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, 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!

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Student's Perspective: Ava Phenix-Ng

Today’s blog post is a special one. Ava Phenix-Ng, one of the dancers in the Pegasus Performance Group, has shared with us her perspective of the rehearsal process and performing with the PPG. Just one more way that events like Dances of Offering really do make a difference! Take it away Ava!


Ava Phenix-Ng

Hi! I’m Ava. I’m 11 years old, and in Grade 6 at school. I started dancing in Jane’s Music and Movement class when I was 3, and am currently in my ninth year at Pegasus. I take ballet, jazz, and tap in addition to dancing with the performance group. Dance has been very important and special to me ever since I started dancing at Pegasus.

This is my second year in the Pegasus Performance Group. I decided to audition for the group because I felt that it would give me a lot of opportunities that I otherwise never would have. I’m glad I made that decision because I love being in the performance group and I’ve learned so much!

For the 2012 Dances of Offering benefit show, I will be performing in Bonnie Gaztambide’s original piece, “Surge”. I’ve loved working with Bonnie and I’m honoured to be able to work with such a fantastic choreographer. My favourite part of the rehearsal process has been being able to work with so many people (there are 21 of us!), and being able to add our ideas to the choreography. I’ve enjoyed how Bonnie gave us the storyline and let us help her develop the piece. My favourite thing about performing is being able to share my passion for dance with an audience. I love dance so much that sharing with people gives me a wonderful feeling inside.

I think the charity chosen for this year is a great charity to support for so many reasons. The main reason is that the new TEGH Paediatric Ambulatory Clinic will help so many children in our community.

Performing in the benefit show has given me such a wonderful opportunity as a dancer. By being in the benefit show, I have been able to participate in a professional show, which has taught me how things work in the performing arts world. It has also taught me about thinking of others before myself. I find it very special that I can do what I love, while helping people by supporting different charities each year.


Thank you so much Ava for sharing with us! If you would like to see Ava and the rest of the Pegasus Performance Group perform in Dances of Offering, buy your tickets here:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Message from Alison Keery

Hello again! Today’s blog is written by someone near and dear to me, Alison Keery. Alison has been my friend since our first year at York University. I asked her to be a part of a piece that I was choreographing for Dances of Offering and she was incredibly supportive and performed the piece beautifully. I had the pleasure of working with her again for last year’s Benefit Concert, when we performed a very emotional duet together. I feel blessed to be able to collaborate with her again this year and am glad to have shared this experience with her. So without further ado, Alison Keery!

Alison Keery
Photo credit: Andrea de Keijzer

In 2008 I moved to Toronto from a small town in Northern British Columbia to study dance at York University. I didn’t know very many people but quickly befriended Jessica Houghton who was also studying at York. We became fast friends and eventually she asked me if I would be interested in performing in a group she was creating for her studio’s annual benefit concert known as Dances of Offering. I was touched and agreed to be her third dancer. Rehearsals took place at Pegasus Studios. I come from a very family oriented studio and coming to Pegasus was a little like coming home for me. Their arms and doors were opened and I felt very welcome and comfortable among the faculty and students. At the dress rehearsal I was treated with compassion and professionalism and it felt so wonderful to be a part of such a spectacular show. Again in 2010 I was asked by Jessica to be in another piece she was creating for the same concert and though most of our rehearsals took place at York for convenience sake, when we did take them to Pegasus so that both Jane Davis Munro, the studio director, and Janice Pomer, Jessica’s choreographic mentor, were able to see the piece, I again felt welcomed as a member of the Pegasus community.  Janice - who had never taught me technique - was supportive and encouraging in how I had grown as a performer from when she last saw me.  I was touched that she had noticed and felt she was able to compliment me on it in a familiar and “teacher-like” way.  Back stage at the show I truly felt this time like a member of Pegasus Studios and was surrounded by the generosity that permeates the mentality of all the faculty members, in particular Jane.  This is reflected in her continuous and annual dedication in creating this beautiful performance for multiple different charity organizations.  However, Dances of Offerings is not only an offering to these various organizations but also to lonely dancers who have found their way to a safe haven in a large and sometimes overwhelming city.  I will forever be grateful to Jane and Janice for being so supportive and to Jessica for welcoming me to her home.  

Alison Keery
Photo credit: Andrea de Keijzer

I hope you all enjoyed hearing from Alison! Look forward to seeing her perform in Dances of Offering on February 12th at the Betty Oliphant Theatre. For tickets go to

Monday, January 16, 2012

An Interview with Janice Pomer

Photo credit: Barry Prophet
Today’s blog takes a closer look into the choreographic process that goes into creating the beautiful performances in Dances of Offering. After one of her rehearsals, Janice Pomer, our modern dance teacher at Pegasus, allowed me to interview her about a piece she is choreographing this year. Here's what she had to say:

Jessica: Hi Janice, could you tell us a little bit about your dance background and what you're up to now?

Janice: I've been a performing artist in dance, theatre and music since the mid 70's. For the first 15 - 20 years, from the mid 70's to the early 90's, there was a lot of scepticism about people being multidisciplinary and now it's wonderful seeing how many people are multidisciplinary performance artists. As a performer I've embraced many different performance disciplines and in the last 12 years or so I've been focusing on teaching modern dance and also on a lot of writing. I write about the creative process, creative and dramatic movement, and choreography, and those books are published internationally and used by educators and dance artists around the world.

Jessica: What is the title of your piece for the Pegasus Performance Group this year?

