Classes & Instructors

The following page introduces you to the amazingly talented instructors for KDT SI 2016. Whether international guest artists or Toronto-based artists, each instructor brings to the Summer Intensive a different movement language, artistic vision, and mode of creativity and expression that collectively enhance the richness and uniqueness of the KDT SI training program. It is our hope that they will challenge and inspire you as you define or re-define your artistic practice.


Santee Smith (Tekaronhiáhkhwa)


Santee SmithSantee is a mother, performer, an award-winning producer and choreographer. She is from the Kahnyen’kehàka Nation, Turtle Clan from Six Nations, Ontario. After recovering from two broken legs, committing to six years of formal dance training at Canada’s National Ballet School, completing Physical Education and Psychology degrees from McMaster University and theatre training, Santee returned to dance as a creator: a choreographer. In 1996 the opportunity to choreograph ignited her creative spirit, she continued to develop as an independent choreographer producing her first major work, Kaha:wi in 2004. Inspired by the birth of her daughter, Santee dedicated six years from initial spark of idea to the premiere production of Kaha:wi during which she also completed a MA in Dance at York University. As a result of this work and her desire to pursue and define a career in contemporary dance, Santee founded Kaha:wi Dance Theatre (KDT), a vehicle for her artistic voice in 2005. Santee is a recent recipient of a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Choreography in the Dance. Her artistic work speaks about identity and humanity.

Indigenous Contemporary:
Physically full-bodied and rigourous exercises that maximize awareness of body in time and space, in relationship to traditional Indigenous dance forms such an Onkwehon:we social dance and Powwow styles.

See CREATION LAB for class description.


Benoît Lachambre


Benoît LachambreEvolving in dance since the 1970s, Benoît Lachambre discovered improvisation and release technique in 1985. From them on, a kinetic exploration of movement impregnated his work in choreographic composition. He invested himself in an approach based on sense acuity where linking the artistic and the somatic became a necessity. In 1996, he founded his company Par B.L.eux, increasing dynamic meetings and exchanges and through which he created 15 pieces, some of which are Forgeries, Love and Other Matters and most recently, Snakeskins which was awarded the Grand Prix de la Danse de Montréal in 2013.

Transforming Notions of Presence:
Dance may be practiced as poetic action, and conscious stimulation, and creative dreaming. Benoît Lachambre does research on arousing the senses with support from weight and force. Through a radical pedagogical approach, he works with the body’s auto-direction centres. He invites participants to process and recognize the dynamics of interior and exterior movement, and enables a holistic understanding of the body and its environment. He works with participants’ alignment and imagination, inviting them to deepen and increase sensual acuity by becoming aware of the nature of gesture in a specific context, a living space. The goal is that of opening the mind while harmonizing stimulated internal spaces.


Alejandro Ronceria


alejo photo

Alejandro Ronceria is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning director, choreographer, producer based in Canada.  He has created and produced large-scale live events and cultural shows internationally, including the United States, Mexico, New Zealand, Germany and Colombia.

Alejandro’s artistic work includes: director/choreographer for Almalgama commission by the City of Toronto’s Pan Am Game; director / co-Producer of the Opening for the Aboriginal Pavilion Pan Am, Fort York; director/choreographer for My Hundred Years of Solitude (2014); co-director for the Dance of Resistance Nipissing (2014); co-director for the play Wiskaedjak (2013); director of the Northern Scene National Arts Centre (2013); Spirit of the Drum and the director for the Northern Scene National Arts Centre Opening Gala; director/co-producer for the AFN’s Opening Gala (2013); director/co-producer for the Artic Winter Games Opening Gala (2012); choreographer for the official opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, among others.

Ronceria is the co-founder/founding dance director of the 1st Aboriginal Dance Program in North America at The Banff Centre. The groundbreaking program brought together diverse Indigenous dance artists from Canada, the USA, Mexico and Greenland.  From 1996-2001, he served as the artistic director.  This program was the incubator for developing a new generation of choreographers working in Canada and abroad and served as a model for various schools for Indigenous dance internationally. One of the productions from the Banff program grew into Bones: The first Aboriginal Dance Opera (2001), in collaboration with Sadie Buck and choreographed by Ronceria.

In 2004, he was nominated for a Dora Mayor Award for Best Choreography for “The Art Show”. In 2010, Ronceria received a Masters Degree in Fine Arts from York University in Dance Dramaturgy.

See CREATION LAB for class description.


