SCA News

Posted on 30 Jul 2015 in

- SCA Students perform free summer musical for kids

The performance tells a story of broken shoes and finding joy beyond grief

Four SFU students are performing free outdoor children’s theatre in the Lower Mainland this summer.

By Ally Baharoon and Melissa Roach
Courtsey of The Peak

Funded by a grant from the Government of Canada, the production is presented annually by the Burnaby Arts Council, whose panel selects a new group of SFU performing arts students for a new show every year. The production currently runs at least four days per week until August 13 in venues across the lower mainland.

Chris Blaber, Joel MacKenzie, Maria Romero, and Dominique Wakeland joined forces to write, direct, and perform the 2015 Burnaby Summer Theatre production called Tavey the Barefoot Knight.

All four members are students in SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts, Wakeland in theatre performance, the others in music. To apply, the group put together a five minute skit of the play, with a synopsis of the entire story, and competed against one other applying group.

The group’s rehearsals started early June, and the group had five weeks to get the show running. Since their first performance on July 9, the group has had positive feedback. “We’ve had a lot of great reactions from kids. They seem to have a lot of fun when we’re performing,” said MacKenzie, who plays one of the narrators in the story.

MacKenzie says the group has gone through some self-discoveries while staging the play, and “are learning how talk to each other as creative people with different ideas, strengths, and weaknesses, and how to make sure our voices are heard.”

It’s not just for kids, stressed MacKenzie. “If you’re interested in children’s theatre, if you like free things, if you want to talk to fellow students pursuing our passions, or if you just want to see four adults act like goofy kids on stage, you should come see the play.”

Posted on 15 Jul 2015 in

- Celebrating SFU’s 50th Anniversary

Two Research Assistant positions available

We are happy to announce that there are two $5,000 Research Assistant positions available to SCA alumni, undergraduate and graduate students.

The duration of the positions is from August 2015 to March 2016. 

The project is to coordinate and facilitate Open Showings for the School for the Contemporary Arts 50th Anniversary celebration. On the last Monday evening of each month, beginning September 28th, we want to invite alumni and current students to participate in Open Showings (working title) at the Interurban Gallery. Informal presentations encompassing all of the disciplines within the School for the Contemporary Arts are to be encouraged. The project involves reaching out to SCA alumni and current students, to make them aware of this opportunity, and to coordinate and facilitate the monthly presentations. Each position is for 200 hours beginning August 15, 2015 and ending March 31, 2016, with reimbursement of $22.32 per hour, plus 12% benefits.

If you are interested in applying, please send a letter outlining your interest and experience to Elspeth Pratt, Director, School for the Contemporary Arts c/o Samantha Diamond,, by July 31, 2015.

The positions will begin August 15 with supervision by Marla Eist and Steven Hill.

Posted on 06 Jul 2015 in

- SCA grad Sara Coffin returns west for Dancing on the Edge festival

Photo: Michelle Doucette 

We're thrilled that SCA alum Sara Coffin is presenting at Dancing on the Edge Festival this week at the Firehall. Her work Body Abandoned is part of the Edge 4 program with two performances on July 8 & 10.

Sara graduated from SCA is 2003, she's based in Halifax and is the artistic associate of Mocean Dance. She has cultivated her professional career in Vancouver, BC, Halifax, NS, and Northampton, MA where she completed her MFA in Choreography at Smith College (2014). Sara additionally holds a BSc. in Kinesiology (Dalhousie, 2004). 

She has worked professionally with many collaborators and art makers from across the Canada and south of the border, and she is a co-founder of SiNS (Sometimes in Nova Scotia) dance collective. An award winning choreographer, her choreographic work has been presented in many prominent dance festivals, commissioned by Mocean Dance (2014), and her 2011 self-produced work Taking Your Experience for Mine was been described by the press as “hauntingly gorgeous.”


