Arts & Health works with a dynamic group of professional artists from a multiplicity of artistic disciplines, including dance, writing, video, puppetry, voice, painting, weaving, carving, drawing and more. In addition to bringing expertise in their respective fields, these artists have experience in and receive training for facilitating community-engaged arts experiences through our Community of Practice programming.
What is community-engaged art?
A community-engaged art practice is a working collaboration between professional artists and community participants who work on the creative expression of ideas and issues that are important to them. It is cooperative, participatory, and focused on exploration, creation, and relationship-building. The process of creation is as important as the final product.
"Seeing each of the seniors glow with confidence was a fantastic memory that I will never forget."
"The challenges we experience through language barriers is also a gift. We all need to pay very close attention to each other in order to be understood and learn from one another"
"I believe that as we recall and reconsider our stories, we recall and re-consider ourselves, the world, and our place in it."
"Participants are gaining an enormous amount of confidence within themselves through this workshop and gaining confidence can only benefit your health.”
Anna is a contemporary dance artist with a keen interest in nature-based education. She loves being involved in community-engaged dance and the amazing people she meets as a result. Anna has had the pleasure of working on community dance projects with Joe Ink, Sylvain Émard Danse, Made In BC, LINK Dance and now the Arts and Health project. As a choreographer she connects her work to environmental advocacy, collaborating with organizations such as the St. George Rainway project, Ancient Forest Alliance, and The Urban Nestwork. Anna completed her BFA in dance at SFU in 2010 and will finish her Environmental Studies degree at Langara college in 2017.
Todd Devries first started weaving in 2001. Since then he has been perfecting his weaving techniques and weaving full-time. Todd, also known as “Giihlgiigaa”, his Haida name has been sharing his skills, and teaching other weavers how to master materials of their own choosing in a weaving circle in Vancouver, BC.
“Everything we need to know about weaving, we learn from the spider,” Todd says. “You start with 4 warps or strands (the spider’s legs) and weave in a weft strand or weaver, and form the Haida cross, and then weave around the legs of the spider, as a spider would when spinning its own web. Around and around.”
When Todd moved to Vancouver, BC in 2010, he started working for a small restaurant as a prep-cook and volunteered to perform a weaving demonstration at Stanley Park’s Northwest Coast Klahowya Village attraction. His work is on display and for sale at the restaurant, Salmon n Bannock. “Cooking and weaving seems to go together,” says Todd. Todd grew up separated from his culture, until in 1996 he reunited with his mother. And then in 2001, he started weaving with Cedar bark. Not until 2005 did he start weaving with the traditional Haida technique, demonstrated to him by Sherri Dick, and his style changed dramatically. In 2010, Todd learned some additional Haida signature techniques from Holly Churchill. His favorite material is western red cedar bark. Since his vision of the old woman of the forest, and a Haida woman asking him to get her some cedar bark, he has had a different perspective on cedar trees. Todd through his volunteer demonstration at Stanley Park, and through a weaving circle (2010 – 2014), has met with a few weavers who share techniques and project ideas to do. On his website, Todd’s hats and wristbands are on display. There are many more creations that could be made and added to the display, including placemats and more hats. Those items seem to be snatched up faster than he can make them. Todd Giihlgiigaa hopes to continue teaching and sharing this wonderful technique, materials, and weaving in general. Weaving is really motivating when you have a eager to learn group of weavers.
Olivia C. Davies
Olivia C. Davies is an independent dance artist, choreographer, and community arts facilitator whose work investigates the body’s dynamic ability to transmit narrative. Davies trained at York University, and in 2006, she co-founded Toronto’s MataDanze Collective where she co-created numerous revolutionary dance-theatre works and movement workshops. Commissioned to perform for open-air stages, galas, gallery openings, and music videos, Davies collaborates with artists to bring stories to life. Her choreography has adapted words by E.E. Cummings, Khalil Gibran, Julie JC Peters, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Carmen Aguirre and has been presented throughout Ontario and BC. Davies has interpreted work by Art For Impact, Body Narratives Collective, Dancers of Damelahamid, Maura Garcia Dance, Starrwind Dance Projects, and Circadia Indigena Aboriginal Arts Collective. Davies facilitates dance and storytelling workshops, creating safe spaces where women are empowered through movement. She honours her Metis, Anishnawbe, Welsh heritage in her practice. www.oliviacdavies.ca
Desirée Dunbar, MFA is an award winning dance-artist. She is the founder and director of Dezza Dance, Catalyst Mentorship Program & Dance Enhance for Older Adults. She is creator of the celebrated LINK Annual Community Dance Concert, LegUp! and the Connecting Community Dance Series. dezzadance.com/ catalystdance.net
Ana Elia Ramon Hidalgo
Ana Elia is a singer, songwriter and song carrier with a strong interest in exploring how one carries songs and offers song in a way that honours and serves what the world asks of us in these times. Traditional songs from her motherland and from other lands that carry grief, joy, praise, courtship and land sing through her of late. She brings this approach to song through her facilitation practices in the form of a language through which groups can meet and share stories in meaningful ways. Her facilitation work is grounded in creative and experiential pedagogies to create collaborative spaces and dialogue around social and environmental concerns. The model of facilitation she draws from is called The Creative Community Model and has been employed with youth and adults throughout the world. The goal of this model is to create an empowering container that enables participants to express their fullness.
