Dena Davida, dance educator, performer, curator, scholar (born at New York 3 Apr 1949). Dena Davida is a champion of independent dance artists and has presented dance in Montréal since her arrival in 1977. Responsible for introducing contact improvisation (CI) to the city, she has taught youth and university classes on subjects ranging from choreography to aesthetics.
With a Bachelor of Arts in theatre and dance minor from the University of California (1970), Davida settled in Montréal, where she taught Nikolaïs technique and contact improvisation to Lawrence GRADUS's company Entre-Six. Quickly hired by Francoise Riopelle to teach CI at Université du Quebec à Montréal's (UQAM) theatre department, Davida transferred to the dance department when it was created in 1979. There she taught for the next 25 years.
With former students Davida co-founded the CATPOTO collective, performing contact improvisation in Québec and the US between 1978-87. At the invitation of Chantal Pontbriand, she organized presentations of Canadian dance artists such as Marie CHOUINARD and Édouard LOCK, and post-modern American choreographers such as Lucinda Childs and Meredith Monk, at the MUSÉE DES BEAUX-ARTS DE MONTRÉAL. She co-founded a choreographers' collective called "Qui Danse?," coordinating studio presentations of their work.
Davida founded co-Tangente in 1980; it was the first venue dedicated to presenting and archiving contemporary dance in Quebec. After a rocky beginning in various loft spaces, and later partnering with other cultural institutions, in 1991 Tangente found a home at the Agora de la danse, where it remained for 2 decades.
Through Tangente Davida nurtured 3 generations of dance artists, including Ginette LAURIN, Paul-André FORTIER, Danièle DESNOYERS and Louise BÉDARD. Davida's home a few steps from the Agora de la danse served as a guest house for many years for visiting artists and arts academics. In 2011 Tangente became nomadic as it embarked on a new building project to open in 2015 in the Quartier des Spectacles.
Receiving her Masters in Movement Studies from Wesleyan University in 1995 and certification in Laban Movement Studies in 1996, Davida went on to complete her doctoral degree at UQAM in 2006. In 1985 Davida co-founded the FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL DE NOUVELLE DANSE with Chantal Pontbriand and Diane Boucher. A founding member of CanDance Network, she has been a jury member and consultant for various arts funding agencies. In 2007 the Conseil des arts de Montréal awarded Tangente and Davida its 23rd Grand Prize, and in 2012 the Canadian Society for Dance Studies awarded Davida its first Founder's Prize.
Since 2010 Davida has shared artistic and executive direction of Tangente with Stéphan Labbé, allowing more time for her academic pursuits. Her essays and research articles have been published in numerous magazines and journals, and in 2011 her edited anthology Fields in Motion: Ethnography in the Worlds of Dance was published by Wilfred Laurier University Press.