Tag Archive for 'choreography'

Ensmble: Masterclass & Installation at Film Gate Interactive Miami

Quick post as I’m working on the install right now: I’ll be premiering my new participatory installation work Ensmble at the Miami Light Project as part of Film Gate Interactive Festival. I’ll also be teaching a masterclass while I’m here. Info & tix on Facebook here.

Friday January 31

Saturday February 1

Miami Light Project, 404 NW 26th St, Miami, FL 33127

Jacqueries: The Technician

Who By Fire at Quartiers Danses

Who By Fire has its Canadian premiere this weekend as part of the Quartiers Danses festival in Montréal. I’ll be around for both screenings.


Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal

Saturday, September 14

Cinéma Beaubien

Monday, September 16

Click here for more info or to buy tickets!


Jacqueries is a heist story with a political edge — a site-specific live work with a companion iPhone app. It’s got a killer cast (Anisa Tejpar! Luke Garwood! Catherine Larocque! Mateo Galindo Torres! Anastasia Shivrina!), great music by John Gzowski, and video by Electric Square.
It opens in one week.
Get tickets!
If you want to buy tix at the door, please sign up for the production updates email list. We’re only using it for important updates (location changes, weather cancellations, app details &c), not for marketing or promotion.

Who By Fire

Who By Fire premiered February 4th 2013 as part of the 2013 Dance On Camera Film Festival at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Full info is here.

Behind-the-scenes / Concept Videos

Study #1
Study #2
Study #3
Study #4
Study #WellThatMostlyWorkedLetsGoForIt

Production Credits

Director & Choregrapher: Jacob Niedzwiecki
Director of Photography: James Sainthill
Music: ‘Who By Fire’, performed by Buck 65 ft. Jenn Grant, written by Leonard Cohen, used with the kind permission of Warner Music and Sony/ATV.


Gerald Situ, Adrian Anh Nguyen, Mateo Galindo Torres, Bradley Powell, Marissa Parzei, Tyler Gledhill, Sarah Koekkoek, Luke Garwood, Michael Caldwell, Shannon Litzenberger, Jones Henry, Louis Laberge-Côté, Martine Lusignan, John Ottmann, Johanna Bergfelt.


Simon Jackson, Jenna Savella, Ji Hong Sayo.


Production Manager: Pamela Steele
Production Designer: Yannik Larivée
Camera Operators: Rafael Giuliano, Ian McConachie, Simon Jackson Still Photographers: Dean Buscher, Holly Thomas
Hair: Alex Creighton
Makeup: Molly Adey
Production Assistants: Michael Brathwaite, Thaba Niedzwiecki, Margie Niedzwiecki


Witz Education
Canada’s National Ballet School
The National Ballet of Canada
John McLaughlin and Kate Arthur.

Beta testers

Ryan Booth, Krista Dowson, Robert Stephen, James Leja, Sonia Rodriguez, Dylan Tedaldi, Aarik Wells.

Special Thanks

Mentors, advisors, and all-round generous people: Rich Terfry, Phil Strong & John Oswald, Danny Hui, Craig McKay, Brad Copeland, Nick Blasko, Shan Du, Melissa Luu, Khoa Nguyen, Emma Niedzwiecki, Linnea Swan, Aeschylus Poulos, Jeff Morris, and Marc Kirschner.

Who By Fire was made with the generous assistance of MuchFACT.

Chorus and the Ring Fundraising Drive

Jenna Savella

Chorus and the Ring is the working title for the short film I’m currently working on. It brings me back together together with a few artists I’ve worked with before — National Ballet of Canada soloist Jenna Savella, Toronto Dance Theatre alumnus Luke Garwood, and Director of Photography James Sainthill — and features a few new collaborations, with an original score by Jamie Drake and the TorQ Percussion Quartet, costumes by Krista Dowson, and amazing, sculptural 3D-captured forms designed by painter and VFX artist Matt Crookshank.

We’re heading into the final stages of post-production, and we’re asking for a little help to get this project across the finish line. Your donation will allow us to get the most out of our 3D rendering, sound mix, and colour grading — putting the best final polish possible on the film and supporting Luke and Jenna’s amazing performances. We welcome donations of any amount; even ten or twenty dollars will help. All our supporters will receive a “Special Thanks” credit and an exclusive animated GIF of one of the dancers’ 3D forms, as rendered by Matt Crookshank. Donors of $75 or over will receive a framed and signed production still. So hit that button and give what you can!


