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Porch View Dances

Aug 31, 2016

"One day as I peered out the front window of our home, my curiosity swelled. I began wondering what was happening behind closed doors across the street. Imagining the possibilities through dance as I always do, I envisioned the stories of its inhabitants flowing out onto the fron porches of their homes. I thought about the pulse that lies within the home and how dance could bring a distict vitality to reflect the unique intricacies and voices of a family or its inhabitants through the aesthetics of our incredible choreographers." Karen Kaeja, Co-Artistic Director. 

Porch View Dances (PVD) was designed to celebrate the stories of neighbourhood residents and to bridge the gap between professional art and everyday people. Taking dance out of the theatre and into our daily lives, Porch View Dances engages real people, in real spaces, making dance accessible to the families who perform in it, as well as the audience members who come watch. It is in this way that PVD sends the strong and powerful message that art is for everyone. 

Perhaps more significantly, Porch View Dances provides an invaluable opportunity for people to connect with their families, friends and community in meaningful ways. Performing families and friends enjoy the precious chance to spend quality time together as they collaboratively work to create and perform their art. Audience members are given an opportunity to get to know their neighbours and community members, as they come together to witness the sharing of personal storeis through a unique and moving cultural experience. 

Name of the Project & Organization
Porch View Dances; Kaeja d'Dance
Theme/Setting - Where?
Porch View Dances tajes place in the Seaton Village neighbourhood in the Annex (located between Bathurst and Christie, from Bloor to Dupont) neighbourhood of Toronto. Since rolling out the project five years ago, we've also taken the concept to Ottawa's Westboro neighbourhood twice as part of the Canada Dance Festival, Kitchener amd new this past summer to downtown Moncton! 
Methodology/Process - How?
We are always thinking of ways to bridge the gap between professional art and the general public. 

PVD is an award-winning community dance festival that engages everyday people as creators, storytellers and performers - many of whom have never danced before. Audience members travel from house to house to see new dance works created with professional choreographers and performed by local families in the front yards, porches and driveways of their homes. 

This is now a beloved annual event in Seaton Village. We start in December with calls to artists, calls to families and community participants to begin in January and the deadline is in the middle of March. Meetings and workshops being in April and creation and rehearsals begin in May or June with final perfomances in the second week of Julty. It may seem like a long time but families and choreographers commit to a 20 hour rehearsal process. 


Communities Involved
Families/Households in Seaton Village
Genre/Art Form
We think what makes this work truly special is not only the quality of the work, but the quality of the experience. We're not just a flash mob in a train station or a personalized dance class ending in a recital. We don't teach you the dance, we teach you how to create dance. We give everyday people the tools to creatively share stories they may not have otherwise shared. 
By doing this, by facilitating the telling of personal stories, we've opened up the possibility for a moment of shared understanding. And this is the kind of experience people are hungry for. When you share your story with your neighbour, your community, with me, you break down barriers - this notion of our separateness - and create an opportunity for connection. 

Funders, community organizations and partners have responded and this has led the company to think about doing more community engagement work and how principles of engagement can even be incorporated into our main stage professional concerts. 

We have done verions of PVD from a small pop up costing $13,000 to upwards of $50,000. The project has also been a fantastic sponsorship property and allowed us to engage volunteer groups in large and public ways. 
Contact information
Kaeja d'Dance 

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