Back to Back Theatre (Australia)
Based in the Victorian regional centre of Geelong, Back to Back Theatre is widely recognised as an Australian theatre company of national and international significance. The company is driven by an ensemble of actors who are perceived to have intellectual disabilities and is considered one of Australia’s most important cultural exporters.
We contend our operation as a theatre company is beyond expectation of possibility: an affirmation for human potential. The company’s existence contributes to the richness and diversity of Australian life and palpably projects Geelong, Victoria and Australia to the world as innovative, sophisticated and dynamic.
The company has undertaken presentations and screenings at the world’s pre-eminent contemporary arts festivals and venues such as the Edinburgh International Festival, London’s V&A Museum and the Barbican, Vienna Festival, Holland Festival and Theater der Welt, the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, the Public Theater in New York, Festival Tokyo, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority in Hong Kong, and Buenos Aires International Festival.
Back to Back Theatre has received 21 national and international awards including the International Ibsen Award, a Helpmann Award for Best Australian Work, an Edinburgh International Festival Herald Angel Critics’ Award, two Age Critics’ Awards, a New York Bessie and the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Group Award for our long-standing contribution to the development of Australian theatre. In 2015, Bruce Gladwin received the Australia Council for the Arts’ Inaugural Award for Outstanding Achievement in Theatre. The ensemble were awarded the ‘Best Ensemble’ in the 2019 Green Room Awards.
- The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes (Feb 1-3; Online Feb 1-4)
the frank theatre
The frank is the oldest professional queer theatre company on the occupied lands of the Coast Salish Peoples, colonially called Vancouver, BC. We are one of few theatre organizations in the country led by a genderqueer, immigrant of colour, and we collaborate with a large community of 2SLGBTQ+ artists and arts workers. Through collective approaches, we create work that challenges Western, Eurocentric and Colonial aesthetics and storytelling.
- Club PuSh (Jan 26-27)
Jean Abreu (UK/Brazil)
Born in Brazil, Jean Abreu moved to London in 1996 after receiving a scholarship to study at Trinity Laban Conservatoire for Music and Dance. Jean Abreu received the Jerwood Choreography Award in 2003 following the creation of his first choreography, Hibrido. Since then his work has toured throughout the UK, Europe, Brazil and China including performances for Dance Umbrella, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Royal Opera House and Southbank Centre in London. Jean Abreu’s movement practice comes from his ongoing interest in utilizing the body as a powerful tool to articulate arresting emotional and complex ideas through dance. Creative & digital technology has consistently featured within and challenged Jean’s varied performance work.
In 2009 he founded Jean Abreu Dance and has since collaborated with influential artists across multiple art forms including rock band 65daysofstatic for Inside (2010), choreographer Jorge Garcia for Parallel Memories (2011), visual artists Gilbert & George for Blood (2013) and Brazilian sculptor and visual artist Elisa Bracher for A Thread (2016). His work Solo for Two toured across the UK in 2018 with further performances in China and Portugal in 2019. Jean has taught extensively in the UK and abroad in renowned dance organizations and Universities including London Contemporary Dance School, London Studio Centre, Dance Base (Scotland), International Festival of Morelos (Mexico) Roger Williams University (USA) New York University (USA), Balance Arts Centre (China). He is currently a regular guest artist at Bath Spa University, Portsmouth University, University of Bath, Greenwich Dance and Beijing Dance Academy.
- Deciphers (Jan 26-28)
Naishi Wang (Canada/China)
Based in culturally diverse Toronto, and born in Changchun, China mixed with Chinese, North Korean and Mongolian ancestry. Naishi Wang observes and studies the underlying motivations of the body’s movements and the emotions it conveys. Renowned for his exceptional improvisations, which he turns into incarnations of bodily meaning, Wang is also a practicing visual artist. His drawings, which take the form of dances on paper, echo his work in dance.
Part of the MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) program in February 2019 and also presented in Halifax and Hamburg, Germany. His solo Taking Breath demonstrated his interest in intimate forms of bodily communication, a subject he takes up again in the duet Face to Face which focused on our new modes of virtual communication and the factors that act in concert to convey our intentions in even the simplest exchanges. Naishi is currently collaborating with UK-based artist Jean Abreu entitled Deciphers and a trio named Eyes, Wide Open. He is an artist in residency at the Citadel, Harbourfront Centre and TO Live and has been awarded Les Respirations du FTA (2021), Small Scale Creation Fund from CanDance (2021) and Chalmers Arts Fellowship from Ontario Arts Council (2022).
