Toronto Dance Profile: Amanda Acorn


As part of this month’s Toronto Dance Theatre Digital Residency, we’re profiling prominent artists associated with Toronto’s contemporary dance scene. See all of the profiles here.

Name your favourite recent dance production.

I just saw Jordan Tanahill’s work Declarations at Canadian Stage. Not a traditional dance work but I adored Liz Peterson’s performance so much, I can’t stop thinking about it. It was so rich, textured, exciting, surprising, funny and touching. The whole cast was amazing in it but I can’t get that woman out of my mind!!

I also adored the program at the last Flowchart at Dancemakers, new works from Francesca Chudnoff, Justin DeLuna and William Ellis. Both really interesting and beautiful in their own ways. Looking forward to checking out Minor Matter by Ligia Lewis and Contemporaneity at the Progress Festival this week.

What’s one dish or drink from a Toronto restaurant that you cannot do without?

I love the smashed purple yam dessert at Pinky’s Ca Phe in Little Italy. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, anywhere. Also their Tiger Milk Ceviche is super yummy. 

Where is your favourite place to go out dancing in the city? 

I loved the Feministry parties that used to happen at the Holy Oak. I’ll follow my DJ pals around town and go wherever they are playing. DJ pony, Cam Lee, Victoria Cheong … and still waiting to hear a set from Bambii!!! 

How do you feel contemporary dance in Toronto is changing? 

It seems the conditions for making and presenting dance are changing a lot and these elements impact artistic choices. With fewer large presenting bodies supporting and developing local artists, I’m seeing my colleagues self-presenting in smaller venues while the big guys throw money at large international companies that are more likely to fill a large venue. I think this can create some exciting work where artists have more agency over the kinds of projects they might like to do but is limiting in terms of scope and scale.

There are big conversations happening around diversity, racism and sexism in dance and what exactly do we mean when we use the word “contemporary”? As someone who makes work that lives in the Western, Euro-centric canon, I’m trying to listen and learn and identify my own biases in thinking about all of these issues within our rich dance history.

Is there a choreographer that you find especially inspiring right now? 

I just got back from the Push Festival in Vancouver where I saw an amazing work by the collective Hong Kong Exile called Foxconn Frequency (no. 3). It was a really challenging but amazing show that combined piano drills, gaming culture and poetry to look critically at technology and labour. So smart, political and also beautifully moving.

What drew you to The Glass Fields Project? 

I loved the proposal of the project! It was so interesting to me on so many levels – thinking about this idea of the archive as being present and alive through more than just the creator and the institution that created the work.

I have my own history with Christopher’s work as an alumni from The School of Toronto Dance Theatre and someone who studied modern dance in the city, so looking at my own history with my training and the institution itself was really fascinating. The idea of all of us in the room having such different amounts of knowledge of the original work and using those differences in the body to create texture and nuance. I was really interested in what parts were unknown or how certain details disappear or emerge based on any number of factors.

Some of the formal choreographic elements in the piece are things I like to play with a lot in my own work, so that was interesting to work on and play with in my own way. It was really pleasurable to look at someone else’s work and respond to elements of it that excite or interest you without having to conceive of the opus from inception. That’s the fun part of making for me!

What’s it like to collaborate with Toronto Dance Theatre?

It’s been great. It really feels momentous to be invited to be part of this program! I’m really honoured to have the chance to create here and be a part of the history of the company. It’s been so thought-provoking to work on this project in particular in looking at my own work as a new creator in response to something that is very much part of my dance history. I’m really grateful that Christopher invited me to be part of it.

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