Inside a Dance Studio is a blog hosted by Pegasus Studios with the aim of celebrating, discussing and learning about how dance can help support and foster healthy and happy children, adolescents and adults. This blog is inspired by our experiences as teachers and owners of Pegasus Studios, a dance studio primarily dedicated to art and health in children, from the ages of 2-20, give or take a few years!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Thank You

Hello everyone! Dances of Offering was a success again this year, thanks to all of you who supported us. We had an almost sold out show and raised a lot of money to donate to a terrific cause. We at Pegasus would like to take this time to extend our gratitude to everyone who aided us in our efforts this year.

First, we would like to thank everyone who attended, bought tickets but could not attend, or made donations online. We could not continue to put together a show like this without all of your continued support and encouragement.

Secondly, thank you to all those who donated their time and energy to rehearsing and preparing for this year’s show. You all performed beautifully and it was a pleasure to work with each of you.

Thirdly, this show has always been about bringing together dance artists of all stages and genres, and we would never be able to do that without the enthusiasm of the teachers, choreographers, organizers, and students here at Pegasus. Each one of you has contributed countless hours to making this show such an amazing celebration of dance and we are extremely grateful.

We would like to extend a special thank you to Adam Nashman for all of his help during the tech runs. You made the day run much more smoothly that it would have otherwise and we appreciate all of your efforts.

Next, to all of the students and teachers from Crescent Town Public School, Holy Name Elementary School, and Selwyn Public School who participated in our educational outreach concert programs last Tuesday, we thank you for sharing in the many gifts dance has to offer. We were so glad that you all enjoyed your time here at Pegasus and we hope to keep in touch and collaborate again in the future.

I have some personal thank you’s to extend as well, especially to Jane, Janice, Lisa, and Lia, who helped me every step of the way as I fumbled along trying to figure out how to run a social media campaign. Your endless encouragement and assistance made it possible for me to put this together. I hope you feel that it paid off in the end.

I would also like to thank my beautiful dancers, Kiersten McMaster, Vanessa Medeiros, and Alison Keery, for all of the hard work you put into bringing my ideas to life. I am so grateful to have been able to work with such willing and open hearted people and I can’t wait to work with you again!

Everyone at BOOM! Marketing, thank you so much for sharing our event with your audience. It is nice to know that wherever life takes me, I can come home to my family at BOOM! and receive a warm welcome and continued support. Fabio Buritica, I would especially like to thank you for all of your help in planning the online efforts for this event. I wouldn’t have known where to begin without your help.

Maja Zonjic, thank you so much for donating your time and efforts in taking pictures during the tech run. I can’t wait to see them and I’m sure they will turn out beautifully.

Most importantly, to my family and friends who stood by me through the times of stress and uncertainty: I’m not sure how I got so lucky as to have you all in my life, but I know that I would not be where I am today without your undying love and positive reinforcement. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Finally, thank you to all of you who have followed us along the journey. I never expected such a warm response and I thank you for taking the time to read these blogs.

So until next time, goodbye!


Jessica Houghton

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Time to Grow: My Choreographic Journey

After hearing all the other choreographers talk about their processes in developing their pieces for Dances of Offering, it made me reflect upon my own process and how I have come to create my piece.

The dance that I choreographed last year for Dances of Offering reflected upon a personal experience that had impacted me greatly. It was an extremely emotional piece: a duet with myself and Alison Keery (who we heard from a couple weeks ago) that represented a particularly distressing event in my life and the struggle involved in moving past it. I used that piece as a part of my healing process and being able to explore and share those emotions helped me a great deal. This year I wanted to move in a different direction. My piece, entitled A Time to Grow, reflects images and movement found in nature.

Exploring the movement quality of plant life and the growth that is occurring around us all the time proved to be an interesting pursuit. My initial inspiration came from watching footage from the BBC series “Planet Earth” of plants growing and blooming at high speed. The quivering, vibrating, and constant nature of their growth was so compelling that I couldn’t help imagining how I could interpret that movement with dance. The images in my mind of people blooming and growing and constantly yearning for the sun excited me a great deal and I found myself unable to think about anything else.