We’re really excited to get this project out into the world. Thanks for your help! As a treat, there’s a few more stills below the jump. Continue reading ‘Chorus and the Ring Fundraising Drive’

Meet Cute at the Global Cabaret Festival

I’m back in the Distillery District! I’ll be performing my solo Meet Cute at the Young Centre on Sunday, October 15, as part of the Whirl Dance Cabaret. Tickets are $20. The show also features the fifteen other nominees for the first annual Young Centre Dance Awards. I was pretty excited to be nominated, given that the other artists in the Multidisciplinary Artist Category are William Yong, Heidi Strauss, and Marie-Josee Chartier. The show will close with an awesome dance party featuring DJ Serious, so it should be a great night!

Meet Cute (aka Canadian Tuxedo)

Meet Cute is a short, Dadaist romantic comedy. It was first performed at Fresh Blood 2012 at the Enwave Theatre in March 2012, and will be presented for Nuit Blanche 2012 as part of ‘Dada Reboot!’ at the Distillery District.

Always Be Closing – Next Week!

I’m premiering a new work, Always Be Closing, next week as part of At The Wrecking Ball V.

Always Be Closing is a bruising, physical, virtuosic solo for Montreal dancer Catherine Larocque. It takes the form of a hardcore sales seminar, putting the audience in the middle of the action.

It has a double musical accompaniment: Alec Baldwin’s testosterone-drenched monologue from David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, and the virtuoso Presto movement from Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto.

At The Wrecking Ball is happening at the Lower Ossington Theatre, at 100A Ossington Ave. There are four shows: Thursday February 9th through Saturday February 11th at 8pm, and a matinee on Sunday February 12th at 4pm. Tickets are $15.

The show also features work by eight of Toronto’s leading dance artists. It should be a great night!

Bastard Fugue

Bastard Fugue features Naoya Ebe of the National Ballet of Canada, and live camerawork by yours truly. It premiered at Fresh Blood, a group show of work by young choreographers hosted by The Chimera Project, on October 29th at the Enwave Theatre in Toronto. The piece is set to a Bach fugue for organ, arranged instead for mixed percussion, and uses live projection to explore fugue structure with a single dancer. Special thanks to Naishi (Kamen) Wang for his valuable participation in the creation process. More credits and special thanks after the jump.

Continue reading ‘Bastard Fugue’

Upcoming Premiere: ‘Bastard Fugue’

I’ll be premiering a new work at The Chimera Project’s Fresh Blood at 8pm on October 29th, at the Enwave Theatre. Bastard Fugue features the National Ballet of Canada’s Naoya Ebe (at right) and is set to the Fugue from Bach’s Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue in C Major, arranged for mixed percussion. Including cowbell. Bach + cowbell is like chocolate + bacon: two great tastes that go great together! You can buy tickets here.

Bastard Fugue fuses live performance and projection to explore fugal composition with a single dancer. The Bach fugue, originally composed for organ, is stripped of melody and becomes a propulsive rhythmic fundament for a powerful performance. Some preliminary special thanks:

  • Naishi (Kamen) Wang of Toronto Dance Theatre for his valuable participation in the creation process;
  • The National Ballet School and the National Ballet of Canada for donating rehearsal space;
  • Malgorzata Nowacka for the opportunity to show this work;
  • Jeff Morris and Robert Stephen for participating in the technical workshop which spawned some of the ideas explored in this work.

Eye For Film Reviews Helioscape

The UK website Eye For Film offers a review of Helioscape’s premiere at DANCE:FILM 09 in Edinburgh.

This is a beautifully composed work. Beautifully danced. Beautifully photographed. But what I particularly liked was there was neither an absence of cinematic technical innovation nor an excess of it.

Thanks to Chris for the thoughtful review.

Love in Vain (TBA:48)

Entry for the Dance Films Association “What Moves You” 48-Hour Challenge. Link changed to higher-quality version uploaded Sunday morning; the original is here.

Cast: Robert Stephen and Cristina Tucciarone. Special thanks to Pat and Cathie Dwyer, Aryon Elmers, Barbara Lane, Simon MacIntyre, Bev Peat, Jenn Stephen, John and Jane Stephen, Teri Worthington, and all our other donors.

Love in Vain: The Exclusive Making-Of Post

So my entry for the Dance Films Association’s 48 Hour Challenge got in on time and on budget. I owe a huge thank-you to everybody who contributed to said budget; I will be contacting everyone who made a donation to check if I can include their name in this post.

The film was made possible by the incredible team of people who jumped onboard this particular crazy train. Robert Stephen and Cristina Tucciarone were fantastic in the studio and in performance; I have to thank Robert—who has just been deservedly promoted to second soloist at the National Ballet of Canada—especially for putting attractive flesh on the bones of a very quickly-set piece of choreography. Elena Lobsanova (also now a second soloist) acted as rehearsal director and did wonders clarifying character in the choreography as the paint dried. Jeff Morris acted as my technical Yoda, and managed to remind me of various applicable laws of physics in time for me to figure out how to bend rather than break them. Pam Steele combined Stalin’s logistical talents with the grace and kindness of…well, not Josef Stalin. The miraculous John Webster got me thinking about the blues and shared much of his incredible collection of music. None of my work would be possible without Ryan Fontaine.