- Deciphers (Jan 26-28)
Talking Stick Festival
The Talking Stick Festival, now in its 20th year, began as a way to showcase and celebrate Indigenous art and performance to a wider audience. From its humble beginnings, this unique and exciting event has grown into a two-week festival held annually across Vancouver. Talking Stick is known as the premier multi-disciplinary Indigenous arts festival in North America.
- Club PuSh (Jan 26-27)
Rakesh Sukesh (India/Belgium)
Born in Kerala, India, Rakesh was introduced to yogic principles and practices early on, setting the stage for his transformative journey. Dance unexpectedly entered his life at the age of 15 when he began as a Bollywood dancer in local productions. In 2003, Rakesh joined Attakkalari India, marking a significant shift in his trajectory. In 2014, he became a certified yoga teacher through the esteemed Shivananda Vedanta Centre, a step that deepened his understanding of movement and holistic well-being.
Over the past 14 years, Rakesh has dedicated himself to researching a movement method known as the IntAct-Method. This practical fusion of Kalarippayattu, contemporary movement, and yogic philosophy has gained recognition in reputable institutions worldwide. Rakesh has taken a hands-on approach in creating over thirteen dance pieces, each with its own distinct purpose. Currently, his focus is on developing a solo performance because i love the diversity (this micro attitude, we all have it), scheduled to debut at the PuSh Festival in 2024. In 2020, Rakesh co-founded and assumed a leadership role at Sanskar, a global performing arts platform. This pragmatic initiative aims to foster growth and collaboration, especially in India and abroad.
Human Cargo (Canada)
Human Cargo is a Toronto-based theatre company mandated to the creation, production and touring of new theatrical works. Founded in 2007 by artistic director Christopher Morris, Human Cargo creates innovative, theatrical experiences that provide audiences with a safe environment to engage in a thorough and provocative discussion of ideas.
We collaborate with theatre artists and companies in Canada, and around the world, to create our work. We develop our plays over long periods, in the countries and communities the play is set in, and present these productions in Canada and the places they were developed. To date, Human Cargo has worked in Nunavut, Iceland, Greenland, Israel, Palestinian Territories, Republic of Georgia, CFB Petawawa, Montréal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and Central African Republic.
We’ve presented our work in English, Inuktitut, Icelandic and Dari. Committed to removing the geographic/financial/cultural barriers between potential audiences and our work, we implement a touring/presentation model that reaches out to a new generation of viewing public. We believe this is the only way to engage 21st Century audiences in Toronto, Canada and the World.
- The Runner (Jan 24-26)
Donna-Michelle St. Bernard/Theatre Passe Muraille (Canada)
Founded by Jim Garrard in 1968, Theatre Passe Muraille (meaning “theatre beyond walls”) is one of the first alternative theatre companies in Canada. It was first based at Rochdale College, at the time North America’s largest free university and student residence.
Since then, TPM has attracted talented performers from across the country, affirming a pioneering Canadian spirit to the works made. As such, TPM has been a home for several well known Canadian theatre makers (Anita Majumdar, Bilal Baig, Brad Fraser, David S. Young etc) and theatre companies (Necessary Angel Theatre, Cahoots, lemonTree creations, Outside The March, etc).
Theatre Passe Muraille has a long history of touring their work nationally and internationally as well as presenting work from across Canada and also the world. Since 2015 TPM has made Accessibility an important part of the work within the company championing several accessibility initiatives including ASL interpreted performances, Relaxed Performances, Audio Described performances etc. Now entering its 55 anniversary season, TPM continues to develop, produce and tour several exciting new productions that take theatre beyond its walls.
- Sound of the Beast (Jan 20-23)
Theatre Conspiracy/David Mesiha (Canada)
Award-winning theatre company, Theatre Conspiracy, was established in 1995 by Tim Carlson and Richard Wolfe. The company is lauded nationally and internationally for its innovative works that combine interactive and immersive theatre with documentary form.
Examples include shows such as Omniscience & Foreign Radical. The company is currently lead by award-winning theatre maker, composer and designer David Mesiha and co-artistic director award-winning writer and director Gavan Cheema.
- Same Difference (Jan 24-28)
Nellie Gossen (Canada)
Nellie Gossen (she/they) is an interdisciplinary artist based on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations. Working through the media of fashion, costume, textiles and performance, Nellie uses clothing as a tool to think and feel through social systems.