Julia Ulehla is a vocalist, actress, and ethnomusicology PhD candidate whose performance and research draw upon traditional song from Slovácko—a region in southeastern Czech Republic at the base of the Carpathian Mountains. She leads the Vancouver-based ensemble Dálava, in which folk songs collected by her great-grandfather are reimagined in contemporary musical arrangements. Dálava has been called “a masterpiece” (fRoots), “incandescent” (Musicworks), “astonishing” (Georgia Straight), and “utter addictive and captivating” (Vancouver Sun). Besides performing internationally with Dálava, other recent collaborators include saxophonist Darius Jones (as an original member of his Elizabeth-Caroline Unit), vocalist Samita Sinha (in Enkidu), and the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards—arguably the world’s greatest laboratory theatre for the exploration of the actor’s presence and the transmission of oral and song-based culture—with whom she spent five years as an actress. During the past three years, she has presented her academic and performance research around Dálava in concert halls, academic colloquia, music festivals, workshops and classrooms.
Roxanne Charles is a mixed media artist from Semiahmoo First Nation.
She is an active and proud member of her community where she promotes
arts, language, and culture. She explores a variety of mediums including
digital, jewelry, engraving, painting, weaving, sculpture, ceramics, and
installation based works.
Roxanne received a BFA as well as a BA in General Studies with Minors in
Art History and Cultural Anthropology from Kwantlen Polytechnic University
is 2016. She is currently completing her Master of Fine Arts at Simon
Her work explores a variety of themes that reflect her lived experience as
an indigenous woman on Turtle Island. Some of the themes commonly
explored in her work are culture, nature, spirituality, environment, identity,
hybridity, urbanization, exploitation, intergenerational trauma, and various
forms of violence (such as lateral, systemic, and domestic).
Roxanne is a contemporary storyteller and historian would like to touch
move and inspire others through her work. Her work activates visual
representation, oral history, and ceremony. Methods which have been
utilized by the Semiahma People for thousands of years. Responding to
and documenting a troubling colonial present.
Matthew Ariaratnam is a sound artist, composer, guitarist, and improviser, who likes to work with sound as sonic material and as a point of connection to create happenings and relational interactions. He manages this through practices of field recording, soundwalking, musicking, and making site-specific performance. He is currently working on the project, Wayfinding // Wandering, with Julie Hammond, as Artist in Communities, at Sunset Community Centre, Ice Rink, and Moberly Arts & Cultural Centre for the year of 2018.
Matthew focuses on how the act of multimodal listening is a way of being in the world that provides specific knowledge and sensorial information, informing our relationships to others, ourselves, our environment, and community spaces. He has also been creating 1-minute pop songs under the moniker, dumbpop, and released the music on ‘rescued cassette tapes.’
Matthew’s work has been presented and supported by CBC, Vancouver New Music, Vancouver Pro Musica, The Vancouver Foundation, PuSH Festival, Richmond Art Gallery, Vines Art Festival, LocalFM, Vancouver Co-op Radio, and Co.Crea.Tive. His interdisciplinary collaborative practice with dance and theatre has lead him to show work in Toronto, Vancouver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Selections of his writing and scores have been published with Ecstatic Waves (Vancouver), The Mad Times (Toronto), CMA Journal (Vancouver), and Egress Mag (Ottawa, Montreal, & Fredericton). He has an MFA from Simon Fraser University and an Honours BMus in Composition from Wilfrid Laurier University.
