Branch Collective Members
Mikaela Demers was born in Elliot Lake and spent her childhood first in Copper Cliff, and then on Manitoulin Island. Upon graduating from high school, she studied dance in Sudbury at Sudbury Secondary School, Sudbury School of Dance, Dance Evolution, Diane Boulais Studio de Danse, Arts North and with earthdancers. The time spent in Sudbury drastically changed her perspective and desire to pursue dance as a career. Since she has earned a BFA in Dance from York University and works in Hamilton, ON as a performer, creator and producer. In spite of being based in Southern Ontario, Demers has a constant desire to remain an active member of the community that inspired her to continue to dance. freewaterforartists.com
Born and raised in Sudbury Ontario, Lauren Foy was introduced to dance at the age of 3. Her choreographic debut began shortly after that, presenting many short and full length shows in her family’s living room and at BBQ’s. From that point on, Lauren knew she was going to be a performer. She graduated as a bursary student from the Professional Training Program at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre in 2002. Lauren formed elleQ dance factory, to support her choreographic work, and since then created two full-length shows - including The Imagination Project, which was supported by the Ontario Arts Council. As an independent artist, she has created for festivals, theatre, music videos and film. Lauren has been a dance instructor in Sudbury for 15 years. When she’s not in the studio, you can find her thrifting, tending to her garden, reading, eating cookies or spending time with her beloved husband and 6 year old son.
Sudbury-born, Heidi Strauss has danced with companies in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and abroad. She has been commissioned by/choreographed for Toronto Dance Theatre, Mocean Dance, The Frankfurt Opera, The Canadian Opera Company, Volcano, and the Stratford Festival. Through adelheid she develops new performance works, and initiates programs for other artists, which currently include re:research, (for emerging dance creators) and Digital Strategy Fund supported Cohort (for makers integrating digital technologies into creation). Her film collaborations have been screened at dança em foco (Rio de Janiero), nu2’s IDN festival (Barcelona) and d:mic (Toronto). Heidi is a recipient of the KM Hunter Award for Dance and multiple Dora Awards. adelheid.ca
Denise 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. She furthered her studies in dance with courses in Halifax, Toronto and Copenhagen. Denise has been teaching in Sudbury for 33 years, opening her own studio in 1984. She performed liturgical dance as part of a Huntington University lecture series and went on to perform and choreograph liturgical dance for many churches in the Sudbury area. Since 1984, Denise has choreographed numerous musical theatre productions for Theatre Cambrian, including Hair, West Side Story and My Fair Lady. In 2005 Denise received Northern Life's Community Builder's Award for the Arts. Denise holds an Advanced Teacher's Certificate from The Society of Russian Ballet and is currently an executive member and examiner for The Society. Denise is currently teaching at Thorneloe University in the theatre program. She is also the artistic director of earthdancers and she continues to perform - most recently with Adelheid, elleQ Dance Factory and YES Theatre. sudburyschoolofdance.com