Stage Door News

Toronto: Fall for Dance North unveils its live and digital festival September 29-October 18, 2020

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Fall for Dance North (FFDN) invites arts enthusiasts to immerse themselves in a newly envisioned, interactive celebration of its sixth anniversary edition: The Flip Side, from Sept. 29–Oct.18, 2020. FFDN will reinvent how audiences engage with dance, delivering a more personal view of the art form through unique performances and experiences. A new, Netflix-style digital platform will offer free programming, including a new podcast, original series, livestream performance, and interactive encounters, such as virtually enhanced social dancers brought to life through augmented reality (AR).

In a dazzling celebration of the indomitable spirit of dance artists, the festival will host a signature livestream presentation, in partnership with Harbourfront Centre, on Oct. 3 at 2pm from The Fleck Dance Theatre. The only ticketed festival program, this virtual event features six world premieres by a diverse range of emerging and acclaimed Canadian choreographers, blending live dance and music with surprise guests and pre-recorded presentations from Calgary and Amsterdam. The line-up includes original FFDN commissions by: Red Sky Performance Associate Artist Jera Wolfe; Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal principal dancer Vanesa Garcia-Ribala Montoya; contemporary dancemaker Joshua Beamish; Broadway tap star Lisa La Touche; South African-born gumboots dancer Mafa Makhubalo; and Decidedly Jazz Danceworks’ Artistic Director Kimberley Cooper.

“I am incredibly proud of the sixth edition of Fall for Dance North, titled The Flip Side, particularly in light of the collaborative efforts of more than 100 artists and our long-time co-presenters TO Live, that helped bring an entirely new vision of our festival to life. While we’re not able to gather in theatres this year, we believe the diversity and quality synonymous with FFDN is ever present,” says FFDN Artistic Director Ilter Ibrahimof. “As the world shut down this past spring due to COVID-19, my team and I were fortunate to have the time and space to develop a bold, interactive festival platform available not just to Torontonians, but to dance lovers worldwide. The Flip Side was expressly designed within a digital context to breathe innovative new life into the dance milieu during an unprecedented time of uncertainty. While we are eager to meet audiences live in theatres when safe to do so, we are also excited with how we can further build on our new digital offerings as an intrinsic framework for the future construct of FFDN.”

Audience members can engage with FFDN’s signature livestream presentation in one of two ways: $15 single tickets or a ‘Watch Party’ package. Designed to give bubbled family or friends an in-home festival experience, each $150 Watch Party package comes with a dedicated Virtual Host and care package, with playbills and festival swag. Watch Party packages are limited and the catalogue of virtual hosts feature diverse artists from Toronto and beyond, many of whom have a relationship with FFDN as past performers, partners, and ambassadors.

Fall for Dance North 2020 Festival Highlights:

2020 Signature Program, live streamed from The Fleck Dance Theatre

Oct. 3 at 2pm


Performance by Red Sky Performance, choreography by Jera Wolfe

World premiere

World-renowned, Tkaronto-based Indigenous company Red Sky Performance presents FLOW, a new work commissioned by FFDN with additional support from Neighbourhood Dance Works (St. John’s, NL). Led by Red Sky Artistic Director Sandra Laronde, this collaborative, multidisciplinary production features choreography by Red Sky Associate Artist Jera Wolfe and music by Chicago’s Third Coast Percussion. The work is inspired in part by Third Coast’s musical album Paddle to the Sea, which was itself created in response to the Canadian children’s book and National Film Board of Canada film of the same name.  

Poema Ibérico

Performance by Sonia Rodriguez with Piotr Stanczyk and Spencer Hack, choreography by Vanesa Garcia-Ribala Montoya

World premiere – with live music

A long-time star of The National Ballet of Canada, principal dancer Sonia Rodriguez celebrates 31 years with the company this year. This FFDN commission also honours her contribution as a founding board member of the festival. Rodriguez shares a connection to Spain with Choreographer Vanesa Garcia-Ribala Montoya, a principal dancer with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, where both artists grew up and completed their early dance training. In Poema Ibérico, Rodriguez shares the subtlety of her interpretive range, accompanied by fellow NBoC artists, principal dancer Piotr Stanczyk and first soloist Spencer Hack.

