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PEOPLE

Alyssa Martin Photo by Drew Berry

ALYSSA MARTIN

Artistic Director + Choreographer

Alyssa Martin (she/her) is a choreographer and director based in Toronto/Tkaronto. She uses a joy-centered process to spin irreverent works from a high-energy anti-patriarchal perspective. She's working on using an absurdist approach to bake wonky imaginative coping mechanisms into psychedelic contemporary spectacle. Determined to help blur the distinctions of dance and theatre, she founded Rock Bottom Movement in 2012. The group has since shared full-evening works in the city and abroad; including their more recent award-winning productions, hollow mountain, DINO and Sex Dalmatian 

 

Outside of Rock Bottom, she’s been commissioned to create new work for Toronto Dance Theatre (Bin Chicken), Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre (STAR SEED), The National Ballet of Canada's Apprentices through the MicroCommission Program (Sugar Water), Susie Burpee and Linnea Swan (PUS) as well as numerous professional post-secondary training institutions (DinoLand -Toronto Metropolitan University, CHALANT - SUNY Purchase Conservatory (Steph Harkness), château remorse - Dance Arts Institute (Fromerly School of Toronto Dance Theatre), deconstructed funny girl and DECK - George Brown College).  

 

In addition to concert dance, Alyssa works in theatre and musicals as a choreographer and movement director having worked at The Stratford Festival for three seasons, and at Tarragon Theatre and Theatre Sheridan. She’s worked in residence at The Banff Centre, Canadian Stage and Stratford Festival LAB as well as through programs such as adelheid’s re:research, Toronto Dance Theatre’s Emerging Voices Project, and The National Ballet of Canada's CreativAction Open Space Program. Her dance films have been featured at the Portland Film Festival, Sydney Women’s International Film Festival (Bin Chicken) and dance : made in canada fait au canada (this is not a passion project). She teaches at many post-secondary institutions as well as through her community-based NONDancer workshops.

 

She is currently creating PUS, a new multi-disciplinary work with Susie Burpee and Linnea Swan, choreographing at The Stratford Festival, creating KID SISTER with Rock Bottom, and is the Metcalf Intern in Artistic Development at The National Ballet of Canada.

She won the 2023 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Original Choreography (Sex Dalmatian), and her work has earned Rock Bottom Movement five Dora Mavor Moore Awards (Outstanding Production and Ensemble - Sex Dalmatian, Outstanding Production and Ensemble - hollow mountain) and nine nominations. She is the recipient of the Bulmash-Siegel New Creation Award, Canadian Stage Award for Direction, Jack McAllister Award for Alumni Achievement and was nominated for the 2023 Joanna Metcalf Award. 

 

Alyssa approaches her dance with an openness for spontaneity and deep consideration for the collaborators and audiences who come to play. She believes new work should be created from a place of joy and curiosity in a down-to-earth process that worships the collaborators in a collective quest for glittering catharsis. Audiences should be trusted as co-conspirators in our mission to achieve escapist moments of wonky joy.    

PERFORMER/COLLABORATORS

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sam grist 

Performer + Collaborator 

Performer + Originally from Winnipeg Manitoba, Sam Grist is a Toronto based contemporary dancer, performer, teacher, and fitness instructor. She has been a dancer and collaborator with Toronto based absurdist dance theatre company, Rock Bottom Movement since 2012, winning the 2020 & 2023 Dora Mavor Moore Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble and Outstanding Production for the company's work, hollow mountain (2020) and Sex Dalmatian (2023). In addition to her work with Rock Bottom, Sam has collaborated and performed with choreographers including Hanna Kiel, David Earle, Susie Burpee, Shannon Litzenberger, Julia Aplin, Jennifer Nichols, Anisa Tejpar, and Clare Preuss. 

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natasha poon woo

Performer + Collaborator 

Natasha Poon Woo began training and performing with Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre (CCDT) in her hometown of Toronto. She then studied at the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase, performing the works of Pam Tanowitz, Twyla Tharp, and Doug Varone before graduating summa cum laude with a BFA and the President’s Award for Achievement. Natasha is a frequent performer with Rock Bottom Movement and Côté Danse, and has worked with Conny Janssen Danst, Kevin Wynn Collection, BoucharDanse, The Dietrich Group, Roderick George, Benjamin Landsberg, Ryan Lee, Gadfly, Little Pear Garden, and Hit & Run Dance Productions, among others. She is a Dora Award-winning performer with Rock Bottom for its acclaimed productions, Sex Dalmatian and hollow mountain.

