Artistic Director — Choreographer — Performer — Art Educator
Founded in 2020, Sonia St-Michel Creations is dedicated to artistic research, creation and dissemination. Our work draws from dance, intersecting performance, choreography and installation, fostering collaborations across diverse mediums and artistic practices. Our creations are rooted in Sonia St-Michel's artistic practice in Odissi dance which she has been engaged with for 20 years.
"Our work is a catalyst for exploring ways to remember our relationship to earth and the sacred, and to bring it closer to everyday consciousness.
Art lives in the people who practice it, never static, constantly evolving. We invest in generations to come by providing arts education experiences."
— Sonia St-Michel
Sonia creates contemplative and enveloping works slowly unfolding layers of subtlety and depth. Committing to processes that engage in a dialogue with varied artistic forms and structures of creation and representation, her approach pays attention to detail, subtle energies and interiority.
Her practice in Odissi dance began in 2000 (Anjali Academy, Upasana), travelling regularly to India to pursue choreographic research, to perform and for training with Smt. Aloka Panikar (2005 to 2011), Smt. Sujata Mohapatra (2012 to 2019), and Rekha Tandon. Her art finds grounding the Alexander technique and yoga, somatic approaches that have been part of her life for 20 years. Initiated to western classical singing by Stephanie Piercey and Jonathan Voyer, Sonia considers herself a dancer-musician; through body percussion and voice, movement goes hand in hand with sound as an all-encompassing form of expression. This dialogue in sound and movement is part of her artistic research and reflected in her productions. At the heart of her practice is an ever-renewed dialogue between traditional Odissi repertoire, which she performs and teaches, and the ongoing creation of contemporary works.
The work Chitrangada (2010) an intricate interweaving of dance and storytelling, lead to a unique form of presentation and was said to be alluring and charming. Aarti (2012) and "La Maille" (2016), works intersecting choreography and installation with shadow puppetry and textiles, were experiences described as sensory meditations instilling calm and a « freedom from the overload ». The duets Arūpa and Mystique 2.0 (2019) were created with two co-choreographers. While the first explores memory and geometry the latter is a playful conversation celebrating friendship.
As an educator, Sonia is committed to promoting the arts and increasing accessibility of dance in Canada. For the past decade she has provided artistic experimentation opportunities as a teacher at the Académie de danse de l’Outaouais and through the Odissi Dance School initiative. She facilitates workshops in schools and communities through the netwoks of MASC, ELAN and the Ministry of Education Culture in the School program.
Contributing to the artistic community, Sonia has been a board member of the production center L’Avant-Première, co-founder of the housing cooperative Les Artistes du Ruisseau and co-founder of Yuva Mahotsav, Canada’s first festival dedicated to youth engaged in the practice of Indian dances. She collaborates at various levels through conferences or professional development activities with Sampradaya Dance, Menaka Thakkar Dance company, Nova Dance, Aroha Fine Arts, Kalasadhana and Sadhana school of Indian Arts.
She has presented in theatres, festivals and art galleries in Canada and abroad in venues such as the Odissi International festival in India, Galeria Rosenblueth in Mexico, the Kalanidhi Fine Arts and Alliance Française in Toronto, Tangente, Nuit Blanche (Gesù) , Festival Accès Asie and Kabir Centre in Montreal, the National Arts Centre, the Ottawa Dance Directive, Festival of India, ArohaFest in Ottawa.
Bruce Cawdron has been making music in the Montreal scene since the late '80s. He is a founding member of many influential and acclaimed bands such as Godspeed You Black Emperor, Esmerine, and Set Fire To Flames. A Polaris Prize (2012) and multiple Juno award-winning (2014, 2016) instrumentalist and composer, Bruce has written music for many film (including Cannes award winning Madame Tutli Putli) and dance projects. He now lives near Wakefield, Qc.
Chantal Labonté is a graduate of the University of Ottawa theatre department and the production program at the National Theatre School of Canada (NTSC). She works in theatre, dance and opera both in french and English. She has been awarded two Rideau Awards for best lighting design of the year for the production On Verra produced by Théâtre du Trillium in 2016 and Les Passants co-produced by the GCTC and la Catapulte in 2017. Parallel to designing, Chantal tours internationally with la Compagnie Marie Chouinard.
Julie Beaulieu is a dancer, researcher and teacher. She holds a master's degree in dance from the University of Quebec in Montreal and has started a doctorate in studies and practices of the arts (UQAM). Disciple of Vidwan Rohini Imarati, she periodically stays in India in order to perfect the art of Bharatanatyam, to offer performances and to create new choreographic creations. In 2010, Julie co-founded Saṃskāra: les artisans du passage with the musician and researcher Jonathan Voyer. She is an associate member of the Center for Studies and Research on India, South Asia and its Diaspora (CERIAS) and a member of the International Dance Council CID.
Anjali Patil is a dancer-choreographer trained under renowned masters of classical Indian dance Kathak. She is founder and artistic director of Aroha Fine Arts, one of only a handful of organizations working in the professional Kathak dance milieu. Anjali performed her works at noteworthy events - from the Canada Dance Festival to Delhi International Arts Festival, the Junos to International Film Festival of India. Her speaking engagements include the Dance Department at Hyderabad University, India, and the National Centre for Performing Arts, India. Anjali teaches in Canada, India and the Middle East. Anjali produces ArohaFest - Canada's first bilingual festival celebrating arts of India in Canada.
David López and MrPazzo Studio
David López is a freelance photographer and videographer. He has a Bachelor degree in Sciences and Techniques of Communication (1997). Since 2004, he developed interest and experience in shooting photography and videography for dance artists and companies. Sonia St-Michel (2004-present), Upasana Dance Company (2005 to 2011), Aroha Fine Arts (2013-present). He carries out research projects in several parts of the world for his productions (Mexico, Guatemala, Europe, India) He works closely with his brother Hugo López from MrPazzo studio in Mexico City.
Hugo Lopez is a graduate from the Visual Communication program at the University of Communication. He specializes in audiovisual production and has gained experience working with production and advertising agencies, corporate clients, animation studios, film and production houses. In 2007, he founded the audiovisual production studio MrPazzo Studio developing a client base in Mexico, Canada and Switzerland.
Sangeeta Raju is an emerging Odissi dancer and multimedia artist. She began practicing Odissi at the age of 8, has performed in Canadian cities (Ottawa, Toronto, and Halifax) and in her parents’ home state of Andhra Pradesh in India. She completed a Bachelor in Information Technology from Carleton University specializing in Interactive Multimedia and Design (2019). Having practiced artistic expression in its various manifestations, Sangeeta seeks to push the boundaries separating a performing artist from a visual artist from a technologist in order to create multi sensory experiences for both the artists involved and the audience. A mentee of Sonia St-Michel she is also training with the Odissi Dance School.
Sonia is thankful for the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts et lettres du Québec, the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, the City of Gatineau and the Académie de danse de l’Outaouais.
She thanks her educational partners, the Ministère de l’éducation et l’enseignement supérieur, Ministère de la culture et des communications and ELAN.