Friday, February 13, 2015

Propeller's Experience at the GCTC



The initial thrill of being invited to be the GCTC dance-company-in-residence has only intensified over the past few weeks as Propeller has prepared for its debut performance in the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre.  

GCTC’s home is an exciting theatre space, with a superb cafe, varied art exhibits, an impressive mainstage, and a flexible studio. For those of us in wheelchairs, one feature in this vibrant, beautiful temple stood out on our first visit – the super accessible and clean washrooms.

During our first week at the theatre, Eric Coates, the artistic director, came to the studio and welcomed us.  Equally impressive, over the next few days, the entire staff took the time to come up to meet us.  I may not remember each one of their names, but I am sure none of us will forget the welcoming smiles, kind words, handshakes and hugs. 

Creating in the black box studio is intense. The studio helps us get deep into our work; it is like being in a separate world. Sometimes we need to leave the intensity of creating in that world and step out into the light of the Lorraine Fritzi Yale Art Gallery. It is inspiring to come out from the studio to be bathed in warm light and stimulated by art. We always return to our work feeling refreshed, ready to create.


We feel we have begun to make real friends at the GCTC.  This is because we were welcomed with respect, openness, and good will, all qualities we cherish and try to give back in all we do. As usual, I want to wow our audience, but this time there’s an additional hope – that everyone at GCTC who has welcomed us without reservation will be as thrilled with having us as we are about being here. 

Thank you!!





Liz Winkelaar has been a dancer in the Propeller Dance performing company since 2007. She has taught outreach workshops for Propeller, assisted with Propeller's children's program, and pioneered the Company's seniors' program. Having also studied disability art and culture at Carleton University, Liz believes that art can change perception, and is happy to be a part of a dance company that embodies her philosophy.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

FUSE and The Art of Collaboration

Collaboration, connection, togetherness… This is so much of what we are building at Propeller Dance while making great art (hopefully! You be the judge).

Humans are social creatures; we all desire warmth, physical touch, intimacy, and that most primal of desires, love - to be loved and to love. More need than desire, shared by each and every one of us, without which we shrivel. In these cold and dark winter months, our most recent show FUSE, and specifically our company piece I Need You? takes you on a journey of love, togetherness, and connection. Your presence, whether remotely or in flesh at a live show, means that you are collaborating with us, you are together with us, you are connected, you are plugged in and turned on.

Propeller is a community of movers, shaking and rolling in our Canadian contemporary dance diaspora, our newest works highlight the nature of collaboration and the interdependence that we all share. We have a strong legacy of collaboration, and while this is not unique to the artistic process, or to the lived human experience, the uniqueness we share comes from the depth of the collaborative creative experience in our newest trio of works-in-progress — I write ‘in-progress’, as for me a dance work is rarely, if ever finished, and if kept in the repertoire, is always an evolving entity.

These new dance works are true collaborations between all of the artists involved. I am proud to shout this from the rooftops – collaborating isn’t easy! It takes more time, it takes more trust; it takes a great leap of faith into the unknown. It is also the choice of Co-Artistic Directors to showcase this aspect of our working model. In the piece I Need You? the dancers have shared their essence through their movement and ideas, and composer and musician Jesse Stewart shares his incredible creative spirit and energy through his soundscapes in this true collaboration of sound and movement.  

Hope to see you at the shows – February 12th and 13th at the Great Canadian Theatre Company in Ottawa.


Renata Soutter is co-founder and co-artistic director of Propeller Dance. For well over a decade she has dedicated her professional career to dance, and specifically to dance innovation through creation, performance, community outreach and education. With a strong belief in the power of movement for all, she contributes to a growing inclusive open-hearted contemporary dance community.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dancer Health – Part 1: The Warm-Up



Preparing for anything in life is important, but especially so for dancers.

We need to train to be healthy, fit, strong, and flexible in order to perform any movement. We also need to express without words, so we need to train to have an open, clear mind, and to access our emotions and spirit on demand.

In order to access this in class, rehearsal, and in performance, a dancer needs to prepare a good warm-up to be ready to do anything! Below are some helpful tips on how to build a well-rounded warm-up.

Calm the Mind
  • See if you can breathe in and feel the breath expand your chest and belly, then feel the breath deflate your belly and chest. Repeat 10x.
  • Think of a relaxing place that makes you feel good - forest, the beach, etc.
  • Repeat a helpful phrase. For example, ‘I am here, I am calm, I am ready to dance.’


Mobilize and Hydrate the Joints
  • In a comfy position (chair or lying down), gently circle all your joints; head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, hips, knees, ankles, and toes.
  • For 5 minutes (set a timer!), sit comfortably, close your eyes and imagine you are being carried by the ocean. Make gentle waves with your spine: forward, back, side to side, up, and down. Try to keep moving for the whole 5 minutes!


Needing more Warm-Up tips? Stay tuned for DANCER HEALTH – Part 2…


Amelia is a professional contemporary dance artist in the Ottawa area. Amelia joined the Propeller Dance company in 2012, and now also teaches youth of all abilities for Propeller, and is Propeller’s social media gal. She also dances for Tara Luz Danse, Platypus Theatre, and Dorsale Danse, as well as other notable choreographers and organizations. Amelia is also a certified Ashtanga Yoga instructor and Yoga Therapist.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Travelling with Propeller

Moni about to go on her first train ride
By Linda Hoffman

On the road with the Propeller Dance Company has been an honour as well as an immense learning experience. Three words reflect the most recent trip to the inner-city of Toronto in a nutshell – the unexpected, the community, and the professionalism.