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drew berry

Performer + Collaborator 

Drew Berry is a Toronto-based performer and teacher. Her mediums include dance, theatre, photography, videography, and classical piano. In 2016, Drew joined Rock Bottom Movement and since has performed in six full-length works with the company. Other collaborators include: Brodie Stevenson, Jaberi Dance Theatre, Portal Dance, Emma Kerson, Nico Contreras, Irma Villafuerte, and Alias Dance Project. Drew is the resident photographer/videographer with Kaeja d'Dance and has done freelance photo/video work with many independent artists and organizations in the community. Drew was an artist in residence at Guelph Dance where she created a short film Portraiture, which premiered at the Guelph Dance Festival and was later shown at Hillside Homeside and Dance Made in Canada earning the Moving Pictures Award. Drew is on faculty at Centennial College. A graduate from Quinte Ballet School of Canada’s post-graduate program, Drew holds her BFA (Honours) from the Performance Dance program at Toronto Metropolitan University.

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brayden jamil cairns

Performer + Collaborator 

Brayden Jamil Cairns (he/they) is a Toronto based artist and member of Alyssa Martin's company, Rock Bottom Movement. He left rural Ontario in 2015 to train at Toronto Metropolitan University’s School of Performance. Since his training, Brayden has worked with the likes of Rodney Diverlus, Anne Plamondon and many of his peers in collaborative processes. Brayden is interested in movement that can be enjoyed by people from all walks of life. He binds dance and lived experience to create challenging works of art, utilizing different media such as writing and film. Many of these ideas come from a powerful need to uplift the queer and BIPOC communities. Brayden will often be found researching what it is to feel pleasure and what can come from self-exploration.

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pony nicole herauf

Performer + Collaborator 

Pony Nicole Herauf is a queer creator and performer originally from Calgary, Alberta. She graduated from the Toronto Metropolitan University: School of Performance Acting program in 2018. Pony works as a writer, director, actor, and dramaturge. Her filmic work has been programmed and awarded at festivals such as the Vancouver International, Whistler, TIFF, TIFF Next Wave, Chattanooga, Forest City, Myrtle Beach, the Los Angeles Independent Short Awards, and now streams on CBC Gem.

Steph Harkness

steph harkness

Performer + Collaborator 

Steph Harkness (they/them) is a dancer, anthropologist, and greenhouse worker from Mississauga, ON. In the spring of 2022 Steph graduated summa cum laude from Purchase College, SUNY with a BFA in dance and a BA in anthropology. 

This past summer, Steph had their Rock Bottom Movement debut performing in DINO at the National Ballet of Canada’s sharing the stage festival and have since performed in Sex Dalmatian and the Guelph Dance reprisal of DINO.

Steph is in the continuous pursuit of freelance projects while nurturing their interest in anthropology, exploring the potential of dance as a means for experiencing catharsis, cultivating community, and healing.

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sierra kellman

Performer + Collaborator 

Sierra Kellman started her dance training at a local studio in Markham, ON. She continued her pursuit of dance with Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre in Toronto. Sierra graduated in the Spring of 2022 from the Performance Dance program at Toronto Metropolitan University and has danced in Tkaronto and the surrounding areas for many years. Through her studies, she has had the opportunity to be a part of many performances and dance films by prominent choreographers including Angela Blumberg, Alyssa Martin, Natasha Powell, Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber. Sierra has taken part in dance festivals in Toronto including The National Ballet of Canada Sharing the Stage with Rock Bottom Movement (2022) and Fall For Dance North with HOLLA JAZZ (2021). At the core of Sierra’s artistic practice, she believes it is important to express personal experiences and emotions as a way of showcasing individual identity through contemporary movement.

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morgyn aronyck-Schell

Guest Performer + Collaborator 

Morgyn Aronyk-Schell (She/They) is a contemporary dance artist and an arts educator for youth and seniors. They are one of the co-creators behind ‘blank space’, a series of movement-focused, multidisciplinary community workshops. Originally from Edmonton AB, she moved to Toronto to study at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre, where she graduated in 2019. Since then she has worked with the Toronto-based dance companies Frog in Hand, Human Body Expression, Kaeja d’Dance, Peggy Baker Dance Projects, OVERSIZE.LOAD, Citadel + Compagnie, Wind in the Leaves Collective, Tiger Princess Dance Projects, and most recently, is SO very excited to be joining Rock Bottom Movement in Sex Dalmatian!! Morgyn is also an amateur guitarist, singer and drummer in her band Bow Wow Kiss Kiss. 