Based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Mocean Dance creates and performs athletic, vibrant contemporary dance. Led by Artistic Director Susanne Chui and Artistic Associate Sara Coffin, this versatile creation company commissions Canadian choreographers and its company members to create dance that is highly physical, collaborative, and technically and emotionally rich. Founded in 2001 by Carolle Crooks Fernando, Sarah Rozee, Sara Harrigan, Alicia Orr MacDonald, and Lisa Phinney Langley, Mocean Dance is nationally recognized as a leading company from the Atlantic region. A resident company of Halifax Dance since 2002, Mocean is committed to its home base in Nova Scotia, contributing to the province’s dance and arts community by providing opportunities for creation, performance, collaboration, development and education. 

Please tell us a bit about your company Mocean Dance in Halifax?
Mocean Dance is nationally recognized as Atlantic Canada’s leading contemporary dance company and is also the only dance company east of Montreal that produces a whole season of work. Established in 2001, it serves as the region’s flagship company for contemporary dance. We create, produce, and tour work that is commissioned from Canadian choreographers or we produced work by our regional artists and/or company members. Our projects are very wide and flexible; we create work for the traditional proscenium stage, but we also create interdisciplinary site-specific and durational/installation-based work.

In our recent adventures, in May we premiered our new ensemble work Sable Island by Serge Bennathan and in early June we toured to Ottawa to create two new site-specific works for the Canada Dance Festival’s Porch View Dances with Kaeja d’Dance.  

Next season, we will be working with Emily Gaultieri from Parts and Labour Danse and we will travel to NYC to work with Rebecca Lazier in an international cast of performers to premiere Lazier’s new work There Might be Others at New York Live Arts.

You are presenting at Dancing on the Edge a work called Body Abandoned. What is the piece about?
Body Abandoned explores disembodied in the digital age and at its essence is a eulogy for our corporeal selves. The piece postulates the effects of reaching beyond the borders of the skin when one lives in the perpetual in-between spaces of digital culture.

Interestingly, Body Abandoned piece is also my master thesis work that I created in 2014 as part of my MFA in Choreography requirements at Smith College in Northampton, MA. For this project, I partnered with Smith College and Mocean Dance to join together my professional work and academia studies while I completed my MFA and taught for two years as adjunct faculty in the Five College Dance Consortium.

SFU alumni, sound artist Phil Thomson did the sound editing and composed some of the music for Body Abandoned and SIAT Lecturer Andrew Hawryshkewich travelled to Halifax (and worked remotely with me) to create the media design for the piece.

You finished your degree at SCA over 10 years ago. Do you still keep in contact with fellow students in the program?
Very much so, the friends and collaborative foundations that I established while at SFU are still very strong markers in my creative path and continue to be so even when living on the other side of the country. I collaborate regularly with composer/sound artist Phil Thomson and he has created the bulk of the music for all my dance work. Phil and I first meet in 2003 in David MacIntyre’s collaborations course, FPA 485 and have been working together ever since.

Of course my dance colleagues and I still stay in close contact, work closely together and continue our dialogue of dance making that was initially ignited through the SFU dance program.

Did your experience as a student at SCA lead you to the work you are doing now?
My reflex for creative collaborations, dialogue and exchange, and creating community was certainly ignited while attending SFU. In my fourth year, Samara Aster and I established ChoreoLab with some seed funding from Student Services and here I am 12 years later offering CLEaR Forum- Choreographic Lab, Exploration and Research with Mocean Dance, a one-week residency-based choreographic lab open to regional and nationally-based dance makers. Check it out on our website, we hire dancers and choreographers annually for this amazing residency (in May) and is the perfect excuse to get east!

What are you up to after Dancing on the Edge?
After Dancing on the Edge I am visiting my dear friends and will be soaking in the West Coast while I am town. When I get back to Halifax, Mocean Dance is upgrading our offices and I will be unpacking boxes and setting up our new digs at 1313 Hollis! We will be finishing up our final planning for our 2015-2016 season, which includes a new creation by myself for our January 2016 mainstage show - so my initial research phase will get underway.