Wednesday, August 10, 2022

"It’s not about connecting steps together, but directing bodies in space to create my own story."

Minuet Charron is a dancer and choreographer who expresses her art with an array of styles from ballet to hip hop. She recently attended a Choreography Intensive and has graciously sent us an update to share her experiences there. For more about Minuet, visit her website or follow her on Instagram.


"In July, I spent ten days in Dayton, Ohio, at Regional Dance America’s National Choreography Intensive (NCI) as an emerging choreographer. This annual intensive is catered to the creative development and practice of emerging and established choreographers, while it offers a stream  for dancers to train and learn movement from the choreographers. I enjoyed lectures covering the foundations of music history and workshops in choreography and how to create and play with  movement. 

A great portion of the program was Pablo, director of music, teaching us about music and how  that relates to dance. I learned random history tidbits, a few musical terms that kind of sound funny to me (polyphony for one), and communal speculations of what it really means to be an  artist who creates art. 

Every day, we had a specific assignment, commonly associated with the musical era we had  covered that morning. Some days there were restrictions of the movement (e.g. only standing, only gesture phrases), others had specific goals (use of cannons, choosing a theme, partner work), and some gave us specific music pieces/genres to use. Afterward, we’d have about an  hour and a half with a new group of dancers each day to create. At the end of each day, the dancers showcased all the choreographers’ pieces and then we sat down with the directors to  speak about how the process went. 

I think one of the greatest elements of the intensive was that we were just there to play. And I don’t mean that in a lazy, not doing any work kind of way, I mean it in a curious, freeing, creative type of way! There was no weight of perfection on creations. They weren’t expected to be finished nor cleaned from top to bottom. The purpose was to try things and to experiment.  And it truly was a laboratory for us choreographers. Even when there was a dance I’d  choreographed that I thought happened to be lackluster or wasn’t anything like my other work, I still felt satisfied that I did something new … either out of my element, out of my comfort zone, or something I never thought that I would do myself. I think that’s super cool.  

There were twelve emerging choreographers (including myself) and I have never felt so connected to a group of humans in such a short amount of time. Many of them I felt as if I’d  known my whole life. Perhaps it had something to do with being in a room of like-minded  individuals, all very different people when you look at our personalities, likes and dislikes, but  our passion and our creativity is what brought us together. Not a moment was boring with my fellow choreographers; when we had spare time, we created random phrases, improvised for  hours, gave each other little improv tasks, and one day we made our own t-shirts just for the fun of it.  

Penny, the director of choreographer, highly encouraged us to come into each dance rehearsal  with little to no material pre-made. That was hard for me. Coming in, not unprepared, but not  already set in exactly what was going to happen in the studio. She spoke about choreographing and the magic of creation happening in the studio with the dancers, not just assigning the steps and counts you wrote in your notebook to them. It was about trusting your creativity and leadership skills, trusting that you knew what you were doing and didn’t have to rely on over preparation. And then, allowing the dancers to influence the movement. One thing Penny said  that specifically stuck with me was, “You’ve spent your entire life training to dance the way you do. You can’t expect someone else, who has been training their entire lives to dance the way they do, to be able to move like you.” Which is to say, utilize the dancers and their bodies, talents, and styles to your advantage … give them your vision and leadership, while allowing their own  interpretation. As a choreographer, I learned that it’s not about connecting steps together in an eight count but directing bodies in space to create my own story. And to trust my ability as a choreographer along with trusting my dancers’ abilities. 

I learned a lot from my peers. Which, I believe, is a unique experience. I feel special to have had such amazing dancers alongside me at the NCI. One of the most educational parts was conversing about our choreographic processes. I’ve never been in a room full of choreographers before, and I’ve always been so curious about how other people create. It’s truly something that cannot be taught. Sure, creativity can be practiced, honed, guided even. But I don’t think you can teach someone to be creative. It was interesting talking to others who struggled with aspects of  choreography I felt comfortable with and vice versa. And it was amazing to see the growth and  changes that occurred in each of us in only a week and a half.  

Overall, my experience heightened my interest in choreography, and solidified my heart’s need to create art – specifically in dance. A big thank you to NSTT for supporting my choreographic studies this summer!"