Louise Potiki Bryant


Louise Potiki-BryantLouise Potiki Bryant is a choreographer, dancer, and video artist of Kāi Tahu, Kāti Mamoe and Waitaha descent. In 2014 Louise was the Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance 2014 at the University of Otago, undertaking the Whakaahua: Coming to form Project. Also in 2014 Louise was awarded the Harriet Freidlander New York Residency by The Arts Foundation of New Zealand supporting her to live in New York City for a six-month period of creative inspiration. She will be undertaking the residency in 2016. Louise has choreographed for several New Zealand dance companies most notably for Atamira Dance Company, with whom she has created six works, including NGAI TAHU 32 (‘Best contemporary dance production 2004′, NZ Listener), TE AROHA ME TE MAMAE (‘Best New Choreographer 2003′, NZ Listener), TAONGA; dust water wind (‘Best Production’ ‘Best Music’ and ‘Best Scenography, the Tempo Dance Festival 2010) and recently the work-in-progress MANAIA. Louise has also choreographed dance works for companies such as Curve, Black Grace Dance Company, New Zealand Dance Company among others. Louise has a strong body of solo and collaborative works, which draw on her interdisciplinary practice, and her unique movement vocabulary and performance qualities such as her work KIRI which opened the TEMPO Dance festival 2014.

Louise has a Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts with a major in Contemporary Dance and a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Māori Studies. Her teaching experience has included positions at the University of Otago, University of Auckland, and Unitec School of Performing and Screen Arts, teaching courses in choreography, interdisciplinary practice, whakaahua dance practice, and video dance. Louise is also a certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher.

See CREATION LAB for class description.


Tony Duncan


Tony DuncanTony Duncan (Apache, Arikara/Hidatsa) has performed for audiences worldwide including performances at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The National Museum of the American Indian, The Billboard Music Awards, The Tonight Show, and The White House. Duncan has great achievements in both music and dance. As a flute player he is currently signed to the largest Native American music label, Canyon Records. He has released 9 albums to date, including his latest album titled “Singing Lights.” He has been awarded the prestigious award of, “Artist of the Year,” at the 2013 Native American Music Awards. Duncan has toured with acclaimed Native American artists such as R. Carlos Nakai and Joanne Shenandoah, as well as International Pop star Nelly Furtado. Duncan was the featured dancer on Nelly Furtado’s music video, “Big Hoops.” He has toured across Europe and Asia with Nelly Furtado and performed his hoop dancing as well as his flute playing for over 50,000 people in Paris, London, Tokyo, Manila, and the Island of Malta. As a hoop dancer Tony Duncan is among the best in the world, winning the title of “World Champion Hoop Dancer,” an amazing 5 times. Dancing to the heartbeat of mother earth and playing the ancient songs of the flute, Duncan captures the beauty and artistry of Native America.

Hoop Dance 101 with Tony Duncan:
Immerse yourself in the teachings of the Hoop Dance with 5-Time World Champion Hoop Dancer, Tony Duncan. From the excitement of spinning and jumping through hoops, to the powerful stories of creation, the hoop dance represents your own unique journey throughout life. The symbol of the hoop represents all of life. From the east as the sunrises, all of life begins. The sun climbs to the highest part of father sky. Then, to the west, the sun sets and grandmother moon watches over all of mother earth. Again, the sun rises to the east and begins the sacred cycle once more. The Hoop Dance celebrates the beauty that we call, Life. The animals, the insects, the earth, the wind, the rain, our families, and the mountains are all shown through the hoops. All of life is sacred and the Hoop Dance celebrates and honors the many wonders of life. After understanding the Hoop Dance and the meaning behind it, students will start movement training and choreographing an intensive Hoop team Dance. Each student is encouraged to express their individual strengths and personality through dance when learning the Hoop Dance.

Jesse Dell

Jesse Dell has worked as a contemporary dance artist for over a decade. Performing across Canada and the USA Jesse has had the privilege of working with Peggy Baker, Aria Evans, Julia Sasso, Holly Small, Kaha:wi Dance Theatre (KDT), The Canadian Opera Company and JDdance among others. With KDT Jesse has had the opportunity to teach youth across Turtle Island. Jesse has also taught master classes and workshops for The School of Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre, Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts and York University.

Floor Work Basics & Beyond: While exploring breath, weight, gravity, spiral, succession and opposition we will build safe and economical movement pathways that will minimize excess tension. Working to simultaneously achieve internal awareness and external presence we will practice being in our bodies and present in the room at the same time. Investigating the innate patterns and pathways of the human body while maintaining consciousness and presence this workshop takes a holistic approach to movement. Floor work can be challenging and sometimes dangerous but it can also be healthy and even healing.