Planet Earth: Seasonal Forests
Flowers opening their petals to the sun

When I began choreographing, I started to worry that people might not be able to convey that same energy and vibrancy that I saw in the plants. I wondered if it was possible for us to understand and communicate with human emotions the feelings and sensations of beings that are often considered to be completely different than ourselves. I could only hope that the dancers I had asked to take part in the piece would help me find a way of embodying these feelings that I was uncertain how to present.

In my first meeting with my fellow York dancers, Alison Keery, Kiersten McMaster, and Vanessa Medeiros, I felt it was necessary to share with them the videos that had first inspired me to create this piece. Hearing their feedback and seeing that they shared my vision of how exciting it would be to explore these new movement possibilities encouraged me and gave me new hope. When we began to work on choreography I saw that they needed no explanation or clarification regarding how to convey the emotional qualities of the plants, it came naturally with understanding the material and embodying the movement.

Kiersten McMaster, Alison Keery, Jessica Houghton, Vanessa Medeiros
Dancers opening their petals to the sun

Now that the piece is finished, we continue to grow together as an ensemble, each planting seeds of inspiration in each other while cultivating and nurturing our individual and collective “tree of life”. Any fears I once had about our ability to express the abstract emotions of plant life were dispelled as it became clear to me that yearning, blooming, and especially growing, are emotions that we can all relate to, and it appears that life can always be considered as A Time to Grow.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Guest Artist and Choreographer: Nicola Pantin

Dances of Offering promises to be a spectacular show this year. It is our 10th anniversary and we’ve put together a show filled with beautiful pieces from very talented choreographers. One of our choreographers, Nicola Pantin, has shared some behind the scenes information with me about her choreographic process. Here’s Nicola!

Hi Nicola, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Nicola Pantin
Nicola: I trained from the age of five in ballet, jazz and tap in Waterloo at three dance studios. Fell in love with contemporary dance upon moving to Toronto in 1990 and I've been working as an independent dancer, choreographer, and teacher ever since. My latest choreographic gig was a co-production of the musical Seussical for YPT (Toronto) and the Citadel (Edmonton). Upcoming is choreography for a show called the Musical of Musicals for theatre New Brunswick and Henry V for Stratford. I'll also be dancing with Creative Habitat in February for Sick Kids. 

It sounds like you’re very busy, and yet you’re choreographing a piece for Dances of Offering this year! What is the concept for the piece you are choreographing this year?

Nicola: The piece is loosely about two groups of schoolgirls- the mean girls and perhaps what you may call the outcasts: a little moment in how they relate and react to one another.

How did you decide on this concept?

Nicola: I explored some movement and character work with my seven dancers and they seemed to gravitate towards two types of characters. I wanted to present something that they could relate to, that was age appropriate and that they could help be a part of the creative process. 

What have been some of the challenges you have faced in the process?

Nicola: I did not know my dancers well but I wanted to use their abilities, age and experiences appropriately. I set some movement on them and also set up scenarios that I thought were appropriate. Then I used their input to create a theme.  At first, time seemed to be on our side, but once I got to know my dancers, I wished we had more time to explore and refine the piece. We found ourselves at a loss for rehearsal time. However, I feel that we discovered that we'd like to continue to explore these movement themes and concepts as a company in the future. I never expected such generous input from such young dancers. I feel blessed and encouraged by their input. 

Could you tell us about your other piece in the show?

Nicola: The other piece in the show is called The Table Dance. My husband is directing and I'm choreographing and dancing. We are reworking the first six minutes with three new dancers on very little rehearsal - seems to be a theme!

Why did you want to be involved with Dances of Offering?

Nicola:  I used to teach for Pegasus years ago (haha I even taught you!)  I really believe in the school and their mandate. And of course all of their causes are worthy and well thought out. Jane and all the Pegasus staff and family (I taught all three daughters of Jane’s daughters) have also always been very supportive to me as a teacher and an artist. It seemed only fitting to give back when I can. 

Thank you Nicola for taking the time to share with us! I personally can’t wait to see your pieces in the show!