To see a video of Minuet's incredible choreography, click here!


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Wednesday, August 3, 2022

"Breathe" - A Collaboration of Poetry and Percussion

Composer and tubist Hope Salmonson is a gifted artist whose music is inspired by community and her connection to others.  Also a Talent Trust scholarship recipient, Hope's works have been performed by many groups on several stages, including the Ensemble Allure, the andPlay Duo, and the Mount Allison Elliott Chorale.  She recently participated in the 2022 LAMP Composition Academy where composers were challenged to write for an ensemble and a randomly selected poem from Michelle Sylliboy's "Kiskajeyi - I AM READY".  Hope talks about her experience: 

"When I was informed that I received "Breathe" and percussion, it struck me funny—coincidental that an ensemble that doesn't use breath would be paired with this text. I decided to incorporate breath into the piece itself by making group breathing a core part of the tempo and metre. In sections of the work, the percussionists will not follow a set tempo, but they will 
guide the music as they inhale and exhale. This, to me, was the way to do justice to Sylliboy's words in this context.

Michelle Sylliboy's poem "Breathe" can be found in her full collection, "Kiskajeyi - I AM READY" at bookstores and online. I heartily encourage any listeners and players to engage with her work; while this poem was my primary inspiration, I developed my compositional ideas in conversation with the full text and Michelle herself; the collaborative spirit is key to my experience of this music.

Many thanks to the Nova Scotia Talent Trust and the Bragg Women Music Opportunities Fund for supporting my journey to creating this music."

For more about Hope and her music, please visit her website





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Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Gina Burgess Album Release!

Congratulations to Gina Burgess who celebrated the release of her new album, "ISNOW" with a performance at the Local Halifax on July 21st!

Gina received Talent Trust scholarships in 1995, 1999, 2000, and 2007 for her incredible Violin music.  She is now an accomplished performer, crafter, yoga instructor and music teacher. She travels all over the world to perform, collaborate, and teach.  Gina has become a sought after soloist and educator across Canada and beyond. Together with the other members of "Gypsophilia", Gina is a 4-time ECMA winner and was also nominated for a Juno for her work with the Iqaluit-based band "The Jerry Cans". 

She has collaborated with many other groups and artists, including Kanye West, Maria Osende Flamenco Co., Shauntay Grant, Dinuk Wijeratne, Erin Costelo, Hey Rosetta!, Joseph Petric, the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, Rich Aucoin, Duane Andrews, NAFAS, Symphony Nova Scotia, Lily Frost, DJ Spooky and Alex Conde.

From Gina: "Without the Talent Trust's support when I was growing up in NS studying classical violin, I wouldn’t be doing what I am now. Ever grateful."

For more about Gina's music releases and performances, visit her website.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Two must-see art shows before July ends!

The province has come alive with art shows, festivals and concerts, and it feels SO good!  There is so much to do and see, but there are two fantastic shows we want to highlight before they are over:


Making it Right - Ice House Gallery


Former Talent Trust scholarship recipient Brandt Eisener is the curator of  The Ice House Gallery in Grace Jollymore Arts Centre.  The Gallery is featuring the show "Making it Right" with works by Louise Pentz and Carole Morrow, with guest potter Karyn Hollasch.  This powerful show explores themes of social justice, capitalism, colonization, discrimination, hurt, healing, and forgiveness.  Each piece makes its own important statement.  

Also part of this show, the piece "Undercover" was created by Louise Pentz and Brandt Eisener and represents the pressure queer men face to hide parts of themselves, preventing them from expressing who they are with the world.  This show will take your breath away and make you look deep within to reflect on the themes explored.  See it before it is over, it ends July 24th!



Contrast to Connection - Tides Contemporary Art Gallery


Anna Syme, a recent Talent Trust scholarship recipient, is the featured Guest Artist at the Tides Contemporary Art Gallery.  Anna's work explores themes of connections, loss, understanding, and growth through interdisciplinary visual art pieces.  


Her current show, "Contrast to Connection" features her most recent art created through the lens of her own personal growth.  This growth was influenced by her year away from home and the resulting change in perspective.  Anna's work is incredible - each time you look at a piece, you will see something new.  This show runs until July 31st, see it while you can!