Two days is forty-eight hours. That’s a six-day work week, if you don’t sleep. And I didn’t, much. Friday night from midnight to three I bought and read newspapers, blogs, and tabloids; I came across the Sheela Ward Friendship Club, a syndicated classified column, in the Sun and the Globe and it hooked me immediately.

NY. 112-089. Correctional Institute Inmate. Tall, handsome Black gentleman. Romantic, compassionate, understanding, soon released. In search of a special lady for LTR. Age 40-60, race not important, a warm heart is.

TX. 112-088. Gentleman, financially secure looking for poor woman for wife. 50-55, very healthy, 5′ tall, under 140lbs, non-smoker.

IL. 112-094. Correctional institute inmate. I’m lonely, 28, handsome. Seeking a nice lady to write. Prefer if your over weight, unattractive, and older than I. Non greedy of course. Smile.

OH. 112-091. Correctional Institute Inmate. Smile. Promise, honesty, a lot of mail and smiles, a real friend, someone you can believe in. Implicitly on your time, allow me to earn your trust.

FL. 112-098. Correctional Institute Inmate. SWM 32. Good-hearted badboy. Been in twelve years. Shed a thousand tears. Love play, lots to say. Enjoy writing, studying, thinking, and laughing. Please respond.

The connection to the blues and specifically to Robert Johnson’s “Love in Vain” (the recording of which is in the public domain) happened almost automatically when I read the above ads. I slept for two hours and then literally shot from dawn to midnight (with some rehearsal time in the middle in a studio donated by the National Ballet of Canada). Saturday, I got a couple hours sleep and then hunkered down and edited.

The one disappointing part of the experience was the upload near midnight Saturday to dancemedia.com. I don’t know if their site was getting hammered with other entries, but it was sluggish and kept dropping the upstream connection. I’m sure there are promotional considerations involved, but I would suggest that the DFA use proven infrastructure like YouTube in future events.

I’m very happy with the finished film. Good music goes a long way, and this was: as Robert said, none of us got even remotely tired of it despite it playing on repeat for about twelve hours. Much of the tone emerged during editing as I watched Robert’s performance. I storyboarded the piece pretty carefully (if illegibly) and ended up sticking pretty closely to the plan in the editing.

Crucifixion Checklist

This is one of the many lists I scrawled before the shoot. You might think I was heading out to crucify someone; if you can’t read the chicken-scratch, it reads, “BRING: staple gun, hammer/driver, screws, dance stuff, advil, hacksaw, cell numbers, MUSIC.” I think that says it all.

Help Us Do Something Crazy

More information about the contest.

Helioscape (2008)

Helioscape on iTunes!

Helioscape is set for release on iTunes as part of TenduTV’s first ‘Essential Dance Films’ compilation. Below is a trailer for the film.

Watch in HD.

Epitaph for Paul Harvey (2009)

Epitaph for Paul Harvey is a solo for dancer set to a heavily edited speech by Paul Harvey (the American syndicated radio host) and a video projection. The speech was tagged and edited using a custom text engine programmed in Processing. The solo is a component of a planned larger work, Variations on a Theme by Adam Smith.

The piece was shown as a work-in-progress at the Drake Hotel Underground in January 2009 with Luke Garwood performing.

Fragments of the Apocryphon of Ezekiel (2008)

Fragments of the Apocryphon of Ezekiel has a long and recondite title but comes by it honestly. The piece was inspired by a chance connection between two works: Shostakovich’s Five Fragments for Orchestra, a short suite of sparse, enigmatic works written as preparation for his Fourth Symphony; and five fragments of writing dating to around the life of Christ that may have been part of a book apocryphally attributed to the biblical prophet Ezekiel. It’s hard to go into more detail about the provenance of the fragments without descending into even more Pynchon-esque levels of uncertainty; essentially, there is no evidence of the primary source (the Apocryphon itself) and the fragments survive only as quotations in other works.

The ballet consists of five movements, each pairing a musical and literary fragment. Two excerpts of the ballet were presented at the National Ballet of Canada’s Choreographic Showcase in September 2008.

The first and longest fragment is a parable, in which a king invites everyone in his kingdom to his daughter’s wedding feast, save two men: one blind, and one lame. They decide to avenge the slight by vandalizing the king’s garden, acting as each other’s eyes and legs. When the damage is discovered, they protest their innocence: their disabilities make it impossible for them to be the perpetrators. The king realizes they worked together and has them both flogged. The parable is that the soul is accountable for the actions of the body and vice versa.

