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Meet The Artists

Biography

Karen Kaeja

choreographers / contact improvisation / Kaeja d’Dance

(1961- )

Allen Kaeja and Karen Kaeja are co-artistic directors of Kaeja d'Dance in Toronto, Ontario, as well as life partners. They married in 1989 and formed the company two years later as a vehicle for their choreography, performance, touring and teaching activities. Fundamental to their work is the equal opportunities dance form of contact improvisation, out of which Kaeja d'Dance's athletic style of choreography developed.

Both Ontario-born artists bring wide influences to their work. Allen had nine years of wrestling and judo before entering the field of modern dance. Karen, while in York University's dance therapy program, was instrumental in developing a dance therapy course for the elderly. She also studied Mitzvah technique and was introduced to contact improvisation at this time.

Karen presented her first choreographic work, Hangman (1991), at Toronto's inaugural fFIDA (fringe Festival of Independent Dance Artists). Allen, who received the 1999 Clifford E. Lee Choreography Award, began choreographing in 1982. Among his most successful works are Old Country (1995) and Resistance (2000), both based on the Holocaust, a subject with personal resonance.

In addition to his stage work, Allen also choreographs for film. In 1997, he co-directed Witnessed, one of several collaborations with filmmaker Mark Adam. Another was Zummel (1999), which won Karen the award for Best Performance from Toronto's Moving Pictures Festival of Dance on Film and Video.

The two are active community players and, in 1997, Karen co-founded the Festival of Interactive Physics with dance improviser Pam Johnson. In 1991, Allen co-founded fFIDA with Michael Menegon; they were co-directors until Allen's departure in 2001.

Allen and Karen Kaeja are popular teachers of contact improvisation and improvisation. They have taught at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre and at Canada's National Ballet School, as well as internationally.

Websites:

Kaeja D’Dance Company

Learn more:

Oriold, Carol, Allen Kaeja and Karen Kaeja. Express Dance: Educators’ Resource for Teaching Dance. Toronto: Dance Collection Danse Press/es, 2000.