Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Bretten Hannam: FIN Film Fest Maker & Mentor

Bretten Hannam received a Talent Trust scholarship in 2006 and has become a successful filmmaker whose films deal with themes of community, culture, and language with a focus on Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ identity.  Their films include "North Mountain" which won Best Original Score at the Atlantic Film Festival and the Screen Nova Scotia Award for Best Feature, and "Wildfire" which premiered at BFI Flare and played at Frameline LGBT Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival, ImagineNative, and InsideOut LGBT Film Festival.  

Bretten directed and co-produced the short film "Mawitai'kw" which will be screened during the Atlantic Shorts Program 1 at the FIN Atlantic International Film Festival.  This film tells the story of Two-Spirit people across Wabanaki territory who overcome distance, isolation and a pandemic to unite as a community and share perspectives.  You can buy tickets and see screening dates/times for the FIN Film Festival here

Bretten also hosted the RBC Script Development Program, where four writers were selected by a jury based on their feature film outlines.  The writers then worked with Bretten through virtual weekend sessions and a pitch workshop to prepare to pitch their feature film ideas to a panel of industry professionals at the FIN Makers RBC Emerging Artists Project Script Pitch Event.  Cited by FIN as "one of Canada's top story editors", Bretten continues to impact the film industry with their own films and through the mentorship of other emerging filmmakers.  

Bretten is a Fellow of the Praxis Centre for Screenwriters, Outfest Screenwriting Lab, Whistler's Indigenous Filmmaker Fellowship, and the CFC Screenwriter's Lab.  For more about Bretten, visit their website. 


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Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Talent Trust alumni nominated for the Music Nova Scotia Awards!

The Nova Scotia Music Awards recognize the achievements and contributions of our music and industry professionals and leaders from across Nova Scotia over the past year. These awards celebrate the people and companies who are working to build a strong and vibrant Nova Scotia music community.

Talent Trust alumni were well represented in this year's nominations:

Reeny Smith

Nominations: African Nova Scotian Artist of the Year; Musician of the Year

Reeny received a Talent Trust scholarship in 2010 and 2012 for Jazz, and was the 2010 recipient of the Portia White Award.

Tim Crofts (member of Trio Chimera)

Nomination: Classical Recording of the Year

Tim received a Talent Trust scholarship in 2002 for composition and is a member of the Trio Chimera along with Fran├žois Houle and Norman Adams.

India Gailey

Nomination: Classical Recording of the Year

India received Talent Trust scholarships from 2015 to 2020 for cello. She was also the recipient of the Lih and Marion Kuo Award in 2017 and the Raymond Simpson Award in 2020.

Jennifer King

Nomination: Classical Recording of the Year

Jennifer received Talent Trust scholarships in 1992 and 1993 for piano, and has become established herself as a sought-after talent across Atlantic Canada.

Cassie Mann

Nomination: Musician of the Year

Cassie received Talent Trust scholarships in 2019 for composition and 2020 for music technology. She sings, plays bass and synth with a variety of groups and works behind the scenes as a sound tech, videographer, bass teacher, video editor, and graphic designer.

The Music Nova Scotia Awards will be presented on Sunday, November 6th, 2022 as part of the 25th Anniversary of the Nova Scotia Music Week (NSMW). To see the complete list of nominees, please visit the NSMW website.


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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Joyda Parry: the Talent Trust's very first Dance Scholarship

Since 1957, the Talent Trust has given out 540 scholarships to gifted dancers who have gone on to develop their skills and build successful careers in performance and teaching. The very first dance scholarship recipient was Joyda Parry, a ballroom dancer who received the scholarship in 1957. Here is a snapshot into her exciting career.

In the November 1959 issue of Crowsnest Magazine, Joyda Parry's work as a ballroom dancer and instructor is highlighted: 

A large number of Shannon Park children, ages eight to 16, have been enrolled to study dancing under Joyda Parry. These dancing classes are designed for children who have never had any basic training in dancing. The director's aim is to teach, all the necessary fundamentals of ballroom dancing, with a special emphasis on social etiquette. The types of dancing include foxtrot, jive, waltz, folk and square dancing. At the end of the season, the pupils will present a recital for their parents and friends. 

Joyda Parry is an official examiner and member of the Canadian Dance Teachers' Association, a member of the Imperial Society (England), a member of the International Dance Masters' Association (England), and dance adjudicator, Official Board of Ballroom Dancing. She is a fully qualified teacher of ballroom, Latin American, and folk dancing, having studied in North America and abroad. 

Last year Mrs. Parry was chosen to represent Canada in world championship ballroom dancing in London, England. She has been seen many times as principal dancer on the Don Messer and other television shows.

She is also pictured in the September 1960 issue of Ballroom Dance Magazine when she and dance partner Basil Valvasori won first place in the Richardson Cup demonstration at the Star Bell in London.  They attended the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters Instructors' Conference which is described in this article, and gives a snapshot of what this training looked like in 1960: 

Scene was the very grand Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton Towers Hotel. From 9 in the morning until 10 at night, a floor full of teachers, from Washington State to Pennsylvania, from Canada to Mississippi, had themselves a great time studying a wide variety of material presented by a distinguished faculty.

During the preceding Training School and in the ensuing Convention there were other ball­room  classes, which added to the faculty list the names of Muriel Mills, Mrs. Theron Mandeville Woolson,  Louis Girard and James Lackey.

Among our hospitable guides were Adele Artinian, who was just winding up  two successful terms as CNADM President: Marie Buczkowski, the association's newly elected President; Edna Christensen,    Sec'y-Treas.; convention managers Don Ford & Jack Wolf­ ram; ballroom chairman Grace V.  Hansen: principal Elisa  Stigler; and, of course, this publication's  Midwest representative, Louise Ege.

Next summer the CNADM is expanding the popular Ballroom Workshop to two days. For the one-day  sessions in Chicago and regional meetings during the coming season, lots of ballroom is promised.

No more can be found Joyda Parry's career just yet, but the search continues! It is amazing to go back in time and get a peek into the artistic journeys of our early Talent Trust recipients!

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

"Directing bodies in space to create my own story" - Minuet Charron

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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