With an interest in repurposing the materials, rhythms and choreographies of the mainstream fashion industry, Nellie practices fashion as a space of study, ceremony, and as a critical site of research into embodied experiences of consumer capitalism. Drawing on formal training in both Fashion Design and Religious Studies, Nellie is particularly interested in the space that is created when clothing and contemplative practices meet.
Nellie’s work has been presented throughout Canada and Germany. As a costume designer and textile collaborator, Nellie has worked with artists such as Nancy Tam, Steven Hill, Francesca Frewer, Erika Mitsuhashi, Alexa Mardon and Michaela Gerussi.
Alongside her artistic inquiries, Nellie studies and practices end of life spiritual care.
- Returns (Jan 7-Feb 3)
Tangaj Collective – Simona Deaconescu & Gaby Saranouffi (Romania/Madagascar/Germany)
Simona Deaconescu is a Romanian choreographer and filmmaker working across genres and formats. Shifting between fiction and objective reality, her work investigates liminal corporealities by meticulously looking at social constructs, sometimes with irony and dark humor. She founded Tangaj Collective, an interdisciplinary art and science company, and serves as the artistic director of the Bucharest International Dance Film Festival.
Born in Tamatave, Gaby Saranouffi is a Malagasy choreographer and art activist currently residing in South Africa. She is one of the most influential female artists pioneering contemporary dance in Madagascar, serving as artistic director for the I’TROTA International Dance Festival and the Vahinala Dance Company. Saranouffi draws inspiration from Madagascar’s tumultuous history to cultivate a distinct aesthetic in her choreography.
- Ramanenjana (Jan 19-21; Online Jan 19-Feb 4)
Les Nouvelles Subsistances – Inbal Ben Haim / Domitille Martin / Alexis Mérat (France)
Born in Jerusalem in 1990, Inbal Ben Haim grew up in the Israeli countryside. After studying visual arts, she discovered the circus in 2004 at the Free Dome Project then the Shabazi Circus. The call of heights and creating with her body led her to specialize first in the static trapeze, then the rich minimalism of the aerial rope.In 2011 she left her homeland to follow her artistic path in France, furthering her research through important artistic encounters and training: first at the Centre Régional des Arts du Cirque PACA – Piste d’Azur, then the Centre National des Arts du Cirque in Châlons-en-Champagne, from which she graduated in December 2017 (29th graduating class).
In Summer 2018, she premiered Racine(s) (Root(s)), which developed from her meeting the musician, composer, and arranger David Amar and the director Jean Jacques Minazio. At the same time, she developed a teaching method for therapeutic circus and worked in various contexts in Israel and France.
By blending circus, dance, theatre, improvisation, and visual arts, Ben Haim has created her own form of poetic expression. Largely inspired by the human bond made possible by the stage, the ring, and the street, she aims to create strong connections between the audience and the artist, the intimate and the spectacular, the earth and air, and the here and there.
- PLI (Feb 2-3, In-Person and Online)
Diana Lopez Soto (Canada/Mexico)
Diana is an award-winning multidisciplinary Mexican/Canadian artist, mother and land caretaker. She has presented and exhibited her work nationally and internationally in France, Panama, Mexico, Costa Rica, the USA and Canada. She creates, co-creates and performs site-specific work, vertical dance, art installations and experimental film.
Her interest in sustainable practices informs the direction of her collaborations and offerings. Some of her latest achievements are her participation at the Guapamacataro Art and Ecology residency, the Vancouver International Vertical Dance Summit and the ‘Ritual de las Aguadoras’ with the Tirindikua family from the Barrio de Santo Santiago Michoacan. Diana is the co-creator of Land Embodiment Lab with Coman Poon, an artist associate of Vanguardia Dance Projects and collaborates with Hercinia Arts, Femme du Feu, Look Up Theatre and Victoria Mata.
- NOMADA (Feb 1-3)
Ben Target/Soho Theatre (UK)
Ben Target (he/they) is a multi-award-winning comedian, performance artist, writer, actor and director. He was born in Singapore and has lived a peripatetic life in London, Voorschoten, Houston, Jakarta and Paris. In 2011, he won the national stand-up accolade, the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year. In 2012, his debut comedy show Discover Ben Target was nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer, toured to Australia and New Zealand, and was filmed as a special for the streaming service NextUp Comedy. He returned to the Edinburgh Fringe with Hooray for Ben Target (2014), Imagine There’s No Ben Target (It’s Easy If You Try) (2015), Orangeade (2017) and Splosh! (2018).