Be sure to buy your tickets for Dances of Offering to see Nicola’s choreography and performance. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

I Can Dance: Rebecca Beayni

Today I would like to share with you all a special story about someone who has opened my eyes to new possibilities for dance. Rebecca Beayni, Anna Bruno, and Heryka Miranda have co-created a piece and are performing it for Dances of Offering this year. I have had the pleasure of seeing the piece and I am eager to share a part of it with you all. The piece is performed by Rebecca and Heryka, while Anna reads aloud a poem that Rebecca wrote about her experience of life in a wheelchair. The poem is entitled “I Can Dance” and I have included it in the blog below. First, Heryka has shared with us some insight into how the piece was choreographed:

“The choreography from Rebecca's poem 'I Can Dance' comes purely from her relationships with each of her dance partners. Together we co-create a series of moments led by our collective impulses, intuition, wheelchair exploration and play. Each dance partner accompanying Rebecca in sharing her poem has had to learn to be still, in order to connect with her unique impulses that come through a breath, a gaze or slow head movements or sharp subtle gestures. These co-creative processes inspire themes, colours, moods, and of course, important messages through the body, in the moment.”

Anna Bruno tells us more about the poem to which the piece is performed to and how the poem was written:

“I Can Dance was written as a piece for Rebecca to express the depth of experience and capacity living within her that others on first glance often fail to see. As Rebecca communicates mainly through expressions and the common knowledge that comes through deep relationships, it was important that the poem really was a collaborative effort. While it may have been recorded by one writer the phrases were a collection of expressions, stories, and ideas shared by many people who know Rebecca well. In drawing upon the perspectives of many, we are able to more closely come to understand the complex, and unique individual that Rebecca is and therefore better reflect this in creating a poem as she would have written.”

Rebecca Beayni and Anna Bruno

And now, “I Can Dance” by Rebecca Beayni:

Me dance?
Who, me?
Freely, whirling, with grace

And a teacher too
Teacher of life
Teacher of joy
Spreading laughter in the midst of
Bombs clashing and words which strike us.
Advocate of strong will and continued hope.

I am a voice
Sometimes fun, silly
Sometimes certain, firm
Working for justice
Working for peace

A strong spirit, a woman of faith.
I live my faith
I dance it.
And I dance…

I dance for joy in life’s gifts
I dance in sorrow for friends lost

I am a friend
The bonds I make are rooted
Deep within.
These bonds weaving a web,
A network
A heart network.
I am a connector
Bringing people together
Bringing people to encounter
A way of just being
People transforming
When I dance
I dance

Dance is often expected to involve expansive and dynamic movement: an art form that by its very nature requires the use of the full range of the body’s physical and expressive capability. Rebecca challenges this definition by showing us all that dance can be so much more than that. Her movement may be different than what is typically seen on dance stages, but it is no less important, valuable, or beautiful. She demonstrates to us that although our society has taken steps towards making the buildings around us more accessible to people with physical disabilities, we still have a long way to go before art is accessible to everyone. I am proud to be a part of a community that is so accepting and open to new possibilities, and am grateful to be able to share in this evening of education and enlightenment. This piece has changed the way that I think about dance, and I hope that you all can approach it with an open heart and mind and enjoy the beautiful gift that Rebecca has shared with us.

To see Rebecca perform this beautiful piece, come see Dances of Offering on February 12th at the Betty Oliphant Theatre. Please visit for event information and to buy tickets.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Dances of Offering Update!

Hello everyone! Everyone here at Pegasus is thrilled with how generous you have all been in supporting our benefit concert, Dances of Offering. So far we have sold 80 tickets to fundraise for the building of Toronto East General’s new paediatric ambulatory clinic.

We are so grateful to everyone who has supported us this far, and we encourage those of you who haven’t bought tickets yet to buy your tickets soon before they sell out! This year’s Dances of Offering promises to be a wonderful evening, where we can all share in the gift that keeps on giving: dance.

To buy your tickets, go to:, and don’t forget, you can also make a donation to our cause on the event website even if you are unable to attend the show!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Inspire the Growth and Health of our Children

Dances of Offering is fast approaching! Today we have a special blog post from Toronto East General Hospital, explaining the many benefits of building a Paediatric Ambulatory Clinic and providing even more inspiration for those of us who are involved in this fundraising event.

The first of our two-stage renovation of the Paediatric Ambulatory Clinic is scheduled to open this fall. Located on the main level of the Hospital, the new Clinic will feature a welcoming reception area, five examination rooms, a breastfeeding clinic and an interview room. The key five programs offered as a part of the Paediatric Ambulatory Clinic will now be located in one space, offering convenience for parents and families and collaborative environment for Medical Staff.

