Meet the incredible talent comprising our Performance Series!
Dance Series curated by Samantha Ketsa
Sage Theatre and Springboard Performance have partnered to enhance opportunities for emerging artists and curators in the Calgary community. Under the mentorship of Nicole Mion, this year’s Dance Series at Ignite has been curated by Samantha Ketsa. Samantha holds a BFA in Dance with distinction from the University of Calgary, where she has worked with artists including W&M Physical Theatre, Peggy Baker, Deanne Walsh, and Gerry Trentham. The core of Samantha’s practice integrates inter-arts dialogue and somatic approaches to choreography. She works primarily with artistic partner Emily Sunderland on projects including #JustGirlyThings and Hands Touch Skin. She has also recently contributed to artistic research initiated by Matthew Hall, Kloetzel&co, and Linnea Swan for Dancers’ Studio West.
“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
Choreographer – Abby Scott
Abby Scott is a movement artist born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. Scott graduated with a B.A. in Dance, with a concentration in Choreography and Performance, from the University of Calgary. She is excited to be a part of the growing arts scene in Calgary, and now delving into the arts in other Canadian cities. Scott’s passion falls heavily into choreography, as movement composition has so many different approaches and expressions of a single idea. Scott has done works such as: A Double Cushion, for Dance Montage, Please Turn your Eyes and See Me, for Alberta Dance Festival, as well as done several works for Esira Dance Company. Scott is one of the Co- Founders and Artistic Directors of Calgary based company, Esira.
Dancer – Jessalyn Britton
Jessalyn Britton has had a life long passion for dance. She is involved in
many areas of the Calgary dance community including performing, choreographing, teaching, directing and producing. She holds a B.A. in Contemporary Dance with distinction from the University of Calgary. Post-graduation, Jessalyn danced with Decidedly Jazz Danceworks Professional Training Program for three seasons. She has worked with dance theatre company kloetzel&co and was a company member and company manager for Corps Bara Dance Theatre. Jessalyn was co-Artistic Director and producer of CrossCurrents Dance Productions which produced three full length contemporary dance shows. She is currently co-Artistic Director of ESIRA Dance and Alberta Dance Theatre for Young People.
Everything, Nothing is a seminal dance work that was first performed as a solo in Triple Bill Weekends in April 2019, taking its cue from Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. The dance piece analyses the way material objects attract our attention and call us in, enabling us to respond, interact and connect to inanimate objects. Considering instances such as window shopping, hoarding, and littering, the piece disrupts the perception of “it” and “things” as separate from and irrelevant to “us” and “beings.” Everything, Nothing encourages a collective questioning of habitual thinking by embracing, not only how you move objects but how objects move you.
Choreographer – Cindy Ansah
Born and raised in Toronto, Cindy Ansah’s affinity for dance and the performing arts was reignited upon moving to Calgary in 2011 following a dance hiatus of over five years. After immersing herself in various dance, music, drama and musical theatre programs, Ansah decided to pursue dance professionally at the age of fifteen and has recently completed her fourth year of the BFA in Dance program at the University of Calgary School of Creative and Performing Arts. Ansah has trained in various dance styles including Contemporary, Modern, Jazz, Urban, and Soca with a particular interest in West African dance for the way in which the dance form allows her to connect with her culture. Ansah additionally endeavors to expand her passion for her artistic practice by collaborating with other performing arts disciplines.
Dancer – Lauren Brady
Lauren Brady grew up in Calgary and is excited to be appearing in the Ignite Dance Series Festival again after debuting in the festival last year with choreographer Sean Def’s piece “filter”. Lauren grew up as a completive dancer across disciplines but fell in love with the art when training in modern and contemporary. Lauren trained at the University of Calgary in Drama during 2017/2018 and appeared in many productions including, Dance Montage, Conduct, and Woyzeck. Lauren is currently training at the University of Alberta BFA Acting program to further her development as an emerging artist. Lauren has most recently appeared in Calgary in the Common Ground Festival this year in “A Dragony Tale”.
Obsession with perfection. Why and how do imperfect creatures strive for the unattainable? What trials and tribulations do humans put themselves through in order to achieve this standard? IMPERFECT PERFECTION explores image; the juxtaposition between inward and outward perfection – being perfect vs appearing perfect. Is perfection a façade?
Choreographer / Dancer – Sasha Wilde
Sasha Wilde is a dance artist passionate about performance, choreography and teaching. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Dance from The School of Contemporary Dancers in affiliation with The University of Winnipeg (2017). She also broadened her dance studies with Decidedly Jazz Danceworks’ Professional Training Program. Sasha’s professional performance credits include: Young Lungs Dance Exchange, Odette Heyn Projects with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, GPS Dance Collective’s Mexican tour: Creando Lazos a Través de la Danza, NAfro Dance Productions, Dancers’ Studio West Dance Action Lab: Musculus Mundi. Sasha is excited to be presenting her self-choreographed and performed solo Imperfect Perfection at Edmonton’s NextFest Festival of Emerging Artists and Calgary’s IGNITE! Festival of Emerging Artists, in June 2019.
