A new dance training duo has hit the scene hosting pre-professional dancers 15+ and leaders in the dance community. Offering a unique week of intensive dance training, branch will expose Sudbury dancers to styles and techniques to prepare them for the next level in their professional career.  Mikaela Demers and Denise Vitali, both accomplished dancers locally in their own right have joined forces on this ambitious new endeavour in an effort to strengthen and continue to build Sudbury’s dance community. Demers local dance experience includes, Sudbury Secondary School, Sudbury School of Dance, Dance Evolution, Diane Boulais Studio de Danse, Arts North and with earthdancers before continuing onto Toronto to pursue a BFA in dance. Vitali began her training with Sudbury School of Ballet and completed her dance education with Tina Pel at the Arts Guild Dance Studio in Sudbury, graduating from the three year apprenticeship program for professionals. Her dance studies have taken her to Halifax, Toronto, and Copenhagen to learn new techniques and skills. Having taught dance in Sudbury for 33 years running there could be no one better suited to guide young dancers. We got all the details on branch intensive below so you won’t miss a beat!

Tell us a little more about the branch intensive and the inspiration behind the name?
 branch is a contemporary dance intensive for pre-professional, emerging and professional dancers, choreographers and teachers in Northern Ontario. The intensive aims to provide training and an alternative learning experience for dance students from the age of 15 up to the teachers and choreographers who lead the dance community in Sudbury.  branch explores dance through a range of classes, workshops, and creative processes. The week provides rigorous training that maintains the high standards of physicality and creativity that have been cultivated in Northern Ontario while presenting a faculty of teachers who lead classes and push our concept of what contemporary dance is today.

branch, the name of Sudbury’s Summer Dance Intensive, is based on the image of a tree. Much like the roots of a tree, the dance community in Sudbury is aware and proud of its heritage. Northern Ontario dancers are connected to the people, geography, and way of life in the North that contributes to who they are. This summer intensive aims to be one of the many branches that reach into the Canadian and International dance community. Through creating opportunities and sharing knowledge that has been learned from elsewhere in the world, branch brings home a program designed to meet the needs and interests of the Sudbury Dance Community.

Sudbury has a very vivid and supportive dance community. How has coming from the North influenced your career and creativity in dance?
Coming from the North drastically changed my perspective and desire to pursue dance in my life. For me, what I learned and the support I felt from the dance community in Sudbury became one of the primary reasons I decided to choose dance as an anchor in my career. The sense of community in Sudbury also reinforced my values and helped me to establish myself as an artist. I would like to continue to learn from and in Sudbury, and find ways to give back when I can.

Pursuing a creative career like dancing in our small community is quite a challenge, a major part of that can be limited options for learning new skills and techniques from experts. What kinds of exercises will Sudbury dancers have a chance to try?
branch is designed to facilitate an alternative experience for Sudbury dance artists. The classes are alternative in both organization and style. Straying away from the traditional class format, our faculty will be introducing different ways to warm up, prepare, and ready your body and mind for dancing. In addition, branch focuses on introducing genres and methods of dance that are not common in the current training model in Sudbury. This includes floor work, improvisation, strength training, contact, as well a range of choreographic approaches.

Who is eligible to participate in branch?
branch is a week of professional development. Much like PD days for school teachers, this week offers a range of experiences and methods dance professionals can utilize in their life. To meet the entirety of the Northern Ontario professional dance community, the program is open to pre-professional (15+), emerging (completed a post-secondary program) and professional dancers as well as, teachers and choreographers. We have also extended invitations to attend branch if you are a performing artist of any variety, including but not limited to circus, burlesque, musical theater, and theater artists. Essentially anyone who is interested in the element of dance and considers dance an essential part of their life is absolutely more than welcome to join! The week-long program has been created for the current needs and interests of the Northern Ontario community but is open to dancers from absolutely EVERYWHERE!

Where can we find more information about brand intensive and future workshops?
All information about branch2017 and additional classes, workshops, and events can be found on our website and through our social media accounts:

Insta: @branchintensive

Facebook: Branch Intensive
Twitter: @branchintensive



Jessica Lovelace is a Public Relations and Communications grad, musical theatre enthusiast, lover of live music and part-time unicorn tamer. Some have said that the Big Dripper from Sub City is a regional delicacy and the perfect end to a Sudbury Saturday Night – Jessica is definitely one of those people. No, the hair is not a perm.

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