23 September 2011

Artmistice at the Commercial Theatre Institute

We were delighted to discover the Commercial Theater Institute earlier this spring. Based in New York and led by Program Director Jed Bernstein from Above the Title Entertainment, the CTI offers training, resources and guidance to commercial theater producers. It provides courses, seminars and workshops year-round given by first-rate producers such as Tom Viertel, Kevin McCollum and David Stone. The CTI does an outstanding job at selecting guest speakers who are relevant in the industry, informative and engaging.

To fuel our noggins in preparation for our new projects, Artmistice attended various intensive training sessions over the past few months. The CTI team, as well as fellow new generation producers, have been a tremendous source of support and information.

Anyone interested in show production projects and wanting to get a good grasp of the industry should really look into the Commercial Theater Institute. We’re glad we did!

23 September 2011

New website, new beginnings!

We are proud to introduce our brand new website! You can now seamlessly view photos and videos from past shows and events, read our blog, and connect to our Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr pages. We’d like to thank our amazing photographer, the great Cylla von Tiedemann and her assistant Vincent, as well as our beautiful dancers for the stunning photos that inspired our fresh new look. This is only the beginning of all the very exciting changes happening at Artmistice. Along with our new website, we are taking our talented and brave team in an innovative direction. After three years of bringing you successful corporate shows and events, Artmistice is venturing into its very own show production projects. To find out more, follow us on Twitter @artmistice.

23 September 2011

Thank You Nadège!

Artmistice would like to extend its sincere gratitude to company co-founder Nadège Maignan, for all her hard work and tireless dedication in nurturing this company in its fledging years to helping it grow into the success it is today. Along with Sonia Clarke, Nadège started Artmistice in 2008. In their two years working together, Sonia and Nadège were responsible for countless memorable events in and around Montreal, including the Michael Jackson Montreal Tribute. Nadège left Artmistice in June 2010 to pursue other endeavours. She will be missed and we wish her all the best in the future.

08 September 2011

Mission Impossible: Finding A Drop-In Class in Montreal

Recently, I’ve been asked by two dancers, one from Toronto and the other from Vancouver, to recommend dance studios where they could find good drop-in classes in contemporary dance. I told them to look into Studio Bizz, an establishment that had stood the test of time for decades at the same location, albeit under different names. However, other than that, I was at a loss. I recalled that one of the dancers at the photo shoot for our new website was complaining about the fact that her technique had deteriorated over the past couple of years since she moved to Montreal, due to the lack of open classes that fit her schedule. Like most dancers, when she is not working, she is teaching during standard class hours and therefore is not able to train on her downtime. Unfortunately, I have been hearing this for years now and by countless dancers in this city. I wondered how bad it could possibly be and so, like any curious cat…I turned to Google.   Knowing that an online search, unless specified, will turn up searches by geographic proximity, I was shocked when my search for “drop-in + dance” turned up pages and pages of dance studios offering just that...in Toronto. Add in “Montreal” to the search words and the top result is a paid-for ad by a studio offering mainly session-based classes and only 2 open classes in dance fitness. The second was a blog entry asking readers to help the writer find contemporary drop-in classes, dating back to 2008. Trying multiple variations in both English and French were equally unsuccessful; a plethora of unrelated Kijiji ads, Youtube videos, and even pole dancing lessons popped up. The only relevant results were mostly beginner courses for adults looking to get fit and try something new.   Granted, we can’t compete with Toronto. After all, at 6 million inhabitants, the population of the Greater Toronto Area nearly doubles that of Montreal's 3.8 million. But seeing that we are the second largest Canadian metropolitan city, I wanted to know what the industry landscape was like in other major cities across the country. The results of my search ended with a bittersweet discovery; Vancouver and Calgary, with populations of 2.3 million and 1.2 million respectively, each had a wide selection of open classes in various styles and levels. Thus, there is no direct correlation between population size and access to training. Surely Montreal doesn't have less dancers than then any of these other cities, so what's going on?   I proceeded to conduct an informal survey among other dancers and teachers in Montreal to find that we, as a dance community, have serious misconceptions on the matter. For one, many brought up that we’re not as “big” as those other cities. To that, I say that the numbers speak for themselves. Secondly, those who teach tell me that there simply isn't enough demand for drop-in classes. If I added up all the dancers who have complained to me about not finding any good drop-ins, I could fill entire studios. Furthermore, there is a confirmed minimum of 110 dance schools in and around Montreal. Many of their students face the same problem: once they go off to college or university, their schedules can no longer accommodate session-based classes. Through my many years of teaching, I’ve seen hundreds of promising and talented students stop dancing in their post-secondary years due to the lack of access to open classes.   Sadly, the issue here is much bigger than dancers complaining about a lack of drop-ins. I think the real problem is that, with limited access to good quality training, great Montreal dancers are not realizing their full potential. With stagnating progress, interesting work is simply not coming our way and inevitably, our best and brightest are leaving the city. Since the 90’s a lot of companies, such as cruise ships and Canada’s Wonderland, who used to travel to Montreal to cast dancers in their shows no longer make the trip, opting to hold their auditions exclusively in Toronto. Our output as a dance community is weakening as other cities surpass us in terms of resources and opportunities. It’s a vicious cycle.   Now, I know that some of you reading this do offer open classes. Through the magic of Facebook, I can find out who is teaching where and, yes, some of these classes are drop-ins. The only massive problem is I have to know you to find your class. The little quality open classes we have around this city are also difficult to find due to the fact that, unlike Toronto, Vancouver, or Calgary, the studios you are renting your space from are not doing enough to market themselves or your offering. Studio Bizz should have been the first result to pop up during my Google search, followed by the studios where you are teaching. Unfortunately, in this day and age, if you don’t come up within the first few pages of a Google search, you simply don’t exist!   So to all of you who are teaching these clandestine, underground drop-ins, I call on YOU to help us rectify this problem. If you offer a drop-in class or want to start offering one, whether you are in or around Montreal, we will publicize your class on our Facebook page and make this information available to schools everywhere in the city. Simply send us the name and address of the studio where you teach, the city, website, and drop-in styles available.   Let’s put Montreal back on the map with a strong, capable, and sustainable dance community.   And of course, make sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!