Unexpected: “Do we walk or wait?” This was the question as Renata, Moni, and Mom stood on the corner of Front and Bay streets waiting for the prescheduled Wheel Trans bus! As the minutes ticked by into over an hour, we took the plunge. Visually impaired Mom hung on to Renata and the power wheelchair tagged along behind the rolling suitcases. What a wonderful sight to see our stage manager/support worker Sion, and Bob - Dad to one of the dancers - waving at us from down the street. They had come to meet us and take our luggage!

Next on the list of unexpected was the wheelchair inaccessible “accessible room!” Again, the Propeller family came to the rescue, hauling out the furniture of the newly assigned room so the chair could gain some access. What a team!

Community: This word is used a lot, but during Propeller’s road trip to Toronto I constantly saw it in action. As one of our team members was hospitalized just prior to the road trip the community of Propeller came to the forefront. Roles were changed, people stood up to the challenge, and the impossible was accomplished. This truly is a group that pulls together as a cohesive family.

Professionalism: The Tangled Arts Festival’s Kidsfest was the event to which Propeller had been invited as one of three selected artists April 9th and 10th. In the heart of Toronto’s downtown, bus loads of kids were brought to the newly built and totally accessible Daniel Spectrum Cultural Centre’s theatre. Propeller performed magnificently. You would never know looking at the ease and beauty of the dancing on stage, the kind of craziness that went on beforehand. That is in essence being a professional.


Linda Hoffman is the mother of Propeller Dance's Performing Group member, Moni Hoffman, and accompanied the troupe on their trip earlier this month to the Tangled Arts Festival's Kids Fest in Toronto.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Community Day (and AGM)

Propeller Dance adult training class, photo credit: Andre Marleau
Saturday, December 7, 2013
1:00pm until 4:30pm

Richelieu-Vanier Community Centre
300 Des Peres Blancs, Ottawa, Ontario

Bring your dancing groove and join the Propeller Dance community in an end-of-term celebration! Live music! Baked Goods, t-shirts and water bottles for sale!

Later that same day, Propeller Dance will hold its Annual General Meeting for members from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. following the Community Day celebration.




Facebook Listing

Monday, November 4, 2013

Breathing Feet: An Intensive with Tara Brandel



Tara Brandel, a talented choreographer and performer did a two week intensive with Propeller Dance. Tara Brandel co-founded Croi Glan, an integrated dance company from Ireland. The experience was really fun and challenging and it helped me push myself as a dancer. We did some really interesting contact improv exercises. Contact improv is a kind of dance improvisation where dancers explore movement starting with the points where their bodies touch. It’s the sensing of the skin with another person. In contact improv, you feel the other person’s skin and you move through the sense of that skin. 

In the first exercise, we did some floor work. We did a rolling exercise where we had two people—one person does the rolling and the other person tries to stop the person who’s rolling with their hands.  When I was doing this exercise I could feel the weight of the other person stopping me. In Propeller I am used to giving weight to another dancer, but this felt different because of the new ways I was moving and because I was focusing on the sensation.  I could really feel the persons touch. I think it helped the company, and it also helped me a lot. For me, it actually made me feel like there are new ways of moving and it made me realize that these other ways of moving can help make my movement vocabulary much larger.


Tara also asked us to do an exercise that worked with memory. In this exercise we were in a circle and we did a movement and we did that movement until we were frozen. Then when we were unfrozen we repeated that motion and then added to that movement phrase, forming a chain of movements.  The accumulation exercise helps your brain and your movement become one, because you remember the movement and then you do that movement with your body.


I left the intensive feeling a lot of warmth. Sometimes the space in the dance studio is cold but as you warm up you find that when you move you become warm. In the intensive with Tara, we warmed each other through physical connection. We also connected emotionally. I felt happy and overjoyed that I made new friends who share the same passion as I do, as I really got to bond with other dancers outside of the company. I also got to deepen my relationships with the other dancers in the company.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Exploration Exposed - Thursday October 24th, 2013 9:00 p.m.

Propeller Dance, one of Canada’s leading integrated dance companies, invites you to an evening where creative explorations are exposed in contemporary dance made with invited choreographer Tara Brandel of Ireland’s Croi Glan Integrated Dance Company.

Join us for a showing of creative research results from two intensive in-studio weeks with the Propeller Dance Company and invited guest dancers Frank Hull (Toronto) and Jenn Abrams (Ottawa).

The evening includes a showing of Tara Brandel’s Gawky and Awkward, a very personal solo, revealing the things we struggle with and a dancer's creative journey through dyslexia.

Gawky or elegant: All are welcome.

Thursday October 24th, 2013
9:00 p.m.  
Churchill Seniors Centre
345 Richmond Road  
Pay-what-you-can ($15 suggested)
Tickets available at the door only. 


The Propeller Dance Company, photo credit: Rachel Gray

info@propellerdance.com