Porch View Dances

zeeBigBang attended the opening of the Porch View Dances by Kaeja d’Dance in the Seaton Village, Toronto. This unique community dance festival is performed by Seaton Village residents in their front yards and porches. The audience was taken on guided community tour to several houses to watch the performances.

from left to right: “Crutch” and “Volaré” by Kaeja d’Dance

Artistic directors and choregoraphers, Karen and Allen Kaeja said, “It is the first time that such a performance has taken place in Toronto and worldwide.” They were pleased that their innovative production attracted a “unexpected” huge audience.

Karen Kaeja’s inspiration for choreographing the Porch View Dances came from looking out her window.

“I started daydreaming. I was looking out the window and wondering what goes on in the house across the street. What is their story? If I stripped the layer of the facade off, what would I see? Then I thought it would be so interesting to speak that in dance and let that spill out from their front door out onto the porch for the neighbors and the community and passersby to see,” said Karen Kaeja. Who then wondered, “if you throw professional choreographers together with complete non-dancers from one house you can get something.”

from left to right: “A Wink o’Kerrs” and “Volaré” by Kaeja d’Dance

“The project developed into hiring choreographers who had the capacity to bring something out of the public. That was the inner story. That to me is important,” said Kaeja. For her, dancing “is my connection to the world. I mean I’m much more comfortable communicating in movements than speaking; so that’s from my inner place.”

Allen and Karen Kaeja by Cylla von Tiedemann

After 21 years in business, Kaeja knows it takes time to set up such a dance project. It took almost two years from the idea to collecting enough funding to produce Porch View Dances. They selected the participants a year ago, had town hall meetings to inform the community and conducted lots of workshops between January and showtime.

“The people that did choose to participate were really into it. And now, people are coming up to us and asking, ‘Are you doing this again, can I be part of it?’” said Kaeja. “People need to witness what you are doing.”

Porch View Dances runs until July 22 and is “pay what you can”. Another community dance festival will be held in the Jane/Finch community in Toronto on August 25.

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