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Wednesday, July 13, 2022

"Sharing what I love with the world" - checking in with Maggie Oates-Johnson

Maggie Oates-Johnson won the Talent Trust Robert Jackson award in 2017 and has dazzled everyone ever since with her passion and drive for dance.  The Talent Trust scholarships Mollie has received each year since then
have helped her pursue her dreams at the Alberta Ballet School and develop her incredible talent.  We recently caught up with Maggie to see what she's been up to:

What is your earliest memory of dance?


The earliest memory of dance is when I was four years old, peeping in the studio door watching my sister’s ballet classes, while I am trying to do all the moves in the hallway in my little pink tutu.

What (or who) inspires you? 


What inspires me is seeing the strength and unique talent in each artist, and how they push through all their challenges to achieve their dreams and goals.


What is your greatest accomplishment to date? 

My greatest accomplishment is taking the risk in moving away from home, despite my fears, to pursue my dance dreams at a professional ballet school, and sticking with it even though it is sometimes scary and uncertain. I feel I am now thriving in my ballet school and this was absolutely the best choice for me in order to keep progressing with dance.

What is the most challenging aspect of your art?  What brings you the most joy?

The most challenging aspect of my art is not taking dance obstacles, critique, and rejections personally or defining myself based on them…but instead, using them to learn and grow, while also appreciating all other aspects of my life that make me who I am. The greatest joy with my art is the privilege and honour of performing on stage and sharing what I love with the world.

What is your biggest dream in pursuing your art?

My greatest dream in performing my art is to find my way into a professional dance company that is a good fit for me and where I feel fulfilled.

Thank you to Maggie for taking the time to update us.  We can't wait to see what the future holds for you!

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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Heating up summer with "Smokey Sessions" featuring Breagh Isabel!

This month, Ski Cape Smokey in Cape Breton will be hosting a summer concert series called Smokey SessionsThe concert is scheduled for July 29 and is expected to be the biggest on-stage performance in Ingonish history.  The first of three concerts will have Gordie Sampson and Jimmy Rankin headlining the show, joined by former Talent Trust recipient and current Board Secretary, Breagh Isabel.

Breagh worked with Gordie Sampson at his songwriters' camp in Ingonish in her younger years.  In 2013, Breagh won the CNSLC Emerging Artist Scholarship for jazz piano.  She went on to collaborate with Classified to write and produce the hit "Good News", which was released in 2020 and nominated for 9 ECMA awards in 2021. 

Breagh's music has also made its way onto TV and film soundtracks, including Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Episode 11 which features "See the Sun", co-written with Hunnah and Peter Groenwald.  Her song "SOS", co-written with Margot Todd and Nini Camps can be heard on the Season 2 Premiere of Batwoman.

Her most recent hit single, "Girlfriends" was released in 2021 and won SOCAN's Songwriter of the Year Award in 2021 and Song of the Year at the ECMA's in 2022.  


To experience Breagh's wonderful talent, the concert series in Ingonish is not to be missed!  Get your tickets, enjoy a gondola ride up the mountain, enjoy the beautiful island view, and take in some amazing music by some of Cape Breton's most iconic songwriters.

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Thursday, June 16, 2022

Grants & Funding for emerging and professional artists

The Talent Trust is committed to supporting emerging artists in any way we can through funding, mentorship, collaboration, and promotion.  Each year, we provide scholarships and special awards to emerging artists to help support the cost of their studies.  We know this is a big help to each recipient, but we also recognize that there are other expenses or projects that may need support.  Have a look at the funding opportunities below, you or an artist you know may be eligible!


Arts Equity Funding Initiative

This program helps emerging and established professional artists from designated communities who have historically faced barriers to accessing funding support. Designed to support artistic growth, development, production and dissemination, the initiative is available to the following designated communities of artists:

  • Indigenous (Mi’kmaq as well as other First Nations, M├ętis and Inuit)
  • African Nova Scotian
  • Black
  • Racialized people of Asian, Latin American, Middle Eastern, or mixed racial descents
  • Artists who are deaf, partially deaf, or hard of hearing
  • Artists who have disabilities
  • Artists who have mental illness or are mad-identifying

Create - up to $15,000: supports projects to develop or create new work

Present - up to $12,000: supports the public presentation of artists’ work.