He has starred and co-starred in several comedy shows over the last decade, including Richard Gadd’s Waiting for Gaddot (Amused Moose Comedy Award for Best Show, 2015). As a director and dramaturg, Ben has worked with Kieran Hodgson (Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2023), John Hastings, Rob Copland, Katie Pritchard, and more. He has written for Joe Lycett (BBC Three) and Jamali Maddix (Channel 4), and teaches stand-up comedy at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Soho Theatre and Angel Comedy.
Soho Theatre is London’s most vibrant producer for new theatre, comedy and cabaret. A charity and social enterprise, we are one of the UK’s busiest venues, with a year-round festival programme with a queer, punk, counter-culture flavour, and a buzzing bar. We produce and co-produce new plays, work with associate artists, and present the best new emerging theatre companies and comedians. Outside of our London home, we have a UK and international touring programme, including presenting shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and close connections with the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. We are the UK’s leading presenter of Indian comedians from the burgeoning scene there, and we have a Soho Theatre Producer based in Mumbai. We film shows and create our own digital work, and this can be seen on Prime Video UK, inflight on British Airways and streamed from our website.
- LORENZO (Jan 18-20)
NOUS Théâtre (France/Haïti)
Created in 2001 in Haiti by Guy Régis Jr, NOUS Théâtre began its theatre work in the streets, cemeteries and universities. The approach is to bring theatre to the people. The form is paired down, ritualized, the speech is elevated. The discourse reflects the interrogations and the indignations of the company’s members on the social, political and economic situation in Haiti and the world.
The style ‘nous’ (meaning ‘us’) is about radical research and experimentation of theatrical gesture which shook up the Haitian theatre milieu. In 2009, the association NOUS Théâtre is created in France. It produces the works of Guy Régis Jr in France and internationally and works to develop artistic exchanges and encounters between France and Haiti.
The company produces artistic projects of various forms, from sound installations to performance and theatre creations, that can involve dance and/or music and/or video. The political speech and social engagement of the work, as well as the poetry of the texts, movements, images, sound and music compositions are all constants in the work of Guy Régis Jr. Themes of migration, human rights, social injustice, racism and discrimination of all kinds are very important to the texts and creations of the company.
- L'amour telle une cathédrale ensevelie (Feb 3-4)
Adam Tendler (USA)
Adam Tendler is a recipient of the Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists and the 2022 Yvar Mikhashoff Prize. He has been called “currently the hottest pianist on the American contemporary classical scene” (Minneapolis Star Tribune), a “remarkable and insightful musician” (LA Times), and a “relentlessly adventurous pianist” (The Washington Post) “joyfully rocking out at his keyboard” (The New York Times).
A pioneer of DIY culture in classical music, at age 23 Tendler performed solo recitals in all fifty states in a grassroots tour that was later the subject of his acclaimed coming-out memoir, 88×50. He has gone on to become one of classical music’s most celebrated artists, commissioning major works from composers as diverse as Christian Wolff and Devonté Hynes, and recently appearing as soloist with the London Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and as soloist on the main-stages of Carnegie Hall, the Barbican Centre, and BAM. An expert in the music of John Cage, Tendler has worked closely with the John Cage Trust and Cage’s publisher, Edition Peters, and performed the composer’s work internationally. He has also extensively performed the music of Julius Eastman and is featured on Wild Up’s latest album of the composer’s works, If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich. Other recent releases include Liszt’s Harmonies Poétiques et Religieuses on the Steinway Label, Robert Palmer: Piano Music on New World Records, as well as his second book, tidepools.
For his Inheritances project, premiered in 2022, Tendler commissioned 16 new piano works using the entire inheritance left to him by his father from composers including Laurie Anderson, Nico Muhly and Missy Mazzoli. A New York Times Critic Pick, the program was described as “not only a display of contemporary compositional force, but also a true show…with a sense of true dramatic stakes.” Adam Tendler is a Yamaha Artist and serves on the piano faculty of NYU. He is currently Artist-in-Residence at Green-Wood Cemetery.
