Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie

Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie (CLC) is a professional dance organization that creates and presents works on a local, national and international scale.

Our Impact Why We Exist

The company is recognized as one of the most dynamic forces in Canadian dance, due to the scope of its social and artistic vision and the accomplishments of its founders/artistic directors. Our mandate is to foster cultural participation and creative expression in the communities we work with. We focus not only on passing on our own artistic traditions, but nurturing an understanding of world culture. Our projects across Canada, around the world, and in Regent Park not only have a meaningful social impact but provide our community with art of the highest calibre. The Company creates ground-breaking events that bring together artists at the forefront of their fields with local community members, from the grasslands of rural Saskatchewan to the coast of Newfoundland to the Mongolian mountains. CLC's new base in Regent Park is uniquely positioned to affect one of the most diverse communities in Canada through its arts-based activities.

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

Coleman Lemieux and Compagnie (CLC) was founded in 2000 by Bill Coleman and Laurence Lemieux. After seven years in Montreal, CLC relocated to Toronto and established its base in the Citadel, an old Salvation Army building in the heart of Regent Park. The building houses rehearsal studio, theatre and office space for the company as well as the creative community. CLC is a dance company unlike others; it is run by two renowned dance artists, but also presents the work of its Resident Choreographer, James Kudelka. The company creates internationally recognized stage works and is also known for its series Beyond the Stage, large-scale events in remote and diverse communities - combining dance, music and visual arts and bringing professional artists and local community members together to collaborate on the creation of the event. They have worked with Aboriginal communities in Saskatchewan and nomadic people of northern Mongolia and more.  Recently, the company presented two Regent Park events which involved everyone from a lead dancer with the National Ballet of Canada to the construction workers involved in the revitalization. In 2011, the company began offering dance classes for youth taught by professional dancers, with full scholarships available for youth from Regent Park.

Accolades and Accomplishments

Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie has been incorporated and working with artists and communities for 13 years.

Co-Artistic Director Laurence Lemieux is a recipient of the Dora Mavor Moore award for Best Performance in Dance.

Co-Artistic Director Bill Coleman is a recipient of the Jacqueline Lemieux award for revitalizing the art of choreography.

Artistic highlights:

- Convoy PQ. 17 (2001), performed in Canada and in Russia;

- Varenka, Varenka!, performed in Canada and Russia, selected as one of the Top Ten Dances of 2003 by the Globe & Mail and Now Magazine;

- The Kudelka/Taylor Project, hailed as one of the most important dance events of 2006 by the Globe and Mail.

- In 2007, CLC appeared as headliners at the 75th Anniversary Season of the Jacob's Pillow Festival.

- CLC's performance of Kudelka's Soudain, l'hiver dernier in 2007 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival garnered the Bank of Scotland Herald Angels Award.

- The Manitoba Project: From Pointe Shoes to Powwow, a community dance event presented in Winnipeg and the Long Plain First Nation Powwow;

- Coleman's work, Hymn To The Universe was in The Star's Top Ten dance events of 2008, and Eye Magazine's top ten music events;

- From the House of Mirth, performed in 2012 in Canada, was nominated for 4 Dora Mavor Moore awards in 2013.

Our Programs How We Do It

Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie was formed in 2000 to facilitate the creation, production and presentation of dance works by the Company's Co-Artistic Directors, Bill Coleman and Laurence Lemieux. The company also presents and produces the works of its resident choreographer, James Kudelka.

Coleman is a visionary - his creative output has taken many forms over the years - presenting over fifty original dances for the stage and creating many site-specific, community-based events for Beyond the Stage.

Choreographing striking and resonant stage works, Laurence was nominated as Best female dancer for the 2012 Dora Mavor Moore awards and is currently nominated as Best Female Dancer in NOW Magazine's poll.

The company's conviction that dance, and art in general, should not live in isolation is its primary vision. Dance needs to be taken to and developed with all types of people, in all types of communities. As Coleman states, "The art that we make for remote and diverse communities has the same standards of excellence as the work we create for major dance venues. Much of CLC's formal training in dance is brought into the work we do in the community. Likewise, the Company's community-based work and experiences have helped shape and give meaning to the work we create for the stage. We strongly believe that art and creation can take place in the most surprising places with the most unusual of partners (artistic and community) working together on the shared goal of creation."

