ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & FOUNDER
Dr. Alina Sotskova, R. Psych.
Photo credit: Ian Sparks
Alina studied different forms of dance since four years of age in Crimea, former Ukraine. After immigrating to Canada as an adolescent, her connection with dance was interrupted. She returned to dance years later to focus specifically on studying contemporary dance, ballet, and pointe, although she is always interested in discovering new ways of moving. Alina’s approach to dance is integrative and contemporary in nature. She has performed in a number of contemporary and ballet works in London, ON, Victoria, BC, and Vancouver, BC. She has presented original modern and contemporary pointe choreography in collaboration with Victoria Dance Theatre, Dance Victoria, Flux London Dance Festival, and Broken Rhythms, and has worked with community organizations, such as UBC Centre for Brain Health and H. R. MacMillan Space Centre, to create unique events the feature new ways of presenting dance and art works.
Alina also holds a PhD in clinical psychology and is a Registered Psychologist in British Columbia who works with adults, couples, and groups. You can find out more about her practice here. Her previous studies in existential philosophy and her career in psychology continue to create spaces for intersections between psychology, philosophy, dance, and other art forms. The themes that typically influence her work in movement and performance art include the psychology of subconscious conflicts, existential themes of thrownness, chaos, and connection in relationships, and the dialectics of freedom and responsibility. While dance is one form of her artistic expression, work in photography and visual art also shapes Alina’s approach to choreography and communication through movement. Alina’s goal is to continue to collaborate on transdisciplinary, accessible projects with artists that rely on multiple forms of media to connect with one another, with the audience, and with the larger community.
If you have ideas for collaboration, you can get in touch with Alina, you can message her here.
Our Consultants have diverse backgrounds across different disciplines in arts and sciences. Consultants lead major Voirelia projects and shape the vision of what Voirelia is today and we strive to become in the future. They contribute to Voirelia’s growth and development and influence Voirelia’s aim and vision.
Consultant (Dance, Philosophy): Carolina Bergonzoni
Photo: Yvonne Chew
Originally from Italy, Carolina is privileged to be a dance artist and scholar based on the unceded Coast Salish territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. She holds a BA and an MA in Philosophy from the University of Bologna (2011 and 2013) and a Master’s of Arts in Contemporary Media Arts from Simon Fraser University (2015). She is certified as a Teacher in Community- Engaged Dance Educator; since 2011, she has been working toward building communities of movers and thinkers, with people from 0 to 99+ years old. Carolina was artist-in -residency and artist-in-community at the Roundhouse Arts and Community Centre and she taught on the faculty of Anvil Centre and Shadbolt Centre for the Arts.
Carolina’s work has been presented as part of Festivals and Events including Vancouver Fringe Festival, Dance in Vancouver, BC Buds, and Dancing on The Edge. Carolina continues to perform, create, and spread her love form movement as an independent dance artist; she is currently working as Artistic Associate for the integrated dance company All Bodies Dance Project. Carolina strongly believes in the need to pair academic work with community engagement. In addition to being a Core Consulant with Voirelia, she is volunteering on the Board of Raven Spirit Dance (Chair) and Vines Art Festival (Secretary), F-O-R-M. To learn more about Carolina, see her website: carolinabergonzoni.org
Consultant (Dance): Sophie Brassard
Sophie Brassard is a francophone dance artist based in Vancouver, Canada. She graduated from Simon Fraser University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Contemporary Dance and a minor in English Literature. Since graduating, Sophie has interpreted works for Dezza Dance, Foolish Operations and most recently, for Voirelia. She has also choreographed works for Vines Art Festival, Leg Up! Performance Series and MascallDance’s Bloom Series. Aside from performance and creation, Sophie is also currently working for two local dance and theatre agencies: Belsher Arts Management & Fascinator Management. She is also the program coordinator for Made in BC – Dance on Tour’s Des arts dehors / Arts Outside program for francophone dance artists. Sophie is looking forward to helping out with future Voirelia projects! You can find out more about her by visiting her website at www.sophiebrassard.com.
