By Kevin Leung

The Lower Mainland is full of inspiring dance companies that bravely produce new works with style. With the ethos of honing in on cultivating local talent and producing new works from emerging choreographers, the scene is expanding with both experimental and mainstream creations. Whether you’re a seasoned dance enthusiast or a visitor looking for culture, you’re never far from an awe-inspiring performance.

Artistic director Marissa Wong is committed to producing performances that entertain and make people think in equal measure. Exploring perceptions of who and where we are, Wong presents pieces that feel relevant while also supporting other artists.

Photo Credit: Ashley Blalock

A contemporary community-based dance company based out of Burnaby’s Shadbolt Center for the Arts. This program combines training and performances in a full three-season program.

Photo Credit: Derek Dix

Formed in the 1960s, The Dancers of Damelahamid was created as a means to preserve the artistic practices of traditional Indigenous dance. Through dance, song and story, these techniques and traditions are kept alive in every one of their performances. Wearing intricately detailed masks and regalia, these performers create a portal to the past for their audience. The company also provides instructional workshops at elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools.

Photo Credit: Chris Randle

EDAM’s mandate is to provide a stable and fertile environment for the development of contemporary dance. Artistic director Peter Bingham keeps his company output sharp by exploring kinetic movement with a focus on improvisation. While producing their own work, EDAM also collaborates with guest choreographers to further the company’s emphasis on collective creation.

Photo Credit: Michael Slobodian

This North Shore-based contemporary training and performing company is renowned for fostering artists pursuing dance as a profession. At the end of each season, dancers have the opportunity to self-choreograph a new work performed with theatrical costumes and lighting. A fantastic company to follow if you’re interested in seeing the next generation of creative performers.

Photo Credit: Tim Matheson

Founder, Julia Taffe created Aeriosa in 2005 to establish vertical dance in Canada and to collaborate with dancers and choreographers in an exciting new art form. If you’re new to the medium, imagine dancers soaring through the air, creating striking formations along the sides of buildings or between towering tree trunks.
Using a multidisciplinary approach that blends contemporary dance with rock climbing, Aeriosa creates a stunning form of movement that shouldn’t be missed.

Photo Credit: Juan E Contreras

Sharing and performing stories from an Indigenous worldview, Raven Spirit creates modern dance and fuses it with history, heritage and tradition. Along with the artistry of their pieces, the company presents a means of dialogue on the importance of Indigenous representation. Working also with theatre, puppetry and multi-media, the company isn’t afraid to step beyond the medium of movement.

Photo Credit: Susan McKenzie

Mascall Dance is a creation, production, and education endeavour with 30+ seasons of work. Recently, they have pivoted to address climate issues while exploring how dance can advocate and advance work with the environment. Taking creative turns, like working within inanimate objects and sculpture, Mascall always creates something surprising and fresh.

Photo Credit: Lung S Liu

With Julie-Ann Saroyan at the helm, this multi-media dance company is known for creating one-of-a-kind installations across the city. Whether it’s public flamenco performances, or transparent bubbles with dancers inside, you’ll never see the same thing twice at a Small stage show. Be sure to check out their upcoming collaboration at the Vancouver Lumiere Festival!

Photo Credit: Todd MacDonald

Dance House proves that the world is a stage with frequent performances from international artists. Collaborating with renowned dance companies across the globe, DanceHouse is a curated events calendar as much as a stunning creation house for local performers.

As each company has performances at various venues, it’s best to check their sites as to where you’ll be headed next!

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