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Dancers from across the country offer performances and workshops as part of this year’s Saint John Contemporary Dance Festival.

From its humble beginnings with a single performance at InterAction School of Performing Arts, the Saint John Contemporary Dance Festival has grown to become the region’s largest annual celebration of expressive movement and contemporary choreography.

“We set up chairs around the studio and used any lights we could find for lighting,” said Connection Dance Works’ Joanna Bryson, looking back on the event’s first year of programming that took place in 2011. “We had a huge audience and a great response and workshops were offered the next day by the visiting choreographers. We’ve continued to offer the festival every following summer, making small changes along the way.” 

The festival since grown into a three day event with a Kick-Off Party, site-specific performances, a Main Stage show and several workshops with guest performers and instructors. This year’s event will also include site-specific pop-up performances happening on Germain and Grannan Streets in Saint John’s Uptown District with a Main Stage performance at the BMO Theatre on Saturday evening.

This year the Main Stage show will feature two works,” said Bryson. “Jane Alison McKinney is performing her solo There She Was along with the premiere of Spill Herself Away by choreographer Marcia Dysart.”

McKinney, originally from Rothesay, New Brunswick, is an accomplished dancer, choreographer, teacher, producer and faculty member of The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. She describes her work There She Was as “a reflection on chaos and personal versions of escape. The person in this solo is a version of the individual and the audience at the same time; she is also a monster, a survivor, and an anti-hero.”

Spill Herself Away, a new work by Connection Dance Works’ Marcia Dysart, features dancers Liam Caines (Royal Winnipeg Ballet), Amy Boudreau and Amanda LaRusic with original music performed by Katie Bestvater and Nienke Izurieta.

“The festival is a mix of free and ticketed events,” said Bryson commenting on this year’s series of events that includes eight performances on Friday and Saturday and concludes with an afternoon workshop by New Brunswick born dance artist, teacher and writer Lucy M. May, who is now based in Montreal. “This year’s festival offers something for everyone.  The Kick-Off Party on Friday night has really grown in the past few years and provides a chance for the audience and performers to come together and mingle.”

The Saint John Contemporary Dance Festival begins on Friday June 23 at Buckland Merrifield Gallery with a party and performance by Toronto-based dance/movement company, Polynomials.

Learn more about this year’s festival and read about all the performers by visiting

Tickets for all events are on sale now!

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