Consultant (Dance): Alejandra Miranda Caballero
Photo credit: Jack Sommer
Alejandra Miranda was born in La Paz- Bolivia, where she started dancing ballet at the age of 7. She stopped dancing for some years, but was re-inspired by Truddy Murillo to make the decision of becoming a professional dancer. This came at the age of 19. The following years she travelled to Cuba and Argentina to continue her training in different contemporary techniques as well as ballet. Back in Bolivia, she started as an apprentice with Gaviota Dance Company and the Guayruru Project. She moved to Vancouver and did two seasons with Lamondance where she danced pieces by Davi Rodrigues, Monica Proenca, Lara Barclay, Shannon Moreno, Dario Dinuzzi, and David Northworthy. She also did an apprenticeship with Olivia C. Davies for Open Fire for Dancing on the Edge 2016. During this training period, Alejandra discovered a great curiosity for improvisation and contact improvisation. She is a really curious person when it comes to bodies in movement and how momentum travels, creating a non-stopping flow of natural movement. Alejandra completed Training Society of Vancouver’s scholarship in the fall of 2016 and participated in Bloom, by Mascall Dance during the summer of 2017. Alejandra is involved in several on-going Voirelia projects, such as Physics and Psychology project.
Consultant (Concept Development/Business Strategy): Ian Cunningham
Ian is a strategic consultant and the founder of Lansdowne Solutions. He contributes a blend of knowledge and experience based in the fields of innovation strategy and digital design. In his work with non-profit organizations and new startups, Ian helps clients focus on their audience, understand the unique value they have to offer, and craft programs that serve the needs of the client’s constituency. Ian has been working with Voirelia Core team to refine and advance our concept, vision, and goals. To learn more about Ian’s work, check out the website for Lansdowne Solutions: www.lansdownesolutions.com.
Outside of his business and technology work, Ian’s artistic hobbies have included occasional explorations into playing guitar and sketching with pencil and ink, in addition to becoming a regular participant in salsa and bachata social dances.
Consultant (Psychology/Dance): Gaby Hanga
Gaby holds an M.A. in Clinical Psychology, and has recently immigrated from Israel to Canada. Throughout the past 5 years, she has gained clinical work experience with youth, families, and young adults, in a variety of settings including hospital, home-care, and educational institutions. Her passion lies in continuing this line of therapeutic work with vulnerable populations. Gaby is also highly interested in scientific research focused on the development, implementation, and evaluation of various psychological interventions aimed at alleviating difficulties and promoting well-being.
Growing up in Israel, as a child and adolescent Gaby was immersed in the dance world, and has undertaken rigorous ballet and contemporary classes from the age of 6 until the age of 18, when she was drafted to the Israeli Army. She has returned to this field several years later, and nowadays is mainly involved in contemporary dance. Her style and approach to dance have been mostly influenced by renowned dance companies such as Batsheva and KCDC. As dance and psychology are two major influences which have shaped Gaby’s life, she is drawn to explore the intersection between these two worlds, and especially the role that dance and art play in enhancing well-being.
Consultant (Dance): Rachel Helten
Rachel Helten is an emerging dance artist, choreographer, and teacher currently based on the unceded indigenous land belonging to the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō (Stolo), and Səl̓ílwəta/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. (Vancouver, B.C.). In 2016, she completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance at Simon Fraser University. Although movement is Rachel’s main mode of expression she has an affinity for collaborative and interdisciplinary methods. Rachel’s work is often charged with a curiosity of how we interact and respond to our real and imagined worlds and how vulnerable states can transform and liberate us. In like manner, Rachel has been blessed to be a part of processes that nurture these fascinations with a vast array of artists. Her desire to aid in the emancipation and healing of herself and others has intimately transformed her artistic practice and lead her to various corners of the earth. Rachel gleaned insight from teaching dance at an art therapy centre in Quito, Ecuador. In addition, she trained in Florence, Italy in a process facilitated by eminent dance innovators from around the world. This past year she was granted the gift to explore the energies of South America in Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina. During her time in Buenos Aires she trained and collaborated with artists while creating a solo dance piece inspired by the energy of the terrain and people she met. She desires to honour our histories, frequencies and the poetry of nature through her work. Rachel extends her profound appreciation to her mentors, family and friends for their love and support and for all those who have helped shape who she is today.