At Toronto East General Hospital, we understand that some of the most fragile members of our community are our children. In fact, more than 20% of the emergency visits at TEGH are paediatric. By addressing a full spectrum of childhood and youth health concerns, TEGH is playing a vital role in providing better care and enhancing the health of our young patients.

Our plans are to consolidate the outpatient programs at TEGH and create one destination for paediatric care at the Hospital. Once completed, the Paediatric Ambulatory Clinic will be easy to access and will work collaboratively to ensure seamless delivery of care.

“A new Paediatric Ambulatory Clinic will allow us to consolidate services to provide a more efficient and welcoming environment for the patients and families we serve.”
-          Dr. Constantine, Chief, Department of Paediatrics

Paediatrics at TEGH

* TEGH’s Emergency is the only community hospital emergency department to enter into an affiliation agreement with SickKids Hospital, which enables TEGH to treat children with the same care protocols and standards used in the ER department at SickKids.
* TEGH is designated as the Regional Paediatric Centre for South East Toronto.
* TEGH is designated as one of five Regional Centres for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.
* TEGH offers a level II Special Care Nursery for infants who require monitoring, incubation, isolation and short-term ventilation.
* TEGH is the only Hospital in Toronto to be designated as “Baby Friendly” by the World Health Organization & UNICEF.


Thank you so much TEGH for caring about the children in our community. To buy your tickets for Dances of Offering and support this amazing cause, visit The show is on February 12 at 5:00pm at the Betty Oliphant Theatre. We hope to see you there!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

From A Choreographer's Perspective - Bonnie Gaztambide

Our blog today takes a look into the process of developing Bonnie Gaztambide’s piece for Dances of Offering. I had the honour of interviewing her and hearing what it’s like to work with the whole Pegasus Performance Group.

Jessica: Tell me about yourself, your background.

Bonnie: I’m a dancer and choreographer, from Boston originally. I’ve been working with the PPG dancers for three years now, and I love it. I love their energy and they are very talented. I love the Pegasus community.

Jessica: What is the title of your piece this year?

Bonnie: Surge

Jessica: What is the concept?

Bonnie: The piece is about water and in particularly about flooding.  The beauty and the power of water. It's about loss, survivors, and the importance of community. Water as a life necessity, water as a relaxing, cleansing space to release tension. Water as destructive and surprising force. Water as a surge that can whisk our life away in an instant. Water is powerful and ominous. Something so awesome, and yet something those of us who have it in abundance, take for granted. 
The story is mostly for the dancers. To infuse their movement with not just steps, pretty lines, awesome jumps, turns, flips and counts, but to use imagery, videos and stories to help tap into their emotions, their feelings, their frustrations and their own passion.

Jessica: How many dancers are in your piece?

Bonnie: 22. The entire Pegasus Performance Group.

Jessica: What is it like to work with a large group like that?

Bonnie: It was a challenge mostly because of number of dancers. I wanted to do a group piece using the entire cast. Personally I enjoy seeing all the different stages, ages and abilities on stage. It was a different working process for them than in previous years because they would have to sit and watch at times.  Obviously I couldn’t work with all 21 at the same time, so I would send some of them off to another studio to work on material and to clean sections together. They had to learn how to work as a team. I also invited them be “collaborators” with the piece, in terms of sourcing movement. Some things we kept and other things we edited. The older PPG dancers helped A LOT and were amazing role models. 

Jessica: How did you arrive at the concept for your piece?

Bonnie: I guess I was inspired by the music first. “All Fence No Doors” by Rising Appalachia.  R.I.S.E is a female folk band from Atlanta, Georgia that recorded a piece back in 2005 about Hurricane Katrina. As we know, flooding happens everywhere, all over the world - the devastation and cost to people's lives it havocs is unfathomable. 
Personally I like to do dances that have a story. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the audience has to get the story, but it gives the dancers something to think about so it’s more part of their essence, why they’re moving. They’re moving because they have some image in their head of a floating body or the water rising.

Jessica: How do you feel about the process so far?

Bonnie:  Overall, I feel that the PPG dancers have done a FANTASTIC job and continue to inspire me each rehearsal. I feel very blessed to be a part of their lives and dance training. Pegasus is a beautiful place. 

Bonnie Gaztambide leading rehearsal with the PPG
Thank you Bonnie for this enlightening look into the mind of a choreographer! If you would like to see Bonnie's piece in Dances of Offering, visit for tickets!