Community choreography: Unique dance company looking for new members

By Judith van Berkom – 

PushPULL Dance is a not-for-profit, member-run organization providing dancing opportunities for non-professional dancers with diverse backgrounds and professional lives.

This unique dance company, originally from Toronto, launches their 2017/2018 season early September with a free dance workshop and audition at the Hintonburg Community Centre (HCC).

A theme is chosen early in the season which is then explored through a variety of choreographies and dance styles including ballet, jazz, contemporary, reggae, modern, ballroom and tap.

At the opening of each season, all members (including members from previous seasons) audition. The two-part audition includes a dance and interview section. Members commit to practicing twice a week, preparing for the annual show at Centrepointe Theatre in May of 2018.

Kristin Stockwell and Natasja Billiau of PushPULL Dance.
Kristin Stockwell and Natasja Billiau of PushPULL Dance. Photo by Judith van Berkom

Natasja Billiau, current producer for the 2017/18 season and Kitchissippi ward resident, describes PushPULL Dance as a group effort, which is something she loves about the company.

“It offers the opportunity for members to use their skills in their day jobs in helping out and contributing to the company – in social media, scheduling, making the calendar, for example,” she says.

Natasja works during the day as a management consultant. She always enjoyed dancing as a hobby and did Argentinian tango for several years. In May 2017, she performed on stage with PushPULL’s themed performance called “Fork in the Road,” which also featured the local musical group, The Peptides.

Kristin Stockwell, who’s been a member of the company for the past seven years, attended Ottawa’s Canterbury High School and went on  to study dance in Montreal, specializing in choreography. She currently works at the Ottawa Airport, training screening officers during the day – “very different from what I studied,” she explains. She enjoys the fact that dance is something she doesn’t have to do for money. “I do it for myself,” says Kristin.

Originally formed in Toronto in 2004, the company was brought to Ottawa by Abigail Tulloch in 2014.

Titania Woodfine is PushPULL Dance’s new Artistic Director for the 2017/2018 season.

The dance group welcomes adult dancers of any age, gender, culture or body type. Through the diversity of the members, the group is able to create shows that embody a variety of dance styles. There are different choreographers for different pieces, and when you put the groups together, it makes for an eclectic show.

The number of members varies every year – usually between 18 to 20 members – and the dancers get to know each other quite well.

PushPULL Dance is hosting a free workshop and audition for the coming 2017/18 season, and both these events take place at the Hintonburg Community Centre. The free workshop is September 10 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and auditions are scheduled September 17 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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