Shameka Blake and Riley Sims: Recipients of the 2017/18 Dance Ontario Creative Partnerships

Jul. 04, 2017

Dance Ontario's Commissioning Committee (Jesse Dell, Tina Nicolaidis, Lola Ryan, Ofilio Sinbadinho, Jennifer Watkins) has selected Shameka Blake of Artists in Motion and Riley Sims of Social Growl Dance as the recipients of the Dance Ontario Creative Partnerships for 2017/18. These unique artists will present world premieres at DanceWeekend's 25th anniversary edition at the Fleck Theatre, Harbourfront January 19 -21, 2018.




Shameka Blake will present Child Soldier, set in a remote village in Kenya. In collaboration with Krump choreographer Amadeus" Primal"  Marquez, Blake will bring an urban take on a serious political issue.

Blake is the 2015 Black Canadian Award recipient for Best Urban Dance Act. In 2008, she founded Artists in Motion (AIM), a multi-disciplinary dance company, that bridges cultural and societal gaps by bringing different styles of dance under the same roof. Shameka also created the dance and arts event "1234", to encourage collaboration among fellow artists and explore different avenues of artistic expressionism; a platform for artistic unification across the GTA. With a unique style of choreography and creative vision, Shameka Blake is one of the top influential figures in the Toronto urban dance scene.

Riley Sims will present Old New Borrowed Blue, a visceral, eccentric, animalistic, and emotionally-stirring contemporary dance piece for four female dancers. A graduate of The School of Toronto Dance Theatre’s Program in Contemporary Dance and the Wexford School for the Arts Musical Theatre program, Sims has danced in works by numerous choreographers including: Tedd Robinson, Noam Gagnon, Mélanie Demers, Michael Trent, Darryl Tracy and Andrew Turner. Sims spent three seasons as a company member of Ottawa Dance Directive (‘ODD’) under artistic director Yvonne Coutts, performing in the capital, as well as Toronto and Vancouver. 


Sims is the Artistic Director of Social Growl Dance, established in 2012. The company has presented work at festivals and venues including; the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto, the SummerWorks Performance Festival, Dance Matters, Gallery 1313 and The Alumnae Theatre. In 2014, Social Growl Dance received two creation residencies supporting Sims’ first full- length work ‘Are You Still Coming Tonight?’. The first residency was at Centre Q in Quebec with Sims' mentor Tedd Robinson (10 Gates Dancing / National Arts Centre Associate Dance Artist); the second residency was with lemonTree Creations in Toronto. In 2015 Sims was one of four Canadians shortlisted for a Kevin Spacey Foundation 'Artists of Choice' Grant. In 2016, Social Growl Dance was selected to be the Dance Matters 2016/2017 commission and residency artist. This partnership with Dance Matters produced the company’s most recent full-length work ‘Drunk On Fiction’ which premiered in February 2017. Sims has also created commissioned works for Quebec’s Collectif Dans Ta Face (‘We Do It To Ourselves’ - Quebec City, February 2016) and Winnipeg’s Nova Dance Collective (‘Judy and The Reckless’ - March, 2015). Currently Sims' is working with Ottawa's Tedd Robinson (10 Gates Dancing Inc.), and Quebec choreographer Mélanie Demers (Mayday Danse). Sims will tour with Mayday Danse to Italy, Sweden and France in 2017/2018.