Collective History

The wind in the leaves collective began in the spring of 2009 from a series of conversations between charles c. smith and several of the artists now in it. The collective engages in the choreographic creation of movement and poetic syncretism to develop and perform collaborative work involving diverse artistic disciplines. Our approach provides for a unique view into a dialogue amongst artists on contemporary issues where each collaborates, creates and shares, bringing her/his creativity to the collective’s work as an outlet for artistic exploration rarely seen in Toronto.

The collective’s inter-disciplinary approach allows for such engagement at several intersections, visceral, sensual, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. We are a group of artists using music, poetry, dance and various forms of visual art, e.g., photography, collage, moving images, offering several ways to engage artists from diverse backgrounds. In this way, we are a multi-textured tableau of the concerns of our times and how these are expressed through artistic mediums working collaboratively.

The collective connects to many individuals and communities in a multicultural, multiracial society and a global community. The themes we are working on echo of transnationalism, diaspora, globalization as well as the use of power and marginalization that results from it and wounds both individual and collective psyches. The artists involved see both the personal and historical connection to struggle, suffering, loss and hope whether in relationships within families or between dominant and subordinated communities historically and in our world today.

To date, parts of this project were presented at:

  • The Guelph Jazz Festival’s Colloquium Series 2010. Presentation with one dance (A Thousand Cranes) choreographed and performed by Kevin A. Ormsby;
  • Lab Cab’s 2010 festival at Factory Theatre. Presentation with the following performance pieces: Live IV (Kevin A. Ormsby dancer/choreographer and Miranda Liverpool dancer); A Thousand Cranes (as above); Cantus (Olga Barrios and Kevin Ormsby choreographers, and, Kevin A. Ormsby and Miranda Liverpool dancers);
  • The University of Toronto Scarborough Campus as part of its Cultural Pluralism in Performing Arts events for 2010-2011. One hour presentation with the following performance pieces: Lonely Women (Olga Barrios choreographer/dancer, Miranda Liverpool, Amanda Paixao and Melissa Noventa dancers); Live IV (Kevin A. Ormsby dancer/choreographer and Miranda Liverpool dancer); A Thousand Cranes (as above); Cantus (Olga Barrios and Kevin Ormsby choreographers, and, Kevin A. Ormsby and Miranda Liverpool dancers); Conversation (Kevin A. Ormsby choreographer with Ian Huggins, Jasmyn Fyffe and Miranda Liverpool dancers);
  • Wonderworks in March 2011. Videos of the following dances: Lonely Women and Cantus as noted immediately above;
  • The Strandline Curatorial Collective “Shift” Conference in April 2011. Videos of Lonely Women as noted immediately above;
  • Diasporic Dialogues series of performances in April 2011. A performance of Cantus as noted above with Mikhail P. Morris replacing Kevin A. Ormsby as dancer;
  • Soundspoetic at Array Music in May 2011. One hour presentation with the following performance pieces: Lonely Women (Olga Barrios choreographer/dancer, Miranda Liverpool, Amanda Paixao and Melissa Noventa dancers); Live IV (Kevin A. Ormsby dancer/choreographer and Miranda Liverpool dancer); A Thousand Cranes (as above); Cantus (Olga Barrios and Kevin Ormsby choreographers, and, Kevin A. Ormsby and Miranda Liverpool dancers); Conversation (Kevin A. Ormsby choreographer with Ian Huggins, Jasmyn Fyffe and Miranda Liverpool dancers);
  • Dancemakers on Sept. 17, 2011. This was the collective’s first full length production containing all of the work noted for soundspoetic and including the following additional pieces: Daydreaming About My Father, Mumia and Resisting Slaughter with Amanda Paixao choreographer/dancer; Fleurette Africaine with collective improvisation choreography and dance; Inner Organs with choreography by Olga Barrios and dance by Kevin A. Ormsby; Mother May You Rest in Bliss with choreography by Kevin A. Ormsby and dance by Olga Barrios;
  • Trane Studios on Oct. 11, 2011. Performances of Mumia, Resisting Slaughter, Daydreaming About My Father as noted above with the addition of Money Jungle with choreography by Adrianna Yanuziello and dance by Adrianna and Anna Tara;our
  • TD Bank: Then and Now Program, February 17, 2012. Same as Dancemakers with the addition of Money Jungle as noted immediately above;
  • Beit Zatoun in May 2012. Performances of Salama, Mumia, Letting Go, Resisting Slaughter, Daydreaming About My Father;
  • Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre, September 22, 2012. Performances of Mumia, 1000 Cranes, Daydreaming About My Father, Resisting Slaughter, Multi-verse;
  • International Festival of the Poetry of Resistance October 12, 2012. Mumia, Resisting Slaughter, 1000 Cranes, Daydreaming About My Father.

The key artists who have been with the ‘collective’ from the beginning include:

Kevin Ormsby has danced in Jamaica, the United States and Canada for over twenty years. Kevin’s unique dance history has taken its form from blending the influences of Afro-Caribbean culture through modern and classical dance techniques throughout his career. He was a recipient of The Edna Manley School of the Performing Arts Scholarships in Dance and Drama, where he studied from 1989 to 1992. He has worked as the Assistant Artistic Director of Ballet Creole and prior to this position Mr. Ormsby, from 2001 to 2006, was a member of the internationally renowned, Garth Fagan Dance, Rochester, NY. Kevin was featured in more than 17 of the company’s choreographed works many of which toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. He has worked with Canboulay Dance Theatre, Up from the Roots Entertainment, Menaka Thakker, Caribbean Dance Theatre and Dance Caribe Performing Company.

Charles C. Smith is a poet, playwright and essayist. He studied poetry and drama with William Packard, editor of the New York Quarterly Magazine, at New York University and Herbert Berghof Studios. He also studied drama at the Frank Silvera’s Writers’ Workshop in Harlem. He won second prize for his play Last Days for the Desperate from Black Theatre Canada, has edited three collections of poetry (including the works of Dionne Brand, Marlene Nourbese Phillips, Claire Harris, Cyril Dabydeen, Lillian Allen, George Elliot Clarke, Clifton Joseph), has one published book (Partial Lives) and his poetry has appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including Poetry Canada Review, the Quille and Quire, Descant, Dandelion, Fiddlehead. charles was the founder of the Black Perspectives Cultural Program in Regent Park and recently received a grant from the Ontario Arts Council’s Writers Reserve Grants Program and the Toronto Arts Council Writers’ Grants. He is currently working on a collection of poetry entitled travelogue of the bereaved.

Anahita Azrahimi is currently the Producer and Tour Director of Sparrow in the Room, an artist collective she co-founded with Artistic Directors Robert Morgan and Edith Tankus. She has worked with companies like Dancemakers, Creative Trust for Arts & Culture and the Childrens’ Peace Theatre. She envisioned and created the first Children’s Peace Parade of Toronto, which has since become an annual event. She sits on board of Modern Times Stage Company and the steering committee of Cultural Pluralism in the Performing Arts Movement Ontario.

Robin Styba has a background in performance and photography and seeks to bring visuals to the spoken words by working with a stills camera with film to create a constructed tableaux bridging the reflexive corporeal to the visceral elements of the language. Robin explores the creation of filmic stills crafted into a film with each image appropriately linked to language and visual choreography.

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