KAREN KAEJA (CO-ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, CHOREOGRAPHER, PVD CONCEPT) is an award-winning performer for stage and film, choreographer, community builder, project instigator and educator. Co-AD of Kaeja d’Dance with Allen Kaeja, her awards include the CDA “I Love Dance” Community Award for her invention of Porch View Dances (PVD) and the Fleck Fellowship for Innovation. A 7-time Dora Mavor Moore nominee for Choreography and Performance, including 4 Dora’s for Crave which won one, plus another for XTOD: Solo Dance Xchange (SDX), she is distinguished in The Canadian Who’s Who, was a finalist for the TAF Muriel Sherrin Award for International achievement in dance, the CDA Innovation Award, and NOW’s Best Local Choreographer and Best Dance Company. Her work is presented around the world, including residencies at MUN/Dance NL, the Guelph Dance Festival (GDF), DJD - Calgary, Banff Centre for the Arts (6X) and Mukogawa Women’s University – Japan (3X). She is an International performer with recent tours in Mexico and Japan. Karen has created 16 original Porch View Dances works with brave and beautiful families and community members. Mentor to many instrumental dance artists, Karen is also Co-AD with Claudia Moore of Cloud 9 and Artistic Advisor for Jaberi Dance Theatre. Upcoming commissions include Blue Ceiling, Guetcha Guaritcha, Chimera Project, Downtown Dances Moncton and PVD, among others.
When did you first think of yourself as an artist?
I always knew I was a slight bit different and sensitive to the world around me. I realize that was my entry point as an artist, though hard to define on a timeline. To actually state myself as an artist, it took many many years of negotiating who I was relative to my family structure and the people, colleagues and artists in Canada. Today I am still not sure of how I would define an artist but I do know that dance and movement have taken over my life and consumed me, so perhaps that is it.
Who helped you develop your voice as an artist?
Paula Ravitz, Allen Kaeja, and the thousands of artists whom I have engaged or interacted with over the decades have all effected the development of my voice.
What’s something that’s inspired you this week?
I am in Calgary working as dancer/choreographer for director Bruce Barton and dramaturg Pil Hansen. To be in the room with these humans in the early phase of a creative exploration is none other than exquisite.
What’s your favourite restaurant in the city to visit?
Nana on Queen St W for a significant date and my local go to is Pour Boy on Manning after a long day!
What do you want to see more of on Toronto stages?
We are already seeing more of what I hope for - the real side of life through the imagination of an artist - the grit, the love, the struggle, the diversity of all human beings, new voices and major cross-disciplinary projects and new voices!