The second performed fragment is in the voice of God, and translates as “As I find thee, so will I judge thee”; meaning, on judgment day, it is your present state of sin or grace that matters and not any of your life prior to the day.

Archival video of the work exists, but is not available online due to the terms of the collective agreement between Actor’s Equity and the National Ballet.

The excerpts were performed by Catherine Maitland, Joe Welbes, and Aarik Wells.

Superposition (2007)

Superposition (IMDB) is an adventurous exploration of the territory that lies between live and recorded performance. The film records three complete performances of a dance solo, each through a coloured filter—red, green, and blue—and then superimposes them to reveal the subtle variations and surprising correspondences inherent to live performance. Visually striking and conceptually daring, Superposition exposes the paradox of precision in live performance.

The film features the National Ballet of Canada’s Marissa Parzei and an original score by Dustin Peters. It was shot in front of a live audience in May 2006 and premiered in competition at the 2007 Worldwide Short Film Festival. It is currently distributed non-exclusively by Movieola through Ouat Media.


Okay, that’s the copy. Here’s the skinny: the film was a complete miracle. From concept to wrap was maybe five weeks. Dustin Peters composed an incredible six-hand piano score; I set the piece on Marissa in about a week; we organized a live shoot and all the pieces fell into place.

Then editing. We used six completely different cameras and three recording media (SVHS, miniDV, miniDVD). I learned how to colour-grade and conform footage by the same method monkeys use to teach their children to swim: throw them in the deepest part of the river and cross your fingers. I was dancing with the National Ballet at the time, and I started editing just as we went into a long rehearsal process for Sleeping Beauty. I‘d come home from the show around midnight, work until 3am, then be at class the next day at 11. I was actually grateful; facing Beauty without something else to work on might have done me in.

Auden Songs (2006)

Auden Songs is a 20-minute contemporary ballet. The ballet’s score is assembled from Benjamin Britten’s settings, for baritone and piano, of poems by W.H. Auden. Some of the songs were published as part of the cycle On This Island, and others were published individually. A recording of Auden himself reading “The Wanderer” acts as a score for the work’s prologue.

The work explores friendships and romantic entanglements between a group of young people. Excerpts of the ballet—totalling six movements and fifteen minutes—were performed in the National Ballet of Canada’s Choreographic Lab, an in-studio showing of new work, in August 2006 to positive reaction.

Please contact me if you are interested in viewing archival video of the work; it cannot be made publicly available due to the terms of the collective agreement between Actor’s Equity and the National Ballet.

Continue reading ‘Auden Songs (2006)’

Chiba City Variations (2004)

Chiba City Variations is a suite of four solos set to various poems written and read by Christian Bök. Each solo was inspired by a character from the works of William Gibson. The work was performed in June 2004 in the show No Refunds, a showing of new work by young choreographers at the Betty Oliphant Theatre. The performers were Courtney Gibbs (not in video), Jenna Savella, Luke Garwood, and Robert Stephen.

Collected Short Works

This entry collects several short works, many choreographed for workshops or as etudes.

Two Heterosexual Etudes

Set to three pieces from György Kurtág’s Signs, Games, and Messages. Two three-minute relationship studies, one of a father and daughter, one of a husband and wife; the title is meant to be a bit of a footnote as James Kudelka’s Fifteen Heterosexual Duets, while not the inspiration for the piece, served as a model with which to wrestle, argue, and occasionally agree. Created for Ballet Jörgen as part of their Solos, Duets, and Trios program. Performed in-studio at George Brown College in April 2009 by Tara Butler, Cristina Graziano, and Preston McBain. Archival video.

Capriol Suite

Set to two dances from Peter Warlock’s suite of the same name. One duet for a young couple, and one solo for a character dancer. Performed by Mark Dennis & Nikki Holck and Victoria Betram in June 2008 as part of the National Ballet of Canada’s Choreographic Explorations in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre of the Four Seasons Centre. Archival video.


Set to the song of the same title from Poulenc’s song cycle Banalités, based on poems by Guillaume Apollinaire. Duet, part of a planned setting of the entire cycle. Performed by Isabella Gasparini and Rodrigo Gonzales in July 2004 as part of of the National Ballet School’s Stephen Godfrey Choreographic Workshop. Archival video.

Private Words

Set to the intermezzo from Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tiresias. Relationship sketch. Performed by Jordana Daumec and François Robichaud in July 2003 as part of the National Ballet School’s Stephen Godfrey Choreographic Workshop. No video.

La dame de Monte Carlo

Set to Poulenc’s solo operetta of the same name. A sort of danced monologue. Performed by Mariline Goodhue and Scott Maybank in June 2003 as part of Gorgeous Little Things, a showing of new work by young choreographers at the Betty Oliphant Theatre in Toronto. Archival video.