Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Natasha Torres-Garner – Chair

As an emerging dance artist, I was involved in the inception of Young Lungs Dance Exchange. At the time, those involved had come together, to allow the challenges of creating and presenting new work, to be something we carried together, ensuring that the load could feel lighter. We aimed to create a format where everyone could enjoy and feel supported through their individual creative explorations. The strong sense of community, and the empowerment gained in my experience as a young artist supported by Young Lungs Dance Exchange, has encouraged me to stay involved as a board member for the past 15 years. I continue to stay motivated as a board member, recognizing that in order to create diversity in artistic voices, there needs to be a place that is safe, supportive and encouraging for people to take the risks necessary to move forward in their artistic interests. I find immense satisfaction in knowing that this is what Young Lungs Dance Exchange strives to do.

Natasha Torres-Garner started her performance career in contemporary dance in 2002. She has performed with Montreal’s Fortier Danse Création, Bill Coleman, in repertoire by the late Jean-Pierre Perreault, as well as Toronto’s Marie-Josée Chartier. Natasha’s long dedication to the independent community in Winnipeg has meant working with Winnipeg’s Tom Stroud, Out of Line Theatre, TRIP Dance Company, Treasure Waddell, Alison Robson, Johanna Riley, Alex Elliott, Ali Robson, Leigh Anne Parry, Danielle Sturk, Ming Hon and Mia Van Leeuwen. As a choreographer Natasha Torres-Garner has presented solo and group works locally and internationally, including Winnipeg, Regina, London(UK), Toronto, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Dresden, Germany. Throughout Torres-Garner’s experience she has received mentorship from the late senior choreographers Rachel Browne, as well as Davida Monk, Serge Bennathan, Karen Kuzak, and Tom Stroud. Torres-Garner has been involved in initiating a number of collaborative teams as well as collective presentations, including The Rite Productions, the Momentum Collective and Weather Parade Dance Theatre. Her commitment to collaborative forces was initiated by being a founding member of Young Lungs Dance Exchange.

Johanna Riley – Vice Chair

When we began Young Lungs, we were a group of newly emerging artist who were facing a lack of traditional employment opportunities, as well as a strong desire to create our own work. It is extremely difficult for young artists to gather the resources, skills, and confidence to continue in their craft, so we decided that we would band together to make it happen for all off us. Through Young Lungs I was able to continue to develop every aspect of my artistic practice as a performer, educator, and choreographer, as well as gaining additional skills in production, grant writing, and other areas that have served me well throughout my career. I want Young Lungs to continue to be that resource for movement artists of all disciplines and career stages.

Johanna Riley has been a professional dance artist for a decade and a half.  A graduate of the Professional Program of the School of Contemporary Dancers, Riley has performed independently for choreographers and multidisciplinary artists in Winnipeg, Calgary, and Montreal.  She was a company member with Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers for twelve seasons, with whom she performed the work of many renowned choreographers, including Rachel Browne, Serge Bennathan, Peggy Baker, Sasha Ivanochko, Susie Burpee, Sharon Moore, and Roger Sinha. She is a co-founder of Young Lungs Dance Exchange, an organization which has worked to support new dance and multidisciplinary creation Winnipeg since 2004. As a choreographer, Riley has created over a dozen original works, and been presented by several organizations, including Nafro Dance Productions, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Young Lungs Dance Exchange, School of Contemporary Dancers, Momentum Collective, and Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers. Riley is on the faculty of the Professional Program of the School of Contemporary Dancers, teaching dance technique, setting original repertory, rehearsal directing, and mentoring emerging choreographers.

Ali Robson – Treasurer

I have been involved with Young Lungs since 2005. I began performing and creating work for YL production series, working as a stage manager on some shows, volunteering and helping to produce others. It allowed me to explore a wide range of artistic possibilities, helped connect me to an amazing group of artists in Winnipeg with whom I could exchange skills and ideas. More recently I joined the board and have worked as a mentor for artists working in The Research Series. I am excited for the direction Young Lungs is headed and the new boundaries being pushed and defined by the artists who engage with Young Lungs.

