Portal Dance

The Returned is a new contemporary dance film that seeks to understand the time and place in which we currently live, as well as the time that came before. Portal Dance dancers uncover these “fossil memories” by exploring shades of memory, forms of recovery, cellular history, individual body maps and what haunts us as humans. The two rivers of Guelph foster, motivate and inform some of these meanderings. Recognizing the potency of the area where they intersect as a historically rich site for Indigenous and Settler folk alike, these rivers root the dance work to Guelph and also manifest the concepts of time passing, form changing and water potentially returning after circling the earth. Stellar, ‘locally-sourced’ dance artists Drew Berry, Lily Burpee, Julia Garlisi, Ben Harvey, Rowen Pilon-McBride, Megan Robinson and Kelly Steadman provide this abstract work with a depth of sensuous understanding, unveiling the timeless heart of humanity. Flanked by outstanding supporting artists: composers Jeff Bird & Ben Grossman, filmmakers Dawn Matheson & Jenn Norton and costume designer Dakota Burpee. The Returned is a film about where we are as a collective species, where we might have been and where we could be going. It is about fiercely looking life in the eye while connecting to the footsteps of those that existed before.

“…sometime it’s enough To lie down here on earth Beside our long ancestral bones: To walk across the cobble fields Of our discarded skulls, Each like a treasure, like a chrysalis, Thinking: whatever left these husks Flew off on bright wings.” (Rebecca Elson)

Portal Dance, a contemporary dance company created in 2011, is comprised of professional dance artists from the greater Guelph area who bring a rich variety of experiences and integrity to the company. Portal Dance is interested in cultivating and stimulating community and collective expression through shared artistic experiences. Portal Dance’s work is invested in communication, collaboration and research into our journey as individuals in this time and place but as well as how we operate as a collective. Portal Dance is passionate about the development and enhancement of the arts scene in the Guelph area and nurturing both its artists as well as its community.


Drew Berry, Lily Burpee, Jason Doell, Julia Garlisi, Ben Harvey, Rowen Pilon-McBride, Megan Robinson, Kelly Steadman & Xuan Ye

Thank you to Jan Sherman, Lynette Segal, Laurence Lemieux and Citadel & Compagnie, Lynn Broughton, Andrew McCormac, Nicholas Rocha, Sara Starling, Rose & Doug Burpee, Edie McGovern, Nick Depencier, Gabe Thurow Smith & Emmett Bradshaw Dance, the Guelph Youth Dance Training Program, the Guelph Arts Council, the Royal City Mission Church and the SEED. The Returned was made possible in part by the financial assistance of the Ontario Arts Council & the City of Guelph Musagetes Foundation.

Photo by Lynn Broughton

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