SHAUN AMYOT → BALLET
Dancer/ Choreographer/ Rehearsal Director/ Stager/ Dance Educator
Originally from Ottawa, Shaun Amyot started his dance training at the School of Dance before attending Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS). A Canada Council Grant for emerging artists took him to Europe where he spent a decade working with Netherlands Dance Theatre (NDT) and Ballet Frankfurt. He collaborated with numerous ground breaking creators including Jiri Kylian, Nacho Duato, Hans Van Manen, Ohad Naharin, Mats Ek and William Forsythe. He then conquered Musical Theatre in Toronto and on Broadway. Highlights include Ragtime, Annie Get Your Gun, Seussical, Cabaret and Chicago on Broadway and Sweeney Todd, Pelagie and The Overcoat for Canstage in Toronto. He has choreographed for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, the San Francisco Ballet School and most recently, Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS).
He was a member of the Artistic Faculty at NBS from 2006-2017 where he taught Improvisation Technique, Contemporary Repertoire, and Ballet as well as managing the Career Planning Program and the Post Secondary Program. At NBS, he was also the director of the Stephen Godfrey Choreographic Workshop and the Creative Challenge and Co Artistic Director of the Assemblée Internationale 2017. He has staged the work of Jiri Kylian, Nacho Duato, John Neumeier, William Forsythe, Demis Volpi and Aszure Barton. Shaun is currently pursuing a freelance career in Montreal.
SHANNON GILLEN → CONTEMPORARY FLOORWORK
Shannon Gillen is the founder and artistic director of New York’s visionary new dance company VIM VIGOR. Gillen is one of NYC’s most sought after choreographers with an established and passionate audience following and commissions at prestigious national and international venues. Through a prolific body of work that galvanizes the body’s potential to express intellectual and emotional concepts, Gillen has pioneered a recognizable artistic language that possesses heroic physicality, electric emotional life, and cinematic imagery that illuminates and heightens the narrative imagination. She was recently championed by Deborah Jowitt as ‘vastly gifted’ and VOGUE Magazine called her work ‘mesmerizing’. Recent creations and educational commissions for Gillen include the B12 Workshops in Berlin, the Ruvuelo International Festival in Chile, with New Dialect in Nashville, the Lines Training Program in San Francisco, the University of Michigan, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Springboard Danse Montreal, Manhattanville College and VIM VIGOR’s summer program in August.
MARGIE GILLIS → IMPROVISATION TEACHER
Internationally acclaimed modern dancer/choreographer, Margie Gillis has been creating original works for over forty years. Her repertoire now includes more than one hundred pieces, which she performs as solos, duets and group pieces. Over the years, Margie Gillis has won over loyal audiences with her masterful interpretation of the different facets of the human soul. Relentlessly, she continues to develop her work through experimenting, teaching and creating all over the world. She has been spokesperson for a number of organizations dedicated to the fight against AIDS as well as for OXFAM, Planned Parenthood, and various environmental causes. She recently launched The Legacy Project to involve a new generation of dancers in order to ensure her important creative legacy.
BOBBI JENE SMITH → GAGA
Bobbi Jene Smith is from Ames, Iowa. She is an alumnus of the Juilliard School, North Carolina School of the Arts, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. From 2005-2014 she was a member of the Batsheva Dance Company under the artistic direction of Ohad Naharin. She has worked and collaborated with a variety of artists around the world including Ohad Naharin, Sharon Eyal, Celia Rowlson-Hall, Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More and Martha Clarke. She is a certified Gaga teacher and has taught the repertory of Ohad Naharin in schools and universities around the U.S. since 2005. She is in constant process with her three most recent works, A Study on Effort, Harrowing, and Arrowed.
ALISIA POBEGA → BALLET
Dancer, teacher, co-artistic director of LIBERAMÆ performance & films
Alisia Pobega completed her dance training in Montréal at L’École Supérieure de Ballet du Québec. In 2000, Alisia joined Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and would dance there for over 12 years, rising to a soloist ranking and performing in pieces by a wide range of international choreographers. She has also appeared in several dance films, Vivaldi: Le Violon Magique, Puccini: La Fin de la Voix , Liberamæ and BERTH. She is currently dancing as an independent artist performing principal roles with Ballet Ouest (Nutcracker), Skeels Danse Montréal (Remembering Giovanni, On the Path Toward Home and Rose of Jericho), and in Daniel Ezralow’s touring production, PEARL. She works with Montréal-based choreographer, Jane Mappin, and is also a member of The Legacy Project, directed by Margie Gillis.
Along with LouisMartin Charest, she now shares the artistic directorship of the dance/ film company, LIBERAMÆ performance & films.Their latest projects include a short dance film, To Build A Home and the development of two future works, Port Hope and La Perte. Together, they have also developed and teach a series of workshops: Presence and Interpretation Method For Dancers. Alisia also teaches contemporary and classical ballet, notably for Danse à la Carte, Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal, l’École supérieure de ballet du Québec, and Les Studios (Les Grands Ballets Canadiens).
