You CAN go home again—I just did.

Last week, Cassie, John and I were in Toronto for the Staging Sustainability Conference. Yes, Toronto is home to me, but I went even deeper into “home” than that. The conference venue at which I spoke on a panel was actually the studio in which I had created much of my work while I lived in Toronto. Discussing questions of resilience and sustainability in a room so full of memories made me reflect on the incredible journey I have taken and am still taking with Dance Exchange. It is not just that I have learned new skills, it is also that my thinking about dance, art-making, and life have been profoundly enriched by our work and the attention we pay to understanding the ”why” of it.

The technique class I teach now is very different from the one I used to teach. On the Monday evening of the week I was really able to observe myself from the outside as I taught a class at COBA (Coalition of Black Artists) which included old friends and former students as well as newcomers. Kevin Ormsby, Artistic Director of KasheDance and a former student and now colleague co-taught with me. Kevin was a visiting artist at Dance Exchange earlier this year and we co-taught then as well. One of the skills Dance Exchange fosters without is the ability to smoothly share facilitation. Following the class, two choreographers (both of whom had danced in my work in Toronto) shared work-in-progress and I facilitated CRP sessions for them.

By day, the conference with a host of interesting ideas and speakers; almost too much information. By night, I was off to participate in extra workshops. On Wednesday evening, after a full-day CRP workshop for PACT(Professional Association of Canadian Theatres) that myself, Cassie and John facilitated (despite a snow storm we had full attendance), I went on to teach a workshop for Jumblies Theatre Company, a group that does community-based theatre and story-telling.

Both these evening workshops were in spaces that hadn’t even existed when I lived in Toronto. The city echoed my personal feelings of holding on to the old and exploring the new. Yes I went home again, but both home and I have changed and grown.

(Here’s a photo of Cassie speaking on a panel at Staging Sustainability, courtesy of colleague and DX board member, Peter Whitehouse.)

About Shula Strassfeld

Shula Strassfeld began dancing “too late” and has been dancing ever since. She joined Dance Exchange in 2007.