Dana Michel

Dana Michel is internationally renowned for her intelligent, witty and unconventional solo performances. During her time at Dancemakers she will be challenging herself to make work on a group of dancers, representing a radical shift in her creative practice even as she investigates the potential of drawing on previously investigated concepts. In doing so, she will question the continued sense of expectation she feels around the content and form of her work, looking at both the re-invention of process and the re-iteration of ideas.

Artist Statement      

 ‘An amalgam of choreography, intuitive improvisation and performance art, my artistic practice is rooted in exploring identity as a disordered multiplicity.  I work with notions of performative alchemy and post-cultural bricolage – using live moments, object appropriation, personal history, future desires and current preoccupations to create an empathetic centrifuge of experience between myself and witnesses. Today, my work can perhaps best be described by its influences:  lucid cinematography, living sculpture, physical comedy, psychological excavation, deconstructed social commentary, the bulimic logic of Hip Hop, and child-like naïveté.

In metaphor I think of humans as mathematical concept to help me understand the world.  I consider myself, and others, to be like proofs – complex entities made up of billions of equations. The topics that I choose to explore in my work, such as identity duality and marginalized existences tend to be intimate parts of my personal equation. I feel that making work by tapping into my life experiences is the most effective path to self-knowledge and to meaningful connection with others.

When researching, I alternate between work that takes place in and out of the studio. After pouring over a subject via writing, reading, discussion and audiovisual research, I relax my focus and let the body take over. I feed myself with sound, silence, and dissonance, at times over-stuffing my body and psyche with stimulation to see its response – then the minute details pop into my scopic and kinetic vision. Sometimes these details manifest in visceral-based movement and sounds and other times in ideas influenced by colour, texture or light. These details are what clarify creative direction.

Because of my background in competitive sport, I am often drawn to using difficulty as a choreographic navigation methodology.  Encouraging my performances into places of emergency and vulnerability allow me to dig deeper into the material and to therefore share richer and perhaps more honest findings.  My relatively late and blind introduction to the world of contemporary art seems to infuse a sort of Art Brut sensibility to my performance work.

My pieces have been created and shared in diverse spaces, cities and countries.  Inhabiting both traditional and non-traditional sites has become a key component in the creation of my work.  It is important for me to be able to speak to different cuts of the population in different moments of time, and I am always aware of how these changes of location effect both the sending and the receiving of the work.

I aim to construct works in such a manner that there is much to gain no matter what the public’s knowledge or background. All perceptions of the work are just as valid and important as its intentions – a notion of exponential multiplicity of reactions is welcome.  My work is meant to leave a vast open space for viewers to understand whatever they want and need from understanding.  A goal is to encourage a broadening of interpretation, and an inflation of space for audience members to create their own logic of witnessing and experiencing.  I am interested in sharing a journey where along the way, new ways of seeing can be formed.’


Dana Michel is a choreographer and performer based in Montreal, Canada.  Before entering the BFA in Contemporary Dance program at Concordia University in her late twenties, she was a marketing executive, competitive runner and football player. In 2011, She had the honour of being a danceWEB scholar, allowing her to deepen her research process at the ImPulsTanz International Dance Festival in Vienna, Austria.

Michel’s newest solo, Yellow Towel, premiered at the 2013 Festival TransAmériques (Montreal) to critical acclaim.  The work featured on the “Top Five” and the “Top Ten” 2013 dance moments in the Voir newspaper (Montreal) and Dance Current Magazine (Canada) respectively, and was singled out as one of the most remarkable productions at the 2014 American Realness Festival (New York City) by the New York Times.  Recently, she was awarded the newly created Impulstanz Award in recognition for artistic excellence after presenting Yellow Towel at Impulstanz 2014.

Catch Dana’s work:

In Touch – 1976 and Recent Future [January 22-24, @ 8pm]

1976, Have Several [January 28-31 @ 8pm]

1976, The Moves – Public Dance Class [January 31 @ 12-5pm]

2015-2016 Season Preview: Michel and Smutny In-Progress Showings [April 29-30 @ 8pm]

Recent Press about Dana Michel

Dana Michel named one of the top performers of 2014 by the New York Times: New York Times

Dana Michel's Yellow Towel named one of the top 10 shows of 2014 by Time Out New York: Time Out New York