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DAINA ASHBEE

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My choreography is an investigation of the body in order to address the subconscious. The art of dance brings me closer to my own body and to the awareness of my own thoughts and processes. Articulating this awareness through choreography helps to uncover my connection to the environment, the earth and to my ancestors. In a society full of traps to confuse, numb and desensitize, my work uses and acknowledges the density and complexity of the human structure by exploring its innards, its thought processes, its energy and its capacity for life. By employing subtle energetic capacities of the body, I work with familiar states where humans can relate to a sense of being and of space and time. By tapping into the familiar energetic states, images and rituals, my choreography first unwinds, before it expands. I employ the extreme energetic capacities of the human where mind, body and voice transform through repetition and duration; insisting through time and therefore expanding our capacity to communicate through the language of movement. As an artist, I create art where living-body is what occupies and commands both space and attention. As a human-being, this work allows me to transform, exposing layers that couldn’t be expressed otherwise and doing so would have been dangerous in my previous life. Therefore I see my artistry as a gift and sharing my craft as both a privilege and an obligation. 

 

-Daina Ashbee, Vancouver 2011

 Artist, director and choreographer Daina Ashbee is based in Canada, born in Nanaimo, British Columbia and known for her radical works at the edge of dance and performance. At the age of 26, she had already won two awards for her choreographies. She was a double prizewinner at the Prix de la danse de Montréal, winning both the Prix du CALQ for Best Choreography of 2015-2016 for her choreographic installation When the Ice Melts, Will We Drink the Water?, and the Prix Découverte de la danse, for Unrelated (her first choreography). Daina was named by the prestigious German TANZ magazine as one of 30 promising artists for the year 2017 and named one of 25 to watch by the American publication, DANCE in 2018. In 2019, she won a New York Dance and Performance Award, Bessie, for Outstanding Choreographer. In 2021, at the age of 31, she had two separate Retrospectives of her performance artworks; one in Montpellier, France and the second in Montreal, Canada. In 2022 she became the recipient of The Clifford E. Lee Choreographer Award from The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Alberta, Canada.

Recognized as one of the most prolific choreographers of her generation, since 2015 her work has been presented over one-hundred times in 18 countries and over 40 different cities. Her work being presented in some of the most prestigious festivals (The Venice Biennale, Oktoberdans, the Munich Dance Biennale, Montpellier Danse) and on the stages of the world.

After residing for 8 years in the city of Montréal, in 2020 she relocated to Gabriola Island, British Columbia (unceded territory of Snuneymuxw Nation) where she re-sources her creative and energetic practices close to the rain forest on the west coast of Canada while she is not touring or creating abroad. Her work, firmly established in somatic and energetic practices, reinvestigates and transforms trauma and violence. Her repertoire has been recognized for being unafraid, bold and brutally honest. She has created a unique artistic signature that seizes a purpose far beyond dance and performance aesthetics.

 In 2021 Daina presented 5 of her original works at Montpellier Dance Festival: Unrelated (2014), Pour (2016), When the ice melts, will we drink the water? (2016), Serpentine (2017) and Laborious Song (2020) as a Daina Ashbee "FOCUS". Daina presented 4 of her original works at Usine-C titled <<Daina Ashbee Retrospective>> which featured Unrelated, Pour, When the ice melts, will we drink the water? and Laborious Song in October 2021. 

 

Daina’s newest creation titled Hello, Buffalo recently premiered in New York City; an 80-minute intimate piece solo performed by Imara Bosco. Also currently a work in progress: We learned a lot at our funeral which is choreographed on a breaking dancer and premiering in 2024 in Europe before the work is set to tour across Canada.

 

She is a teacher of movement, choreography and therapeutic practices. She has taught at the Venice Biennale College in Venice, Italy, as a guest at The University of Stavanger, Norway and at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia U.S.A. Daina presented her workshops at Nulty Bod/ZeroPoint Festival in Prague, in Guadalajara, Mexico, across Canada and especially in Montreal, Quebec., for the past 14 years. In 2022 she taught in Costa Rica, across Canada and in Norway.

Photo: Patrice Mathieu 2022

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