Professional Development - up to $12,000: provides funding to strengthen artistic or administrative capacity through formal study programs, mentorship, workshops, apprenticeship, conference, and other professional development activity.

The deadline to apply for this grant is September 15, 2022. 


Mi'kmaq Arts Program

The Mi’kmaq Arts Program supports the development and continuation of Mi’kmaq art forms in the territory of Mi’kma’ki (Nova Scotia). Arts Nova Scotia recognizes the specific needs and practices of the Mi’kmaq arts community and acknowledges a new funding program is required. 

Arts Nova Scotia aspires for all Nova Scotians to have opportunities to engage with the art forms that derive from Mi’kmaq language, world views, practices, and protocols.  Nova Scotia-based Mi’kmaq artists, groups (including ad-hoc groups) or organizations are eligible to apply. It is important to be recognized as an artist in the Mi’kmaq community as Peer Assessment Committees consider community connections. 

Creation Grant - $500 - $15,000: Assists with projects that involve the creation of a new work of art in any form including cross-disciplinary or multi-disciplinary work(s).

Presentation Grant - $500 - $12,000: Assists with projects that involve public presentation of artistic work(s).  

Professional Development Grant - $500 - $12,000: Assists with projects that involve activities intended to strengthen artistic or administrative capacity through formal study programs, mentorship, workshops, apprenticeship, conferences and other professional development activities.

In addition, applicants can be awarded in the same 12-month period as a Creation, Presentation or Professional Development grant a Visual Arts Materials Grants:

Visual Arts Materials Grant - up to $750: Assists artists working in the visual arts, crafts or traditional/customary art forms to create artwork. Grants of up to $750 are to help cover the cost of buying art materials and supplies.  This grant is intended for artists who in need material support only. 

The application deadline is September 15, 2022. 


Music Performance Trust Fund Scholarship Initiative

Music Futures Scholarship, open to students who do not have a family member affiliated with a musician’s union but who are pursuing degrees in music. This is the revitalization of a scholarship originally offered by the MPTF beginning in 1996.  There will be 30 scholarships of $2500 each awarded this year.

Scholarship applications are open June 1, 2022 to July 15, 2022.


Hot Docs: Film Funds

Hot Docs is dedicated to advancing and celebrating the art of documentary. Through its Film Funds, Hot Docs provides documentary makers with development, production, and completion grants, as well as professional development opportunities. Applications are currently being accepted through the following programs: The Hot Docs-Slaight Family Fund supports filmmakers telling engaging, high-quality stories that embrace music artists in all their forms and that demonstrate Canadian music's role in the world. The Fund also welcomes international music stories told through the lens of Canadian filmmakers. Grants ranging from $15,000 to $60,000 are provided, along with creative and professional development support. The Hot Docs Ted Rogers Fund provides production grants of up to $20,000 to Canadian documentary filmmakers. In order to be eligible, applicants must be a corporation unaffiliated with any licensed network or programming undertaking. The deadline to apply for both of these programs is July 27, 2022.


Bloomberg Philanthropies: Asphalt Art Initiative

Bloomberg Philanthropies' Asphalt Art Initiative seeks to help cities use art and community engagement to improve street safety and revitalize public space. The Asphalt Art Initiative grant program funds visual art, typically painted murals, on roadways, pedestrian spaces, and public infrastructure in cities, with the following primary goals: improving street and pedestrian safety, revitalizing and activating underutilized public space, and promoting collaboration and civic engagement in local communities. The Initiative is currently accepting applications in Europe, and will provide up to 20 European cities with grants of up to $25,000 each, as well as on-call technical assistance. Eligible sites should be on or adjacent to active roadways, and may include crosswalks, intersections, vehicle/parking lanes, plazas, sidewalks, or transportation infrastructure such as traffic barriers, highway underpasses, or utility boxes. All cities in the continent of Europe with at least 100,000 residents within the administrative division of the city are eligible to apply. The application deadline is July 11, 2022.


Nova Scotia Talent Trust scholarships will be open in January 2023.


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