we call the “breezeway”–in co-founder Michele Moss’s piece There is Something in the Details. It proved to be a wonderful adventure for all, so for the 2022 High Performance Rodeo we are excited to present a new dancer-choreographed work called AMPLIFIED, performed from the breezeway for another in-car viewing experience. Stay tuned to learn how to reserve a spot for this exciting performance.

In April we have our fingers crossed that we will be able to invite you back inside the DJD Dance Centre Theatre with another original piece.  Not only will we be dancing with joy to an incredible jazz ensemble led by Rubim de Toledo, but it is also my pleasure to introduce you to some choreographic voices that are well known elsewhere but new to DJD. These are artists whom I have connected deeply with over the course of the pandemic and I feel such a strong kinship with them that I am calling this piece Family of Jazz.  The performance features new works by Brandi Coleman, Melanie George and Lisa Latouche, as well as a new piece by me.

Be well, I look forward to being in the same room with you.


In the spirit of jazz,

Kimberley Cooper
Artistic Director DJD