Janice: This is a piece about the brain and brain overload. The title is "Sometimes I think I think too much"

Jessica: What is the concept for the piece?

Janice: It's a human experience. We’ve all experienced what it’s like when your brain is buzzing while you're lying in bed at night trying to sleep and you start thinking about all the things that you didn't do or need to do, or when you're trying to focus on one job and you keep being distracted by your brain's interest in something that is totally mundane and wonderful, like looking outside and seeing the clouds. It's a very human experience and it’s fun for the kids because they're going through it. They've got exams, they've got their dance stuff, they've got responsibilities at home. Some days in class kids come in and say, "my brain is going to explode", so I know they can relate personally to the situation.

Jessica: Why did you decide on this concept?

Janice: It was an interesting process. I have not worked with this group of young dancers before, and they're all from a number of different dance disciplines. I was looking for something that could help make them a cohesive ensemble and that's when I decided to go for a more theatrical piece that I could use as a catalyst to introduce certain modern concepts and to let them have some fun exploring a whimsical and humorous aspect of human nature.

Jessica: What has been the biggest challenge that you've faced so far in this process?

Janice: I think the biggest challenge was that once I established what I was interested in exploring thematically, I knew that it would require a special sonic composition to accompany it. My partner, Barry Prophet is a composer and percussionist. He works with experimental music, sound art and computer assisted music. Barry was happy to create a piece for me but he's busy with a number of other projects. There was only a short period of time that he could work on the composition so the challenge for me was to articulate all of my ideas to Barry before I started rehearsing with the dancers. Barry reached into his incredible array of sound files and created a fabulous piece. He manipulated voices so they sound like beautiful watery music, he has voices that sound really rough like they're being heard over a weak cell phone connection, and he included some great percussion. The music was the biggest challenge. Barry did it and it’s phenomenal!

Jessica: Why did you want to be involved with the Benefit Show and the performance group?

Janice: I love the benefit. I love the idea that the dancers are dancing for others and not for themselves. I love the fact that it resonates to what I believe is the essence of dance. Dance for me is a way of connecting to the world. Dance is a kinetic art form, it's not a sport where the goal is to win. Dance is art and art is communication. It is a gift to be able to dance and gifts are for giving. In this day and age with the popularity of so many competitive dance shows on television young dancers can lose sight of the joys of dancing with others and for others. That’s not to discredit competitive dance programs. A lot of hard work and dedication is involved in competitions, and there can be great value in competing, but there is also great value and great merit in dancing for others.

Jessica: What does this cause in specific mean to you?

Janice: For the past ten years Dances of Offering has been alternating between global and local charities. Last year we reached out to support children in Haiti and this year we’re focusing on something that impacts directly on the Pegasus community. A large portion of our students were born at Toronto East General and when I see kids come to class with stitches or taped rotator cuffs I know they've probably been to the ER at East General. So raising money for TEGH is fabulous -there's a real connectivity for the students. They can say, “Hey, I am raising money for the people and the organization that has helped me, my friends and my family."

Thank you Janice for an amazing and enlightening interview! Come to Dances of Offering on February 12th at the Betty Oliphant Theatre to see Janice’s piece and many more! To buy tickets visit

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dances of Offering 2012

Hello again everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! Here at Pegasus it was nice taking a short break from classes and rehearsals, but soon we’ll be back at it with fresh perspectives and enthusiasm to match the New Year.

As some of you may know, for ten years Pegasus Studios has been putting on Dances of Offering, a Benefit Concert created to provide an opportunity for Pegasus to give back to the community. The dream was to create a show that joined the talents of professional performers with those of students to raise money for a local charity. The first shows were held at Pegasus Studios, but in 2007 we moved to the Al Green Theatre and after that the Young Centre for the Performing Arts and the Betty Oliphant Theatre. In past years, we have raised money for foundations such as Sheena’s Place, The Food Bank, Red Door Shelter, Robin Rock’s On, Liam’s Light, and World Vision. Every year we choose a charity that reflects the values of Pegasus Studios and the issues that resonate with the faculty and students involved in the show.

This year, Pegasus Studios is proud to present the 10th annual Dances of Offering Benefit Concert, an evening dedicated to bringing together members of the Toronto dance community to perform, celebrate, and give back. We will be raising funds to help build a new Paediatric Ambulatory Clinic at Toronto East General Hospital, a hospital that has already helped many of our students and where many Pegasus dancers are born (myself included)!

Dances of Offering will take place at the Betty Oliphant Theatre on February 12th, 2012. We are honoured to have two time Dora award winner, Nicola Pantin, as one of our featured choreographers and performers. Other artists include, Bonnie Gaztambide, Georgia Leung, Janice Pomer, Pam Reid-McKay, Melissa Nascimento, and Lisa Weiler. I will also be choreographing and performing in a piece alongside some of my friends from York University. Students from Pegasus Studios will be joined by senior dancers from Earl Haig and Claude Watson (TDSB) and Father Redmond (TCDSB) High Schools for the Performing Arts.

What began as a small student produced show a decade ago has evolved under the guidance of Pegasus Studios' artistic director Jane Davis Munro into a much anticipated annual event that raises thousands of dollars each year for non-profit organizations whose work benefits the lives of children and youth.

Please join us at the Betty Oliphant Theatre on Sunday February 12, 2012 at 5:00 pm for this exciting event. All proceeds go towards the new Paediatric Ambulatory Clinic at Toronto East General Hospital.

For tickets please visit

Have a great day!

-Jessica Houghton