South Vancouver dance group transforms students into professionals

Catalyst Dance members prepare for their upcoming production Chiaroscuro.


Reported by Rica Talay

Catalyst Dance, a South Vancouver dance group, is getting a leg up in their career with their upcoming production Chiaroscuro.

The show is produced by Dezza Dance as part of the Leg Up! Dance Project, an initiative to support emerging dancers.

The event will be held at Moberly Arts & Culture Centre on March 10 and 11.

Chiaroscuro showcases contemporary dance pieces and is accompanied by The End Tree, a Vancouver-based band. Dance routines choreographed by students are based on the theme of chiaroscuro, meaning a contrast of light.

“In visual art, [chiaroscuro] just means the light and the dark and the shading, so all the dances have this theme of exploring dark and light.” said Desirée Dunbar, the artistic director and founder of Catalyst.

A tight knit group

Catalyst Dance members Sophie Brassard, Carly Penner, Jenna Kraychy, creative director Desirée Dunbar, Kestrel Paton, and Brittany Angus. Submitted photo by David Cooper

Dunbar began Catalyst, a mentorship program within Dezza Dance, when she realized that young dancers didn’t know how to brand themselves while keeping up with their dance skills as upcoming professionals.

“Our initiative is to give young emerging dance artists the opportunity to perform and present their work and to show what they love to do and what they’re passionate about,” said Dunbar.

Kestrel Paton, a 19-year-old SFU dance student and member of Catalyst, said the best part of the program is the group of people who have created a safe space for her as she discovers herself through dance.

[It] is really nice to have, especially as you’re figuring out your dancing and who you want to be,” Paton said. “So you know that wherever you want to branch out to you’ll have these people to work with you as well.”

Sophie Brassard, another Catalyst member and SFU alumna who choreographed her own routine in the show, is also grateful for the tight-knit group.

“We’ll have a max of five or six people in a dance so you just get a lot of performance time and experience which you helps you grow really fast,” Brassard said.


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