Our Vision 

We are committed to the belief that art leads change: We strive to preserve the richness of arts practices brought to Canada over time by its diverse population, while developing new expressions for Canada today and tomorrow.

Our Mission 

  • Our process of collaboration among a dynamic collective of accomplished, passionate artists creates performances that push genre boundaries and reflect our diverse backgrounds and artistic practices.
  • Our performances are curated to reach and impact audiences viscerally, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually at the same time – critical thought is  provoked, imag­ination is stim­ulated, and imagination is nur­tured.
  • Our work in community helps to improve access to the arts in underserved communities, and supports the teaching of cultural literacy and creative expression in school programs.

 Our Values

  • Being vision-lead while audience-focused
  • Believing in transformative value of art
  • Living inclusivity in practice

Artistic Director’s Statement

 CharlesSmithPicThe wind in the leaves collective’s performances choreograph poetry, music, dance and visuals into evocative theatrical experiences designed to reach and stimulate audiences intellectually, emotionally and spiritually at the same time.

Our approach provides for a rare view into a multi-disciplinary collaboration and exchange amongst artists on contemporary issues where each creates and shares, bringing her/his roots, practice and sensibilities to the collective’s work; a unique way of artistic exploration.

WITL History

The wind in the leaves collective was conceived in the spring of 2009 over the course of a series of conversations between poet charles c. smith and choreographers Olga Barrios and Kevin A. Ormsby that resulted in the creation of a number of performance works focusing on the African Diaspora, and have since explored both the personal and collective impact of Black history in the US and Canada in a wide array of topics related to power and marginalization; working with a diverse and ever-growing cast of artists and collaborators.

The wind in the leaves collective’s repertoire has now been performed on a number of stages across Ontario and has been part of an array of theatre and dance festivals:

  • Guelph Jazz Festival’s Colloquium Series – September 2010.
  • Lab Cab Festival at Factory Theatre – September 2010
  • Cultural Pluralism in Performing Arts events at University of Toronto (Scarborough Campus) – 2010-2011
  • SHIFT Conference of the Strandline Curatorial Collective – April 2011
  • Diasporic Dialogues series of performances – April 2011
  • Dancemakers – September 2011
  • TD Bank: Then and Now Program – February 2012
  • Beit Zatoun – May 2012
  • Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre – September 2012
  • International Festival of the Poetry of Resistance – October 2012
  • Been A Long Time Comin’: Performed at the University of Toronto (all campuses) – February 2013
  • Decolonial Aesthetics (FUSE Magazine and e-fagia) – October 2013
  • Ontario Contact Showcase – October 2013
  • Oakville Centre for Performing Arts – February 2015
  • Art Gallery of Mississauga – September 2015
  • Jackman Humanities Institute – March 2016
  • Breaking Text (Nippising) – January 2017
  • 4directions Festival – Toronto, June 2017
  • CAMINOS Festival 2017 – October 2017
  • Spirit of the Artist (Church of the Messiah) – October 2017

To see more, go to our gallery which showcases photos and videos of our works.

Performance Testimonials

“Charles Smith’s vision touches a hidden level of experience that lies just below the surface of our awareness. […] The experience stayed with me long after I left the theatre.”

– Kerry Gordon, PhD


Bea Pizano, Artistic Director Aluna Theatre

“The piece was so moving to me personally and recharged me spiritually in a much needed way!” 

– Vivia KayMinister of Outreach and Hospitality, Church of the Messiah

“Wind in the leaves is not soothing; it is profoundly disturbing and thought-provoking although delivered with a light touch […]. Just maybe, it will disturb us enough to move more earnestly towards healing.”

– Yola Grant, Human rights lawyer

Community Workshop Testimonials

“Working with the ‘wind in the leaves collective’ is always a pleasure.  The collective is made up of a dynamic group of individuals artists all committed to bringing high quality, participatory arts projects to neighbourhoods and underserved communities throughout Toronto. Their commitment to social justice and inclusivity is admirable, while their collaborative program design ensures participants have a role in all stages of the project. They are a great example of community arts in this city.” 

– Melissa Foster, Program and Outreach Manager North York Arts

“The facilitators were very knowledgeable in their own artistic mediums. Every session was unique and thoughtfully structured. Each facilitator held the space so well, and left lots of room for us as participants to engage […], which allowed for connection and creativity to flow in such an authentic way. This workshop allowed us to explore multiple mediums to create a holistic, almost transcendent kind of art form. […] This was an experience I found very inspiring, and one that I will not soon forget.”

– Beeta Senedjani (workshop participant)

“I felt connected and comfortable. […] I looked forward to each session and was never disappointed, for each session was a new learning experience. The leaders shared their knowledge with patience and tolerance. […]I thank you all for sharing your knowledge with us – it’s people like you who make this world a better place.” 

– Cynthia Walker (workshop participant)

“I am writing to express my appreciation for the opportunity to participate in the recent Art Meets program at the East Scarborough Storefront. The leaders shared their knowledge, inspiration and patience as they led […] us through a process that was transformative for me. Thanks again.”

– Kerrin Churchill (workshop participant)