Dialogue with DNA
Performance and choreography by Mafa Makhubalo

World premiere – with live music

Dancing since his childhood in South Africa, Mafa Makhubalo has performed with numerous choreographers—in South Africa and Canada—and leads his own Toronto-based company, Mafa Dance Village. A versatile dancer, Makhubalo creates and performs in multiple styles including the percussive gumboot dance, as in this FFDN commission. Gumboot, in which the dancers wear thick-soled rubber boots, emerged as a form of communication among African workers in the inhumane gold mines of South Africa where they were forbidden to speak.



Performance by Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (DJD), choreography by Kimberley Cooper

World premiere – with live music

For Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, the magic is in the marriage between the dance and music. As guests in the form of jazz, which was born of Black American culture with roots in the African American experience, this Calgary-based company has been honouring the roots and history of this art since the company’s founding in 1984. Artistic Director and choreographer Kimberley Cooper dives deeply into the rhythms and syncopations of the music to craft her imaginative choreography. She builds each work as a unique world unto itself. 

Fool’s Gold

Performance by Lisa La Touche, Danny Nielsen and Laura Donaldson in collaboration with NYC-based bassist/composer Chris Morrissey, choreography by La Touche 

World premiere

Tap dance takes its place. Arising from a context of racism and oppression, tap has evolved as an expression of resilience and freedom. For this FFDN and Harbourfront Centre commission, Lisa La Touche embraces her art form anew in this moment. Recently returned to her hometown of Calgary, La Touche has worked with some of today’s tap greats, Savion Glover among them, and she has appeared on Broadway in the original, award-winning cast of Shuffle Along. Her own choreography showcases impeccable clarity and musicality.


Performance by Joshua Beamish and Rena Narumi, choreography by Beamish 

World premiere

Originally from Kelowna, British Columbia, Joshua Beamish directs his own MOVETHECOMPANY (with bases in both Vancouver and New York) and has created works for significant companies and artists around the world including The Royal Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada and New York City Ballet principal dancers Wendy Whelan and Ashley Bouder. Beamish claims the duet as his favourite form, here working with acclaimed dancer Rena Narumi who regularly performs with Crystal Pite/Kidd Pivot.

+ FREE Live and Digital Programming:

Open Studio

Catch a glimpse of dancers at work. Witness new choreography taking shape right before your eyes. Watch dancers in rehearsal from outside through glass, or from inside through livestream. Curated with Toronto-based artistic advisors Vivine Scarlett and Laura Nanni, this glass box studio reveals a spectrum of exciting Toronto artists and their latest explorations. Originally created as part of a long-standing partnership with Union Station, this year’s special edition of Open Studio moves down the street to TO Live’s MERIDIAN HALL West Lounge.



Harbourfront Centre's Natrel Pond will become a liquid dance floor for Argentine tango, balboa and vogue. Aim your device at the large image in the centre of the pond and dancers will appear before your eyes. Follow their movement as ambient audio transports you to a dance club, or a square in Buenos Aires. Long-time (bubbled) dance partners remind us of the power of touch and physical connection—in augmented reality. Originally created as part of a long-standing partnership with Union Station, this year's special edition of THE BIG SOCIAL moves down the street to Harbourfront Centre and transforms through AR.

Bathtub Bran

With the inimitable Bathtub Bran as host, beloved Toronto dance artists talk about their lives and the impact of COVID-19 on their projects. What were they working on? How are they adapting? Hear about their creations and watch video excerpts. Irreverent and off-the-wall, this series of six interviews offers a frank and fun introduction to these artists. One tub, two artists (yes, clothed!), some suds—and the ubiquitous Plexiglass COVID-safety shield—bring a dose of humour to the situation. FFDN reboots this original three-season web series started in 2014 by Toronto dance artist Bran Ramsey.

The Lost Objects (featuring actors from Second City)

While FFDN explores the flip side, the theatres, dressing rooms and studios normally inhabited during FFDN lie dormant. So many objects are just sitting, waiting. Do they know a festival is happening without them? Hear their voices and find out how they’re coping. Sit in on a group counselling session on FFDN’s new podcast series MAMBO, where they share their feelings (and reveal some inside drama!), as actors from Second City bring these objects to life.

Single tickets and Watch Party passes are now available at:

For complete 2020 festival programming, including all free festival offerings, click HERE.