Amy Shostak is an improvisor and creator living in Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish territory.
Amy started improvising with Edmonton’s Rapid Fire Theatre in 2002, and she served as the company’s Artistic Director for six years. Amy performed regularly in Rapid Fire’s Theatresports, Maestro, and CHiMPROV (a weekly long form improv show). She created two new festivals at Rapid Fire; The Bonfire Festival of experimental longform improvisation, and The Prairie Bowl, a community-building tournament for improv groups across the Canadian prairies. She also moved Rapid Fire Theatre from its home of two decades at The Varscona Theatre to The Citadel Theatre, where the company increased programming from two shows a week to five. In 2015, she was honoured with an Excellence in Artistic Direction Award from the Mayor’s Celebration for the Arts in Edmonton.
Amy now lives in Vancouver, and teaches improvisation for adults at Blind Tiger Comedy. She is the new Festival Director of the Vancouver International Improv Festival. She is deeply involved in her new community, teaching, coaching, and performing weekly.Improvisation has taken Amy many places. She has performed at Monkeyfest in Bogota, Improvention in Canberra, The Lost in Translation Festival in Milan, and The Wurzburger Impro Festival in Wurzburg, Germany.
In addition to improvising, Amy has a sketch comedy duo called Gossamer Obsessions, with co-creator Paul Blinov. They have toured the Fringe circuit, and to sketch comedy festivals across the country.
Amy is also passionate about civic engagement. In Edmonton, she served as co-chair of Make Something Edmonton, and was a founding member of the Theatre Edmonton Project. In Vancouver, she is completing her certificate in Dialogue & Civic Engagement from Simon Fraser University.
Vancouver-born bassist Mark Beaty has been a musical collaborator most of his life. He is the principal bassist for the Vancouver Island Symphony, and plays extra with the VSO and the Victoria Symphony. Longtime bassist for The Be Good Tanyas and director of the Cuban music ensemble La Candela, he has played on numerous JUNO-nominated albums. Mark served as musical director for Bard on the Beach (The Tempest – 2008, 2014), as well as the “Hands Around the World” international mural project (2014). He has performed across Europe, Asia and North America and has recorded for the BBC, Radio Netherlands, NPR and Stuart McLean’s The Vinyl Café on CBC radio. Mark holds music degrees from UVic and UBC, has taught at Pearson College and St. James Music Academy, and is currently the bass instructor at Douglas College in New Westminster.
Jeff has been performing and teaching theatre and improvisation for over 20 years. Originally from Calgary, he was a member of the world renowned Impro theatre Loose Moose Theatre Company, and earned a BFA Drama from U of C. Moving to Vancouver in the early 2000’s he joined Vancouver TheatreSports and has since worked with many of BC’s top theatre companies including Vancouver Playhouse, Arts Club, SFU Woodwards, Chemainus Theatre Festival. He has performed in Toronto (Rhubarb Festival, Summerworks Festival) and New York ( NY Musical Theatre Festival, Fresh Fruit Festival). Some favourite projects include Keith Johnstone’s The Life Game for CBC Radio, Onalea Gilbertson’s Requiem For A Lost Girl with Vancouver Opera (a partnership with The Kettle Society), Bruce Sweeney’s feature Kingsway (TIFF, VIFF 2018), and four seasons with Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival, appearing in last summer’s hit shows As You Like It & Macbeth. Jeff is a teaching artist with Bard on the Beach, including the Riotous Youth mentorship program and Bard For Life Shakespeare for seniors. Jeff is a Regional Representative for the International TheatreSports Institute which licenses and trains groups around the world in Keith Johnstone’s Improvisation formats, and is on the programming committee for the 2019 international conference and festival. Jeff has lived in Chinatown since 2015 and is passionate about creating and acknowledging community in the Coast Salish territories we are so fortunate to call home.
Veronica is a dancer, dance artist and dance movement therapist, passionate about the use of dance/art as tools for individual and social transformation. For years she has led community engaged dance programs with children, women and youth around the world. Born and raised in Mexico, she is currently honored to live in Coast Salish territory where she works supporting women to understand and integrate the relationship between their cyclical female body and their psyche. Veronica strongly believes that our body is gatekeeper of our story and, when given the safe space, it can express in movement what our soul is trying to say. In her role as a dance therapist, she aims to hold that safe space.