Dancers' Studio West Society (DSW)

we serve these populations

    Dance moves us.
    DSW invites you to embrace this spirit: to react, question, feel, share and respond, to engage in the dance. We invite you to truly experience performance, to be affected each time you come to the theatre.
    DSW – never leave unchanged

    I have attended lots of performances presented by DSW over the past 5 years and in that time I have witnessed many positive developments in both the dancers and the presentations. At DSW performances I am drawn irresistibly into the world of the dance through the enhanced strengths and focused intent of the dancers. I really enjoy watching the development of the young choreographers as they show their works at the beginning and then at the end of mentored workshops.  Consistent hard work in the creative process has obviously translated into aesthetically rewarding performances for the dancers and for me as an audience member. As a life-long eclectic arts-lover I have seen that every art form needs individuals or organizations with the vision to expand the frontiers of that form. DSW must be commended and celebrated for doing that in Calgary.

    Audience Member: Sondra Corff, PHD.,  life-long eclectic arts-lover

    DSW is the only organization in Calgary that offers consistent professional development programs for dance professionals in contemporary dance, so I value it greatly. It is a forum where community building takes place, every experience offered by DSW helps me to connect with other artists in the community (from dance or other genres), as well as with artists outside the community. It helps me to feel a part of something greater than myself. It has always served as an important conduit for the vital transition of being a student/ emerging artist and entering phases of development that lead to becoming an established and more accomplished artist in the professional community locally and nationally. Without DSW I would not have been able to accomplish as much as I have in my professional career.

    Participant Artist: Helen Husak, Lieutenant Governor’s Award Winner

    I consider my varied experiences at DSW to be invaluable, there is no comparable programming available to me as a dance artist in Calgary. In 2014 I became a member of the Dance Action Group, I was mentored in a choreographic process by Davida Monk, I’ve taken morning classes through DSW, attended performances, discussed work at talk backs and at the undressing the dance series, and worked as an outside eye for the Alberta Dance Festival. These experiences have developed my technique, my choreographic eye and improved my ability to communicate verbally about the art I’m creating and viewing. Most importantly DSW has given me the chance to share my experience with other artists, be influenced by their unique perspectives and connect with artists I haven’t worked with in the past.   The most significant positive aspect of my experience with DSW is constant learning and growth. Each experience at DSW is a tool that fuels me as an artist and challenges my perspective allowing me continue to develop.

    Participant Artist: Catherine Hayward

    What about Dancers’ Studio West?

    I have been a practitioner, advocate and champion of Calgary’s arts since early 1980. During that time I have seen the remarkable growth and vitality of Calgary’s artists contribute to the quality, character and economy of our City. It makes me proud. But while other genres of arts practice have shown resilience, dance continues to lag behind its colleagues in Calgary and the Province. Dancers and dance companies seem isolated. Taken individually, the diverse work of our dance artists excels artistically, but contemporary dance has yet to take its place in the arts lexicon in the same way as theatre, music, film, and visual art. This situation became clearly evident to me while I was Managing Director at Calgary Arts Development. It was during that time that I became more acutely aware of the work being done at Dancers’ Studio West under the artistic leadership of Davida Monk. I had a few occasions to have in-depth conversations with Davida about the state of contemporary dance. I was impressed by the clarity of vision on behalf of both DSW and the contemporary dance community as a whole. With the courage and energy of the organization and with Davida’s leadership, Dancers’ Studio West is building a vision that contains the promise of propelling contemporary dance to its deserving place in the cultural life of our community. It is for this reason that I am proudly serving on the Board of Directors for Dancers’ Studio West.

    Board of Director: Tom McCarthy

    In the 2014-15 season, DSW launched the Dance Action Group (DAG).  DAG is a small ensemble of aesthetically diverse performer/choreographers under the direction of Artistic Director Davida Monk, committed to, and experienced in, DSW’s approach to artistic rigour and critical dialogue.  In addition to forming the artistic core of the Dance Action Lab, the members of the Dance Action Group co-operate to fulfill opportunities for community development and organizational support.  Throughout the season, the members of DAG will be active in organizing and leading of Critical Dialogue Series, in co-curating and co-hosting of community work in local studios, and in offering outside eye services.