Consultant (Science): Jason Kirkness
Photo credit: Alina Sotskova
Jason was born and raised on a farm just outside of London, ON, where his love of science and science fiction was well supported by the ever-present library of novels provided by his parents. The inspiration that he took from the science fiction genre was that of optimism and limitless possibility, which has shaped his view on life. His formal training came later in life as he returned to school and attained a Bachelor of Science in Physics with a minor in Computer Science at the University of Western Ontario. His exposure to the arts scene is new, but he has thrown himself in, showing interest in new ways of communicating interesting and complex scientific concepts to a larger audience through art. He is looking forward to collaborating with other scientists and artists to further his knowledge and understanding, while offering his own insights, ideas, and experiences to help further the work here at Voirelia. If you are interested in topics related to communicating modern physics, renewable energies, and combining these themes with art or increasing public awareness, get in touch with Jason. He can be contacted via the Voirelia facebook page (click here).
Consultant (Dance/Art/Science): Sarah Louadi
Photo credit: Erik Zennstrom
Sarah recently completed her Master’s in Experimental Medicine (UBC), studying the interaction between protein aggregates and the brain immune cells in Alzheimer’s disease. Sarah continues to work in this line of research. She has a passion for artistic expression and science communication, and aspires to learn about the different ways that the arts can contribute to healing. When she is not in the lab, she enjoys reading fantasy books, planning her next cosplay, painting (oils, acrylics, mixed media) and dancing (salsa, bachata, burlesque, belly dance). Sarah has worked in multiple projects in the University of British Columbia, such as acting in and designing the costumes for a student-led musical in residence, planning speaker series and workshops for 5 years with the Mental Health Awareness Club, and leading a summer Art Therapy Program at the South Granville Seniors Centre in 2015. She was the co-lead for the creation of the dance portion for the Universe of the Brain (see Events section). You can check out her blog here and connect with Sarah here.
Consultant (Photography): Ian Sparks
Ian’s keen eye and desire to produce outstanding photographs has been his focus since receiving his first camera over 25 years ago.
His talent lies in photographing people. Ian’s work takes him from weddings and portraits, to highly dynamic environments including dance and theater. He has worked with Victoria Dance Theatre, Broken Rhythms Victoria, and independent dance artists to create dance- and fine art works of photography. Ian and Alina Sotskova have enjoyed a productive and long-standing collaboration on a number of dance, composition, and fine art photography projects.
Although based in Victoria, Ian regularly travels throughout the Island and the Lower Mainland. He shoots interior and exterior, day or night, and enjoys unique and challenging locations. Ian’s work can be seen in the photography section of the Voirelia website and his website can be found on iansparks.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consultant (Dance): Carolyn Schmidt
Carolyn Schmidt is in a long term relationship with human movement. As a Stretch Therapist, dance artist and movement instructor, Carolyn brings a lifetime of experience, passion and curiosity to each session and class she leads. Carolyn began dancing as a kid on Vancouver Island and went on to complete her professional training at The Ailey School in NYC. Her dance career has taken her to the USA, Europe and Australia where she has performed, taught and studied with diverse dance professionals from around the globe. Carolyn continues to teach and choreograph contemporary dance in the Vancouver area and is active in artistic projects and dance education initiatives. Carolyn is the owner of Vault Movement Projects and regularly hosts dance and movement workshops and events around Vancouver. Carolyn completed her Fascial Stretch Therapy training in Arizona with Ann and Chris Fredrick. Carolyn also has received training in Kinesiology from the University of Calgary, and is trained in the movement system of Countertechnique as well as Pilates and Alexander Technique. In her Stretch Therapy practice, Carolyn works with dancers, athletes and the general public to help them recover from injuries and gain healthier range of motion while empowering stronger body awareness and fluid movement.
Voirelia’s works are largely project-based and can range from public lectures to dance performances to interdisciplinary science communication events. As such, we work with many different independent artists, dance and arts organizations (e.g., Broken Rhythms Victoria), scientists, psychologists, mental health clinicians, educational institutions, and community organizations, (e.g., H. R. MacMillan Space Centre). Get in touch with us if you are interested in collaboration!