Aside from the company's Stage and Beyond the Stage dance works, we have opened a dance venue in Toronto's Regent Park, the Citadel, that is a place for some of Toronto's most vibrant creative projects, as well as after school youth programs that aim to provide the most quality instruction in a professional environment, accessible to youth from any neighbourhood or demographic.

 

Beyond the Stage

Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie (CLC) has become known not only for its award-winning performances in traditional theatrical venues, but also for a series of path-breaking site-specific events bringing together creators at the forefront of their fields — dance, visual arts, music, video — with diverse communities such as Toronto’s own Regent Park neighbourhood.

With its “Beyond The Stage” events, CLC aims to help adapt Canada’s artistic cultures to its local cultures, to establish enduring connections between artists and local communities. CLC’s “Beyond The Stage” events involve several levels of artistic activity and community collaboration, but centre around a two-way exchange in which world-class artists present both existing and newly created work while local residents and organizations are recruited to witness and share in the creation, to present their own artistic achievements, and to celebrate their particular regions and cultures.

No other organization creates one-of-a-kind events as “mystical, unpretentious, and full of wonder” (Renate Klett, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) as CLC.

CLC is “literally … taking dance to places where it has never been before” (Toronto Star).

Funding and Program Partners

Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie’s overall operations are supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, The Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council. Canadian Heritage has supported both events through its Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage program. We have received project support specifically for our work in Regent Park from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Metcalf Foundation. Daniels Corporation, the developer for the Regent Park revitalization, has provided both in kind and cash support. For the 2010 event we partnered with The Luminato Festival, who supported our series of workshops in the Nelson Mandela School and the final event as well. Toronto Community Housing Corporation and Dixon Hall have provided both logistical and in kind support for both the 2009 and 2010 events.

Program Impact

Presenting in places where such work may not have been seen before assures that communities of all kinds have the chance to experience artistry of the highest calibre, and local artists are provided with exposure to a wider audience than is normally available to them, therefore, diverse demographic audiences of up to 700 per event attend the actual performances and more participate in outreach activities: impacting local Regent Park economic development and tourism while promoting a greater understanding of cross-cultural communities.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"A thriving cultural sector is not only good for the economy, but fosters greater citizen engagement and sense of belonging, higher levels of giving and volunteering, and improved health." 

Community gatherings that combine residents, children, seniors with professional artists, musicians and choreographers help bridge the gap between inaccessible culture and local community, creating truly spectacular and transformative experiences, and therefore opportunities for wellness and growth.

Participant Vignette

This is a quote from Kate Stark, the Executive Director of Dixon Hall,

“Bill, Laurence, It was fantastic today.  Your creative, artistic work is amazing!  As my husband and I walked back to our car, we walked through Regent Park and behind a family that lives in the south end. The young boy of about 12 or 13 was saying “that was fantastic today was a lot of fun.”  Mom said, “Yes it brought tears to my eyes”.  Son said “tears of joy…I hope we can watch them take down our building when it’s our turn”. Congratulations!

The following is from Mitchell Cohen, President of Daniels Corporation.

“We are truly fortunate that you and Laurence chose to settle in our neighbourhood.  You have already become such an important part of the transformation.  Your desire and ability to engage folks in the local community, as well as the larger artistic community is particularly exciting.  The opportunity for Council Fire, Linta and her family, the local food people, and our construction people, to be part of staging this event was wonderful, and memorable for everyone involved.

We look forward to continuing to work closely with you and Laurence and your amazing team on many more initiatives as the months and years unfold”.

Youth Dance Class Scholarships

CLC is an integral part of the Regent Park community, and we know that dance and the arts have a unique power to engage youth and motivate them toward excellence. Since our arrival in  Regent Park in 2007, we have engaged local youth through our various site specific projects, ongoing teaching in public schools, and through our programs at the Citadel.

Our program consist of 3 types of dance classes for youth (Ballet, Contemporary & Hip Hop) for two different age brackets (10-16 and 16-29) and we partner with Toronto youth organizations to provide other youth programs.

The Youth Dance Class Scholarship is completely free access to our classes for youth living in Regent Park, first, and if enough support is available, to provide subsidy for youth from other neighbourhoods.