    Dancers’ Studio West Society Season:

    • Undressing the Dance Dialogues – Between September and March, DAG members animate a series of six public discussions of specific works seen in Calgary, or selected topics of dance aesthetics and creative practice.
    • Annual Alberta Dance Festival (September): DSW’s annual favourite, the two-weekend festival features fresh contemporary dance created by Alberta choreographers.The artistic purpose of the Annual Alberta Dance Festival is to provide a range of aesthetically diverse choreographers, including emerging artists, with creation and performance opportunities; to integrate the outside eye services of DAG in the development of the work; to engage the public in discussions around the work, and to build artistic relationships among artists of all levels of experience. The Festival productions are very popular with our contemporary dance audiences.
    • Cross Fertilization Informal Co-Presentations  (February): In collaboration with the Artistic Director of a local dance studio, members of DAG engage in a month long outside eye process that culminates in two evenings of in-studio showings and conversations between dance artists of different levels of experience and different aesthetics.  The aim to this program is to build critical facility among the youngest creators in all dance disciplines and to stimulate interest among these young artists in further artistic development and in DSW opportunities.
    • Dance Action Lab (June) The Dance Action Lab is a model of complete professional engagement and is highly rewarding for the artists and audiences.  The Dance Action Lab provides 10-week contracts for a company of eight dancer/choreographers The Dance Action Group. The Lab focuses on choreographic responsiveness and productivity, accelerated mentorship, sustained professional experiences, and the development of artistic critical facility and articulateness. The Dance Action Lab provides a much needed professional opportunity, brings the creative process to audiences in public presentations, stimulates discussion about dance making and seeds work destined for presentation opportunities beyond Calgary, including the Prairie Dance Circuit. Two dancers supported by the Royal Bank of Canada Emerging Artists Award program will complement the artistic core. Additional members of the community may be engaged by DAG to participate as dancers, may make application to the Dance Action Group, or apply to the Young Artist Exchange program.
    • Classes and Workshops (September and April – June): Lead by Artistic Direcor, Davida Monk, classes emphasis choreographic sensibilities, musicality, expression and performance.
    • Outside Eye Service Throughout the year, DAG members offer a free outside eye service to interested choreographers.

    FOR ARTISTS  DSW emphasizes the quality of the creative process and invests in the growth and development of contemporary artists through residency programs, classes, and critical dialogue.

    • Classes This somatic, easeful approach is open to all levels of experience and fitness levels. All paid events can be pre-purchased online in advance, or you can drop in and register at the door at the time.
    • Critical Dialogue This Series promotes deep consideration, dialogue, thought, articulation, and questioning of artistic practice in a unique system, centred around the creator. This process immerses the choreographer in another side of the creative process with the opportunity to talk about the work in three primary areas of exchange: 1) mentorship; 2) facilitation; and 3) audience engagement.
    • Outside Eye Services because sometimes you just need some fresh eyes. DSW’s Dance Action Group members provide this free service to choreographers in Calgary and Edmonton. Any interested choreographer may apply online at

    1. Support DSW with an annual membership DSW Membership Link Here.

    2. Come to a performance: DSW’s upcoming DANCE ACTION LAB – June 25, 26 ,26 2015 at the Victor Mitchell Theatre, Pumphouse Theatres – DSW Dance Lab Link Here.

    3. Attend an ‘Undressing the Dance’ Dialogue – DSC connections on Facebook Link Here.

    4. Donate or Sponsor an Event – Sign up for DSC News & Events Here.

    5. Volunteer – Contact DSW here


    Are you a Calgary Foundation Fundholder?

    Contact Info

    Dancers' Studio West Society (DSW)

    Davida Monk



    More Info


    Visit our Website