Denise Fujiwara

Denise Fujiwara is a recipient of the Toronto Arts Foundation Award for International Achievement in Dance.  Her work as a dance artist has developed over 30 years of intensive practice, performance and study.  Her mentor in Butoh is Tokyo master, Natsu Nakajima.  Fujiwara practices a Butoh that cultivates curiosity, the imagination, awareness, presence and deeply embodied movement.  EUNOIA, her most recent work, was nominated for three Dora Awards.  She leads workshops and master classes across Canada and abroad.

Embodiment/Butoh: Dance-theatre classes to train the body and the imagination by working from vivid internal conditions expressed through intense physicality.  Using the modern Japanese dance form, Butoh, as a foundation we work to reveal the dance’s inner life of authenticity, depth and paradox, and to express one’s humanity in all of its irrationality, ugliness, beauty and mirth.

Ruth Douthwright


Ruth Douthwright

Ruth has been teaching Axis Syllabus both locally and internationally since 2004. Graduate from École de dane contemporaine de Montréal with parallel studies in Body Mind Centering & Continuum with Linda Rabin and voice with Ann Skinner. Continued studies at Laban UK, Min Tanaka – The Body Weather Farm and Noh Theatre – The Kyoto Arts Centre. Formative education in folk, sacred dance and storytelling. Ruth is a mother of 2 living in London, Ontario where she dances with Dasien Dance Theatre, Co Artistic Director of FLUX, LAIR Artist in Residence and Centre of Creativity board member. Performance highlights include: ABCDC compagnie Frey Faust touring Living River, Home in the Sky & Blind Faith: Tanzhaus (Dusseldorf), Moissac, 418 (Santa Cruz CA), Los Talleres (Mexico City), Tipping Point (Marseille), L’lnattendue Compagnie and choir Meli Melo (Brussels), The Patria Series with R. Murray Schafer and Dance Director of National Artist Program/Canada Summer Games in London. Ongoing research and performance projects Ecological Bodying – Kevin O’Conner and Billy Douthwright: Caboose, Confluence, re-storying and UNDERSTORIES.

Axis Syllabus: The Art of Falling
Finding flight in the state of off-balance and landing with grace and resilience.
By learning how to fall, we are disarming primal fears and generating potential abilities. Over the course of the week we will explore many of the ABS’s of Axis Syllabus such as: c stars – low level falling study practiced in the state of off-balance with the notion that to move is to fall. chronological architecture – Falling reflexes, fluid transitions and kinetic efficiency. side bending – consider fractals, curves and spirals. kinetic rhythm – inherent rhythm that inertia and momentum exert on the various masses of our bodies. We will work towards the cultivation of subtle articulation and a deep sensing spine. A spine which virtuously distributes and recycles kinetic impact through itself, into pelvis, periphery and space.

The Axis Syllabus is a collection of resources and ongoing research informing a healthy and updated experiential movement practice. Originated by Frey Faust, the Axis Syllabus is now sustained by a community of contributors committed to diligent practice and dialogue.



Nancy Wijohn


Nancy Photo
Nancy hails from Aotearoa (New Zealand). She is one of Aotearoa’s most renowned Maori contemporary dancers an in more recent years has been steadily making a name for herself as a choreographer and teacher. As well as having ballet and contemporary training she is also experienced in her own traditional dance of Haka (war dance) and Maori weaponary skills.
KDT Class Description | M&B Floor and partnering class
Nancy brings with her a Muscle & Bone inspired floor and partnering class. This class combines sport science training methods with dance partnering and contemporary dance floor techniques to create a unique and dynamic workout.
Six Nations Community Class | Whakatau Tinana
Nancy brings to you her class that incorporates her traditional dance, song and haha. Whakatau – meaning to Prepare, Tinana – meaning The body. Get the heart rate up with some contemporary and tradition dance forms as well as learning traditional Maori waiāta (songs) and Haka.

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KDT Summer Intensive Training 2016 Application


Through this series of lectures, dancers will be able to learn first-hand the history and evolution of specific Indigenous dance styles from our expert instructors. The same way that the physical training classes educate dancers on movements and steps, the lectures foster a deeper examination and understanding of the significance of Indigenous dance practice and culture. Insightful and in-depth, the lectures encourage questioning and discussion, enhancing the overall training experience.