- Inheritances (Jan 24-25)
Basel Zaraa (Palestine/UK)
Basel Zaraa is a UK-based Palestinian artist whose work uses the senses to bring audiences closer to experiences of exile and the search for identity. His current project, Dear Laila, is an interactive installation that recreates his destroyed family home in Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus. His previous work includes ‘As Far As My Fingertips Take Me’, a collaboration with Tania El Khoury, which was awarded outstanding production at the Bessie Awards in 2019. His work has been shown at over 40 venues and festivals across five continents.
- Dear Laila (Jan 20-Feb 3)
Cherish Menzo/GRIP & Frascati Producties (Belgium/The Netherlands)
Cherish Menzo (Brussels/Amsterdam) is one of the four artistic leaders of the dance organization GRIP, together with Femke Gyselinck, Jan Martens and Steven Michel.
As a dancer/performer, Cherish has appeared in the work of Lisbeth Gruwez, Jan Martens, Nicole Beutler, Eszter Salamon, Benjamin Kahn, Akram Khan and others.
As a choreographer, her powerful movement language comes into its own in her own work, which tours internationally.
Cherish seeks out forms of movement and being, while placing beauty and the grotesque on an equal footing. She consciously seeks out an alienating effect to guide both the viewer and herself away from the known. Away from the familiar that we sometimes too easily equate with ‘the (only) truth’. She floats between the nostalgia of 90s and 00s hip-hop and the realms of industrial hip-hop, rap lyrics, manga and speculative fiction.
She created JEZEBEL (’19) and
DARKMATTER (‘22) with GRIP and Frascati Producties, both productions were selected for both the Theaterfestival in Flanders and its Dutch counterpart.
GRIP was founded in 2014 by choreographer and dancer Jan Martens and manager Klaartje Oerlemans.
From 2023 on, GRIP choreographers Femke Gyselinck, Jan Martens, Cherish Menzo, and Steven Michel act together as artistic directors. They do so in close dialogue with Klaartje Oerlemans and Rudi Meulemans, who coordinates and facilitates the dialogue between the four makers in his role of artistic coordinator.
DARKMATTER (Jan 29-31; Online Jan 29-Feb 4)
Tangaj Collective/Action at a Distance (Romania/Canada)
Vanessa Goodman respectfully acknowledges that she lives, works and creates on the ancestral and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples. She holds a BFA from Simon Fraser University and is the artistic director of Action at a Distance Dance Society. Vanessa is attracted to art that has a weight and meaning beyond the purely aesthetic and uses her choreography as an opportunity to explore the human condition. Her choreographic practice is driven by weaving generative movement and audio into performative environments.
Her work creates a sense of intimacy between our surroundings and the body. She has received several awards and honours, including The Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award (2013); The Yulanda M. Faris Scholarship (2017/18); The Chrystal Dance Prize (2019); The Schultz Endowment from Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (2019); and the “Space to Fail” program (2019/20) in New Zealand, Australia and Vancouver. Her work has toured Canada, The United States, Europe and South America. Recent collaborations include Graveyards and Gardens with Caroline Shaw and BLOT with Simona Deaconsecu.
Working across genres and formats, Simona Deaconescu examines social constructs, at the border of fiction and objective reality, sometimes with irony and dark humor. Her work explores future scenarios of the body, creating spaces in which nature, history, and technology meet, and the notion of choreography extends beyond the human body.
Simona Deaconescu holds a BA and a MA in Choreography from The National University of Theatre and Film Bucharest and a BA in Film Directing from Media University Romania. In 2014, she founded Tangaj Collective, an organization that works with transdisciplinary artists and researchers. In 2015, she became the co-founder and artistic director of the Bucharest International Dance Film Festival.
In 2016, she received the CNDB – National Centre for Dance Award for her contribution brought to Romanian contemporary dance. Over the years, she developed part of her projects in collaboration with CNDB, and in 2022 she became an Associated Artist of the center. Developing artworks greatly influenced by science, she was supported by European Projects based on research and interdisciplinarity, such as Moving Digits and Biofriction. In 2018 and 2022, she was nominated as an Aerowaves Artist with her works Counterbody and Choreomaniacs.
Tangaj Dance: Facebook
- BLOT - Body Line of Thought (Jan 22-23)
Patrick Blenkarn and Milton Lim (Canada)
Patrick Blenkarn and Milton Lim are conceptual artists based in Vancouver, BC. Their collaborations include video games, participatory installations, and card games, exploring urgent questions around social value of art, digital labour, and the political and artistic potential of games. They’re also the co-founders of the national video archive of Canadian performance documentation, videocan.
- asses.masses (Jan 20-Feb 3)