Stripped focuses on the physical and psychological impacts overuse, oversexualization and improper training can have on youth populations. Utilizing text, humour, and pop culture references, Sarah Mitchell shares her research and lived experience with the harmful aftereffects of competitive dance pedagogy.
Choreographer – Sarah Mitchell
Sarah Mitchell recently graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in Dance. Her most recent piece prior to the Ignite! Festival was choreographed after a year-long exploration in her final year of her degree titled Influenced. Over the last four years at the University, Sarah has had the pleasure to dance for Kloetzel & Co, Forcier Stage Works, W&M Physical Theatre and Heather Ware. Sarah is most interested in the research of private dance studios that utilize competition and the importance of proper pedagogical training for young dancers. Her personal experience with the competitive dance sector inspired Stripped for this year’s Ignite! Festival.
Dancer – Samantha Ketsa
Samantha Ketsa is thrilled to be supporting Sarah Mitchell’s work as an interpreter, in addition to curating the Dance Series under the mentorship of Nicole Mion. Samanta’s practice integrates inter-arts dialogue and somatic practices in devised physical theatre contexts. Samantha holds a BFA in Dance with distinction from the University of Calgary, where she has worked with artists including W&M Physical Theatre, Peggy Baker, Deanne Walsh, and Gerry Trentham. The core of Samantha’s work is collaboration primarily with artistic partner Emily Sunderland. She has recently contributed to projects initiated by Matthew Hall, Kloetzel&co, and Linnea Swan for Dancers’ Studio West. Samantha is energized by constant discoveries about her potential to shape and engage with the Canadian arts landscape as an independent artist.
Dancer – Alissa Lee
Originally from Winnipeg MB, Alissa moved to Calgary for her combined degree in Dance + Kinesiology. She has trained in various styles of dance including ballet, jazz, tap, musical theater, contemporary, modern, urban funk, and hip hop. Although she has trained in all styles, Alissa took a special interest in hip hop dance and successfully auditioned for BOSS dance team and IllFX Education, which are both competitive hip hop crews. Alissa has worked with artists such as Tara Wilson, Romeo Suban, Edgar Gilbert-Reyes, Genie Baffoe, and many more. Prior to Ignite! Festival, she had the pleasure of dancing in Sarah Mitchell and Megan Koch’s contemporary works at the University of Calgary. Alissa is excited to share the stage yet again with her talented role models in Stripped.
Dancer – Megan Koch
Megan Koch is a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Calgary. Throughout her training at the university she has trained under various artists such as; Tania Alvarado, Melissa Monteros, Michele Moss, Heather Ware, and many others. Her field of interest within her degree was choreography and performance. Her choreography explores authentic embodied movement and she enjoys working with a small intimate group of dancers. As far as performance goes, Megan has performed in many contemporary dance works both within and outside of the university. Her main interest is performing in interdisciplinary works. She has had the privilege of working under Samantha Ketsa and Emily Sunderland. Megan will be performing in Stripped choreographed by Sarah Mitchell in this year’s Ignite Festival.
Tunnel Vision explores the notion of being stuck in a continuous loop on the thoughts that haunt us in the back of our minds. “I remained so much inside my head and ended up losing my mind” – Edgar Allen Poe.
Choreographer / Dancer – Elizabeth Ferns
Ferns is thrilled to be performing her solo piece Tunnel Vision for the Dance Series of IGNITE! Festival of Emerging Artists. While completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance degree from the University of Calgary, she was able to work with and perform for esteemed choreographers such as Gerry Trentham, Davida Monk, and Melissa Monteros. During this time, she also found a true passion in composition. Since graduating in June of 2018, she has been establishing herself as an emerging artist in the Calgary dance community. Most recently, Ferns has been working on and performing #JustGirlyThings, a physical theatre piece directed by Samantha Ketsa and Emily Sunderland, as well as Tunnel Vision, a solo created and performed by Ferns, herself.
Ambassador of Happiness
Performer – Kristy Benz
Theatre artist Kristy Benz has trained at Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre, the Manitoulin Conservatory for Creation and Performance, Second City Toronto, and the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Her work encompasses clown, movement, visual art, curiosity, philosophy, and the constant battle between fear and courage.
Performer – Victoria Banner
Victoria Banner is a stand-up comedian/ writer from Calgary. She has appeared at international stand-up comedy festivals and nationally recognized events. She is substantially less nationally recognized for improv, music, visual art, longboarding and local event producing but still enjoys them. Mental health advocate.
