After completing her program at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre, Katherine Semchuk had an important decision to make about where her future would be. Luckily for the Edmonton arts scene, she decided to come home. “Coming back to Edmonton gave me a lot of time and space to reflect on the past three years and create my own aesthetic,” says Semchuk. “I’ve had opportunities to create my own work, perform them and be able to discuss them with other people as equals.”
This was especially important considering Semchuk left for Toronto when she was only 17 and had barely begun to scratch the surface of what Edmonton can offer. Since returning, the dancer, choreographer, and instructor has participated in numerous festivals and events, including the Feats Festival of Dance, the SubArctic Improv and Experimental Arts series, and the SkirtsAFire Festival.
For this year’s NextFest, Semchuk is evolving an improvised SubArctic piece as a duet that physically demonstrates the struggles of roadblocks. The work is especially personal for the dancer because she is often drawn to physical expression, whether her own or someone else’s, to conquer her own creative and mental barriers. “Physicality has always been inspiring. That visceral feeling… It’s something that heightens your adrenaline,” she says. “I like that when I watch dance and when I’m dancing, where you feel like you’re about to fall. It’s that risk-taking element of it.”
Her risk-taking, creativity, and hard work have led her to some amazing opportunities and recognitions. This year, Semchuk was the recipient of the Good Women New Work Award, which includes a mentorship through the Good Women Dance Collective and a spot in the 2018 Chinook Series. Although she teaches at local studios and mentors at her old high school, Victoria School of the Arts, Semchuk knows she has more to learn. “I’ve always looked up to all those ladies (at GWDC)… They’re all quite mature performers and it’ll be nice to be in a room with them and be pushed that way.”