Stage Door News

Toronto: DanceWorks presents “Championess”, a combination of dance and boxing, November 16-18

Friday, September 29, 2023

DanceWorks is thrilled to announce the world premiere of SaMel Tanz’s CHAMPIONESS, a captivating performance that combines boxing, contemporary, street, and Latin dance to explore notions of identity and mental health. Presented November 16 - 18, 8 pm, at Harbourfront Centre Theatre, CHAMPIONESS is the first stage performance of DanceWorks’ 2023/24 season which has been programmed by the organization’s outgoing founding curator Mimi Beck.

Choreographed and performed by Sam Schleese and Mel Hart, CHAMPIONESS features a multi-generational cast including Lilly Giroux, Lauren Lyn, Renee Smith, and Irma Villafuerte. This extraordinary production reflects on the power of solidarity amongst women as they face fears and navigate life-changing experiences. CHAMPIONESS reminds audiences that the most personal adversities can be celebrated as achievements, challenging society’s perceptions of winners and losers.

“It takes resilience and tenacity to live through a pandemic and create a project when dance was deemed unessential. It’s fueled us to push the boundaries of dance, sharing our personal stories in new ways with boxing and multiple dance forms. It’s strengthened our belief that dance satisfies the soul and we are champions of our own lives.” - Sam Schleese, and Mel Hart, SaMel Tanz

SaMel Tanz is a Toronto based contemporary dance collective that was established in 2015. Sam Schleese and Mel Hart, both versatile and experienced dance artists, founded SaMel Tanz to share stories through a unique fusion of Euro-American Contemporary movement and techniques with Street and Latin influences. Their full-length works address crucial social issues that are relevant to current times and society at large such as identity, women empowerment and mental health, with hopes to motivate audiences to start conversations in their own communities.

Sam Schleese’s versatility is evident through her craft as a performer and instructor. She has achieved a BFA from York University, Canada, and a Masters in Dance from University of Chichester, England. Sam is also a part of DEUCEnDIP, an all female Hip Hop crew who has recently celebrated their ten-year anniversary. With the crew, Sam has danced for events such as Pride, Unity and Canada’s Walk of Fame Festivals, WE DAY, Bazaar and TeenzFav Music Awards and much more. Sam is a sought after dance adjudicator and loves to connect and share with the next generation of dancers.

Mel Hart is an established dance artist from Scarborough, Ontario with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance from York University. With over a decade of experience as a competitive figure skater paralleled with her education in Classical Ballet and western Contemporary dance, and passion for Street and Latin dance styles, she has a widened vocabulary and brings a unique perspective to the stage. Mel is a member of Hip Hop Dance Crew DEUCEnDIP, creating and performing for international concerts such as WE DAY, Canada’s Walk of Fame and World Pride. Mel is also well-versed in Salsa, Bachata, Argentine Tango and Samba dance styles, performing for The Pan Am Games and opening for International Latin artists such as Bad Bunny, Prince Royce and Gente de Zona. Working across Canada, Mel is a passionate Arts Educator, providing safe environments for students of all ages and abilities to explore the art of dance, discovering new ways for creativity and self-expression.


Performances run: Thursday November 16 - Saturday November 18, 8 pm, Harbourfront Centre Theatre, 231 Queens Quay W, Toronto, Ontario - 60 min.

Tickets: $15 - 30, (416) 973-4000.