Performer – James Avramenko
James Avramenko is a Saskatoon-based actor, director and poet. Originally from Calgary, he moved to B.C. to study Applied Theatre at the University of Victoria, where he graduated with a BFA. He then spent the next several years in Vancouver where he met his wife. They have since been making their way slowly east across Canada with the goal of taking over every major theatre company along the way. Recent theatre credits include Jasper in The Aliens (Persephone), Pete in Debts (Itsazoo), and as a recurring host/cast member of the Atomic Vaudeville Cabaret. He received his first directing credit this year with Goodbye, My Fancy (Persephone)
Performer – Jacqueline Huskisson
Jacqueline holds a B.F.A in Print Media from the Alberta University for the Arts and an M.F.A in Interdisciplinary Studies from the Belfast School of Art. She has recently had solo exhibitions at Main Space Gallery (Alberta Printmakers, Calgary), and Poolside Gallery (VideoPool, Winnipeg). She has also been doing various projects, installations, residencies and performances around Canada, Northern Ireland and Finland. She is the recipient of various local and national grants and was the inaugural receipt of the Scott Leroux Media Arts Exploration Fund. She is currently on VideoPool’s Media Art Distribution list and works out of Burnt Toast Studio in Calgary.
Performer – Audrey Lane Cockett
Audrey Lane Cockett is a spoken word poet, organizer, soundscape artist, and outdoor educator based in Treaty 7 land, Calgary AB. Her work is rooted in wild, both outside and in. She is a passionate advocate for mental health awareness, love, and care for the natural world. She is invested in exploring artistic fusion, community, learning, healing, and transformation.
Performer – Tonja Bokkel
Tonja Bokkel is a multidisciplinary performance artist. She spends her time writing, singing, dancing and acting in any medium that presents itself to her. Tonja is a graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts and hopes to record her original songs very soon. She is so excited to be performing in the IGNITE! Festival and hopes the audience can connect to the collaborative piece she and Audrey Lane have poured their hearts in to.
A duo of female improvisers creating a mono-scene from suggestions given by the audience using an app from our phone.
Performer / Producer – Jessica Belbin
Stumbling upon The Kinkonauts Improv Laboratory in 2007 Jessica instantly joined in and has now been performing long form improv for eleven years. Along with being an actor, stand-up comedian, voice over actor, improv facilitator and former radio personality, Jessica is writing a one-woman show. Her love of improv comes from the joy of diving into the unknown which is just like life: exciting, scary and where nobody knows what’s going on.
Performer – Natalie Johnstone
After attending Rosebud School of the Arts Natalie discovered improv with the Kinkonauts in Calgary after 3 years of performing and working with different troupes she is excited to work with Jessica Belbin in their improv duo Push Button. Along with improv Natalie performs stand up comedy in Calgary and surrounding areas and hosts the more Morning show on Strathmore AB’s new radio station 104.5 More Country.
The Rovers will be presenting a long form improvised format, Poetry Night. The night will be filled with improvised poems and improvised scenes inspired by those poems, as the Rovers take you on a journey sure to entertain.
Performer – Andrew G. Cooper
Andrew G. Cooper is a queer Canadian director, playwright, and actor. He holds his Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts from Thompson Rivers University and is the recipient of the Kamloops Mayor’s Emerging Artist Award. He won two awards for Outstanding Choreography for his work in Musical Theatre with the Academy of Dance and is the founding Artistic Managing Director of Chimera Theatre in Kamloops, BC and the founding Artistic Producer of Jupiter Theatre in Calgary, AB. As a director and theatre artist, Andrew’s focus is on the creation of new works with a particular focus on interdisciplinary art and storytelling through non-verbal mediums such as movement, puppetry, mask, and stage combat. As a playwright, his work has been performed across Canada and also in Sydney, Australia. Andrew is a lover of astronomy and animals and lives in Calgary, AB. He also does improv from time to time.
Performer – Christian Daly
Born and raised here in Calgary, Christian is local artist, currently studying Drama at the University of Calgary. He has been improvising for around 5 years now, and is currently a member of the U of C Improv Club. In addition to his dramatic pursuits, Christian enjoys playing music on his trumpet and bass, and likes watching the world’s best sport, NASCAR. Christian has a lot of fun being onstage, and hopes the festival is as fun to watch as it is to participate in.
Performer – Ibrahim Oshodi
I mainly deal with chemicals, not headshots and bios so this is a first for me.
I also dabble in Improv, which hopefully means you’ll enjoy seeing me talk my head off about all my random and joyous thoughts as much as I enjoy talking about them.
We do so hope you enjoy scary stories, because the Lovecraft Twins adore them more than—dare we say it?—life itself. Lock yourself in a crypt-dark room and hear never-before-told tales of the macabre, the twisted, and the supernatural. No one has ever heard these stories before, but you will never forget them.
Performer – Ellie Stewart
Ellie has been improvising scary stories ever since she realized she could freak her little sister out by doing it. She fell in love with improv while in high school when she competed in the Canadian Improv Games, and has been playing with The Kinkonauts for two years! You can also find her at NUTV at the U of C, writing and directing content for their YouTube channel. She is excited to freak her sister out at this year’s Ignite Festival!
Performer – Jeff Kubik
Jeff Kubik is a Calgary-based improviser. His stage plays have been produced across Canada, he’s performed as a professional standup across the same, and his sketch troupe, Kaboom Hooray, has performed at the Toronto and Vancouver Sketch Comedy Festivals.