AMI SHULMAN → CONTEMPORARY
Ami Shulman performed with Compagnie Marie Chouinard and with Jose Navas and was a rehearsal director for both companies. She has set works on companies such as the GoteborgsOperans Danskompani, the National Ballet of Canada and Ballet BC. Ami has worked with the Cirque Du Soleil and has been a movement director in theatre, for the Shakespeare Theatre Company, the Grand Theatre Junction and Repercussion Theatre. She has choreographed installation works in collaboration with Movement Perpetual and Butch Rovan. Ami is a highly sought after teacher, her unique approach to mindful, anatomical relationships in movement has invited her to teach extensively including for places such as the Juilliard School, Jacob’s Pillow, the National Theatre School of Canada, the Rotterdam Danse Academy, amongst others. An Artistic Associate of the Springboard Project Montreal and a certified practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method, Ami is currently a member of the Dance-On ensemble, Berlin.
ALEXANDRA WELLS → IMAGE TECH© AND BALLET
As Principal dancer of the Ballet National de Nancy, Alexandra Wells toured the world and formed lasting partnerships with the late Rudolf Nureyev for six years and Patrick Dupont for four. Upon returning to North America, she was appointed Rehearsal Director with Ballet Hispanico. In 1995, she was invited to join the Faculty of l’École Supérieure de Danse du Québec. Since 1998 she has been a full-time faculty member at The Juilliard School as well as a guest teacher and curator for companies all over North America. Alexandra co-founded Springboard Danse Montréal in 2002, and has been the Artistic Director for the last fourteen years. In 2009, she created the Movement Invention Project as an extension of the New Jersey Dance Theater Ensemble. Alexandra has also spearheaded The Margie Gillis Dance Foundation’s Legacy Project/Projet Héritage under the Springboard umbrella.
TOM MENNIER → MUSICIAN
Tom Mennier is a keyboardist, teacher, performer, producer, arranger and composer based in Montreal, Canada. He has performed and/or recorded with international artists including Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Martha Wainwright, Emmylou Harris, Antony Hegarty, JC Hopkins, Amy Moses, Lou Reed, and Laurie Anderson. He has also worked in theatre (National Theatre School, Segal Centre, Charlottetown Festival, Banff Centre) and scored for film, including “Unpublished”, by Oliver Olsen, «Serveuses Demandées» by Quebec director Guylaine Dionne, ‘Frenching’ by Quebec animator JC Little, and various independent projects. Currently, Tom devotes much of his time to recording and producing local songwriters, composing and teaching.
FRANCIS POMERLEAU → DRUMMER/PERCUSSIONIST
Versatile and mostly self-taught, he plays drums in many musical styles: jazz, blues, r&b, pop, rock, funk, hip-hop/trip-hop, drum’n’bass, reggae, afro-cuban, brazilian.
He plays percussion instruments from Cuba (bongos, congas), South America (cajon), North and South Africa (tar, djembe, tamböa), and Ireland (bodhran); he also uses a collection of other percussion instruments from diverse origins to enrich his sound effects and his playing.
Since 2012, Francis Pomerleau accompanies Ami Shulman in her master classes for Springboard DanseMontréal.
He is a percussionist accompanist in contemporary dance since 2006 and he has played for: Ballet Divertimento (with Amélie Rajotte, Sonya Stefan, Chantale Desgroseillers, Eric Miles, Erin Flynn, Ami Shulman, Marc Boivin, Lea Ved, Zachary Tang, Belinda McGuire, Laurence Rondeau-L’Écuyer, Marie-Adeline Choquet, Sasha Kleinplatz, Rayco Cano Cortez, Yamandu Delgado); Département de Danse de l’Université Concordia (with Angélique Willkie, Isabelle Poirier, Sara Hanley, Caroline Laurin-Beaucage, Erin Flynn, Daniel Villeneuve, Kelly Keenan, Alanna Kraaijeveld, Charles Koroneho – Nouvelle-Zélande); Département de Danse de l’UQAM (with Johanna Bienaise, Dominique Porte, France Bruyère, Sara Hanley, Jill Marving, Ginette Prévost, Sandrine Vachon, Jamie Wright, Kelly Keenan, Hélène Melançon, France Roy, Manon Levac, Anne LeBeau); École Supérieure de Ballet du Québec (with Alisia Pobega, Louis-Martin Charest, David Rancourt, Hélène Melançon, Jane Mappin, Eric Miles, Paul Bertrand, Marc Boivin, Edgar Zendejas, Gioconda Barbuto); Département de Danse du Cégep de Saint-Laurent (with Véronique Dupuis, Caroline Cotton, Jean-François Légaré, Marianne Gignac-Girard); École de Danse Contemporaine de Montréal – ex-LADMMI (with Anne LeBeau, Marc Boivin, Nathalie Blanchet, Sophie Corriveau, Sylvain Lafortune, Jamie Wright, John Ottman, Christine Lamothe, Tassy Teekman, Lucie Boissinot); Centre de Création O Vertigo (with Nadine Thouin, Catherine Viau, Jamie Wright, David Pressault, John Ottman); TransFormation Danse (Danse à la Carte) with Caroline Laurin-Beaucage; Studio 303 (with Charles Koroneho – New-Zealand); Ballets Jazz de Montréal (with François Chirpaz, Cyrille de la Barre); Toronto Dance Theater (with Christopher House); Martha Graham Dance Company (with Lloyd Knight); and Académie Flamenca (with Sarah Vincent) in flamenco dance.