Ali Robson is a dancer who works in both dance and theatre and is curious about collaborating across disciplines and creating work with and for people of all ages.She has worked as a dancer, teacher, rehearsal director, movement coach and collaborator since 2004 with many artists including Lesandra Dodson, Danielle Sturk, Brenda Mclean, Tom Stroud, Natasha Torres-Garner, Treasure Waddell, Alexandra Elliott, Susie Burpee, and Debbie Patterson. As well with companies such as, EDAM Dance, TRIP dance company, and Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers. She is the Associate Artistic Director of Company Link, is a board member for Young Lungs Dance Exchange and teaches movement for actors at the University of Winnipeg. Ali is a collective member of Weather Parade Dance Theatre with Natasha Torres-Garner, who presented I Trace You, You Trace Me, an intergenerational performance with performers ranging in age from 5 to 55 in the summer of 2018. I

Zorya Arrow – Director

As an emerging movement based artist in the early 2010’s Young Lungs Dance Exchange proved to be an amazing resource for me in finding and developing my artistic voice in creation and my place in the dance community here in Winnipeg. Since joining the board in 2014, Young Lungs continues to connect me with the arts community. I find fulfillment in being a part of an organization that is offering movement based opportunities to artists through research, workshops and discussion. Young Lungs holds a critical place in Winnipeg’s arts community as a connector, connecting artists from across Canada and of intersecting art forms, enriching the dialog around dance and movement based arts practices.

Zorya Arrow is a dance-theatre artist who’s obsession with authenticity drives her work. As a choreographer/directer she has created over ten original performance works, presented by Young Lungs Dance Exchange, Nova Dance Collective and Company Link. She directed Heavenly Bodies (Happy/Accidents) and assistant directed Deserter (Moving Target Theatre Company). Working as a dancer/actor, this year’s highlights include; Rencor Vivo (The Mariachi Ghost, Halifax), Hamlet(The Knavish Hedgehogs), Scopophobia (Lasha Mowchun’s new film), A Short History of Crazy Bone (Theatre Projects Manitoba), and Flesh + Machine (Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers). Arrow holds an Honours degree in Dance from the University of Winnipeg in affiliation with The School of Contemporary Dancers Senior Professional Program, and additional training in clown as well as devised and physical threatre. Currently she is working as choreographer for a production of The Threepenny Opera (Sick + Twisted Theatre and AA Battery Theatre), opening February 2019.

Alexandra Ramos completed the 3 year professional program at Les Ateliers de Danse Moderne du Montreal Inc. (LADMMI). After apprenticing for the touring show of Jean Pierre Perrault ‘s JOE she went on to complete her studies of Sociology at McGill University graduating with distinction.
Following her graduation she worked in the Commercial Production Industry as a freelance Assistant Producer. An opportunity then arose to teach Latin and Ballroom Dance. Married and pregnant she and her husband made the decision to move to Winnipeg to start a family. Throughout her life she maintained a physical connection to the world by participating in various activities be it sports or adventure racing and her desire to push herself to her physical limits has been a driving force.

I first became actively involved with Young Lungs Dance Exchange (YLDE) as a written essayist for their 2017 Research Series and have been smitten ever since. YLDE has the rare ability to be a malleable arts organization, responding to the fluctuating means through which contemporary performance work is researched, created, discussed, performed, and disseminated. What began as an act of bravery and independence by a collection of emerging dance artists 15-odd years ago has since grown into a beacon of support for interdisciplinary creation. YLDE’s programming is acutely aware of capitalist pressures in regards to production and consistently validates the need for research time and the benefits of work-in-progress showings. YLDE invites criticality, curiosity, and reflection through hosting free discussions, workshops, and showings. I hope that YLDE can continue to strive towards inclusive and accessible programming and resources while staying porous to where dance and performance exist in the greater performance milieu.

Jillian Groening is a Winnipeg-based dancer and writer. Groening has performed with Gearshifting Performance Works in Jolene Bailie’s Phase Wash (2018), Rachel Browne’s Sending Love (2018), Bailie’s Happyland (2016), and has toured to Vancouver and Toronto with Bailie’s work Hybrid Human (2013, 2016), a collaboration with visual artist Wanda Koop. She has also performed in Marie-Josée Chartier’s petit danses (2017) and Pablo Bronstein’s Peony Unfurling at Various Speeds in Shopping Mall (2017), as well as presenting her own performance work through Plug In ICA, the late CSPACE gallery, and Jazz Winnipeg. Groening has received mentorship with artist scholars and performers Jeanne Randolph and Helene Vosters through MAWA (Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art). Groening and collaborator Natalie Baird were the 2016-17 recipients of Video Pool’s New Artist in New Media Award and presented their dancefilm, Ode, at Platform Gallery (2017) and at WNDX Festival of Moving Image (2018). Groening is currently the engagement editor at The Dance Current and has had her writing published in a variety of publications including Dance International, Format, The Uniter and The Dance Current. She holds a BA(Hons) in Dance from the School of Contemporary Dancers in affiliation with the University of Winnipeg.