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david bernstein 

Dramaturg, Writer + Creative Advisor 

David Bernstein is a Canadian writer, director, dramaturg and teacher. His work has been presented at Teater Momentum in Odense, Denmark; the Soho Theatre in London, UK; Ars Nova, the New Ohio Theater, The Public Theater, Judson Church and Dixon Place in New York, USA; and the Theatre Centre and Citadel Theatre in Toronto, Canada. Most recently, his work for radio has been commissioned by Museet for Samtidskunst in Roskilde, Denmark and published in the Ny nordisk radiodramatik 2019/2020 anthology by Akt1 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He has collaborated with Toronto-based dance company Rock Bottom Movement on five pieces since 2016, and taught his original performance method internationally. 

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NOAH FEAVER

Lighting Designer 

Noah Feaver is a Dora Award nominated lighting designer. He works frequently in Dance and Opera and has designed for companies such as: Edmonton Opera, Toronto Dance Theatre, Tapestry Opera, Human Body Expression, Holla Jazz, Citadel + Compagnie, Zata Omm, The Royal Conservatory of Music, Against the Grain Theatre, and Rock Bottom Movement. He has worked as the Lighting Director for Ballet BC, and as the Associate Lighting Director/Programmer for Fall for Dance North. Noah holds a BFA from Toronto Metropolitan University’s Performance Production program and spent two summers as a lighting design practicum at The Banff Centre. He teaches at The National Theatre School of Canada. Noah is a member of the Associated Designers of Canada.

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Jacob vanderham

Composer

Jacob Vanderham (he/they) is a producer, songwriter and performance artist based in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal. He creates music for film/theatre/dance and his alternative solo pop project, Telehorn. A frequent collaborator of Dora award-winning choreographer Alyssa Martin, founder of Rock Bottom Movement, he has composed the scores for acclaimed works such as DINO and KID SISTER presented in the National Ballet’s 2022 and 2023 Sharing the Stage concert series; STARSEED with the Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre and Lettuce Head a movement concert for all ages developed with the support of the Bulmash-Siegel Award at Tarragon Theatre. Singles from Telehorn’s debut full-length record, mixed by Juno winner Austin Tufts of Braids will start dropping in the fall of 2023. @teleh0rn www.telehornmusic.com (http://www.telehornmusic.com)

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morgan-paige melbourne

Composer

Morgan-Paige Melbourne is a Tkarón:to-based interdisciplinary artist. With experiences ranging from scoring short films to solo performances, her work and story were featured in Musicworks Magazine Winter 2020-2021 Issue 138, The WholeNote Magazine, Ludwig van Toronto and Toronto Guardian. Past projects include Bin Chicken in collaboration with Toronto Dance Theatre and Alyssa Martin, The Magic Wallet short film, Mission Sankofa short film, Hillside Inside’s The Sound of Light, Where Do I Go? short film with Tapestry Opera and Rock Bottom Movement, 21C Music Festival’s New Music In A New World, a commissioned work and performance for Suoni Per Il Popolo, sound art installation My Ancestor Summons Me at MOCA Toronto, Debaser Pique, the 21C Music Festival with the world premiere of her improvisational work A Time to Exist in Koerner Hall, and Wavelength Summer Thing opening for headliner Backxwash.

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benjamin shapiro

Composer

Benjamin Shapiro is a musician, composer, producer, and multi-disciplinary artist based in Toronto. He’s interested in exploring unique, raw forms of expression that feel as though they are living and breathing. He has produced music and soundscapes for short films, dance performances, records, ads, as well as various idiosyncratic biofeedback and AI-based projects. Benjamin’s auditory output spans a wide range of genres including indie rock, house, ambient, folk, techno, hip hop, hyperpop, R&B, jazz, and country. He plays in the art-rock band Glutenhead, as well as genre experiments Don Blitzer and All That Is Criminal. Benjamin has a background in neuroscience and is in graduate training to be a psychotherapist. He published a book of poetry in 2019 and is currently working on a philosophical novella.

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kathy le

Stage Manager

Originally from Surrey, BC, Kathy Le is an emerging multi-disciplined performer and artist in Toronto, ON. She recently graduated from George Brown College and is now a mentee under the Human Body Expressions x Ballet Jorgen mentorship program. Kathy uses her extensive dance training to perform, choreograph and also stage manage movement-based shows in the Greater Toronto Area. Her most recent work includes choreographing “Come and Go”, an original piece, that will be remounted at George Brown Dance’s Unleashed in April 2023.

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