We aim to offer the very best, without barriers and boundaries, to help enrich the creativity of as many youth as we can. Our goal is to interest youth in dance, wellness, fitness, and creative expression: starting points for success, health, and excellence. The physical and health benefits of regular dancing are clear, and we strongly believe that the self-assurance and discipline that regular dance training can provide will benefit all aspects of their lives.

The instructors hired for the classes are professionals in their field with extensive backgrounds and successful dance careers, so that only exceptional learning experiences are offered for youth at the Citadel, accessible to youth from any socio-cultural background. The classes consist of a series of exercises designed to provide understanding of movement, exchange of weight and the use of dance as a language for self expression. The basic principle is to connect inside the body in order to understand the self and therefore express it.

This program strives to reach a wide diversity of young people in the community, transcending barriers of language, culture, and physical challenges.

Funding and Program Partners

CLC has been very fortunate to receive support from the Toronto Community Foundation, the Charles H Ivey Foundation, as well as generous contributions from many committed donors for this program.

Program Impact

  • Vice-Principal Jason Kandankery wrote on the program’s impact in his letter of support:

“ …Your involvement in the Regent Park community, specifically with Nelson Mandela Park Public School…[has] demonstrated your genuine commitment to closing the “opportunity gap” for inner city youth as you have generously given students at [the school] dance and yoga opportunities that they would otherwise not have.  Students who participated in your programming have shown an increase in confidence, and improved self-regulation skills.  For example, students who were in your programs last year had an 80% reduction in suspensions."

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"Youth use arts-based approaches to address issues."

"The Laidlaw Foundation is convinced that "engaged young people are a “cornerstone of a healthy and inclusive society.”

Youth are in a positition to make pivotal decisions that will determine a direction in their lives, and affect their community. Dance is a medium that develops and enforces the combination of physical health, psychological wellness, and creative spirit that empowers youth to make the right decisions.

Participant Vignette

Our youth dance program is not just classes, but mentorship opportunities.

“That is what I want, I am ready for it!” is Destinée's final statement after a long effort by CLC, dance class instructors, and Destinée to make it to Rosedale School for the Arts.

A student at Toronto First Nations school, she is the youngest of a family of 4 children raised by a single mother who was relocated outside of Regent Park. Destinée travelled on her own from her school to our studio when she was 13 years old and first came to our studio in May 2010. She had been here every week since and, in, January 2013, she applied to the Rosedale Heights School of the Arts, (the only public arts high school in the downtown area) hoping to pursue her dance studies. She was refused because of a problem with Dyslexia but, after a well-fought battle, Rosedale Heights decided to create room for Destinée in the Arts studies.  Destinée now juggles two different schools as she pursues her academic studies at Central Tech and dance at Rosedale. But she says, “That is what I want, I am ready for it!”

What You Can Do

Beyond the Stage

Activities a donation will support

Investment in the Beyond the Stage program through TCF will ensure that we have the means to plan new and creative events in Regent Park, Toronto that reach beyond the boundaries of stages, venues, and ticket booths and shake up the barriers to professional art experiences in the local community.

Donation impact

With financial support for Beyond the Stage, Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie will also be able to invest in collaborative partnerships with local organizations and businesses (large and small) in a creative process, and include mentorship of youth and amateur artists during event planning and creation. All large-scale events are the tip of the iceberg of a creative process that empowers, and transforms all those who are involved in their organization.

Youth Dance Class Scholarships

Activities a donation will support

For every $180 invested in this program, one scholarship for one term can be covered for a Regent Park youth to take our youth dance classes at the Citadel.

For every $540 invested in this program, one full year scholarship is available to a Regent Park participant.

Your support will enable to us to not only provide free access to instruction by Toronto's best dancers, but also to plan and promote a final end-of-year public performance in a state of the art theatre, and conduct better outreach to reach local youth who wouldn't at first realize that dance is a possiblity for them.

Donation impact

With your financial support for full scholarships for youth dance classes in Regent Park, we can use the reputation, expertise, and gorgeous facilities to continue to be one of the very few truly accessible, high quality, barrier-free dance schools in Toronto, and to do all this in a neighbourhood experiencing sensitive transformation in the city at this time.

Contact

Jay Rankin
Executive Director
647.825.6822
Charitable Number: 143754026RR0001

Finance & Governance

Annual Operating Budget: 
$ 715,154

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