He was the cofounder and percussionist of the collective Métanimaurphoses, incorporating contemporary dance, music and Amerindian tales, with Marie-Adeline Choquet (dance / choreography), Marie-Noëlle Choquette (flutes) and québécois-abénakis Sylvain Rivard (tales), which performed at La Sala Rossa (2010).
He was a member of the Gypsy Swing Dance Band which performed at the Rialto Theater (2015) for an audience of swing dancers, and at the Cat’s Corner swing dance school (2016).
In 2012, he founded the jazz quartet Blue Gypsy Swing (gypsy jazz-swing-blues-r&b) which performed in various clubs in Montréal, and at the Montréal International Jazz Festival (2013).
He accompanied Montréal artists on stage and in studio such as: guitarist Christine Tassan (jazz manouche), Auresia (reggae-world), Laetitia Zonzambé (soul-r&b-funk-world), singer-guitarist Michael Reinhart (folk-world), and Robin Gorn (folk-country-r&b-jazz).
He was a member and cofounder of the Montréal pop-rock band SoulCirkus, from 1990 to 1994 (CD: Love, Spear & Injection – 1992).
ROBERT SWERDLOW → PIANIST
Robert Swerdlow has been an active member of the artistic community for over fifty years where he has contributed as an accompanist, composer, lyricist, producer and director. His musicals, dance compositions and theatre pieces have been performed by major companies and artists in North America and Europe. As an accompanist, he has worked with The National Ballet of Canada, The National Ballet School, Ballet BC, Les Ballets Jazz, The Royal Winnipeg, Alberta Ballet, La La La Human Steps, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Paris Opera, Metropolitan Opera Dance Co., Tokyo Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, The Joffrey, Monte Carlo Classic Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and Ottawa Ballet, where he was director of development and resident composer.
He began in the mid-fifties in Montreal in the studios of Elsie Salomons, Séda Zaré, Elizabeth Leese, Sonia Chamberlain, Eva von Gencsy. Then he moved to New York to play for Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Matt Mattox, Luigi, Alexandra Danilova, Agnes de Mille, Anthony Tudor, and on to Europe for Roland Petit, Erik Bruhn, Alicia Alonso, Rosalia Chladek, John Babilée, Rosella Hightower, Alice Nikitina, Serge Golavine, and the famed Lubov Egorova in the early sixties in Paris.
Among Mr. Swerdlow’s most noted compositions are 33, a full-length ballet commissioned by the State Conservatoire Ballet Company of Vienna, performed throughout Europe as part of Les Jeunesses Musicales programme for dancers. “The Playing Field”, commisioned by The National Ballet School, based on William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” and performed regularly by the National Ballet School’s graduating students; “The Tin Soldier Ballet”, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale starring Frank Augustyn, performed at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa each Christmas from 1992-95, and still continues to be shown on the CBC and the Disney Channel.
His musical, Justine, for which he wrote the music, book and lyrics ran for over one year in Toronto and then went to Off-Broadway where it won a prestigious Obie award, and remains to this day the longest running Canadian musical to ever play New York. As a result, he is one of the few Canadians to receive the honour of being inducted into the Dramatist Guild of America.
Mr. Swerdlow founded and was artistic director of Toronto’s famed “Global Village Theatre” for seven years. This avant-garde establishment housed a company of twenty performing artists and produced over one hundred original Canadian theatre pieces and dance works between 1969 and 1976, including Toronto’s first permanent production of Michele Tremblay’s Hosanna.
During this period, he created “Modern Fables”, a children’s performance group, which toured Ontario primary schools for over thirty years.
His songs have been recorded by such artists as Ginette Reno, Chris Christofferson, T. Farmer, Salome Bey, Bobbi Chapman and the Tony award winning Alexis Smith.
Mr. Swerdlow is currently semi-retired but continues to compose, guests for visiting dance companies and, best of all, is part of the accompanists’ team at the École de danse contemporaine de Montréal.