25 to Watch

25 to Watch 2018: Daina Ashbee

Photo by Patrice Mathieu, Courtesy Ashbee

Creating dance as a medium for eliminating taboos has been cathartic for radical, riveting Montreal-based dancer and choreographer Daina Ashbee. Her highly physical, personal work dealing with topics such as female sexuality, anorexia, trauma, loss, the menstrual cycle and Indigenous women has garnered accolades: At the prestigious 2016 Prix de la Danse Montreéal, she received both Le Prix Découverte de la Danse (emerging artist award) and the Prix du CALQ for Best Choreographic Work (for When the ice melts, will we drink the water?).


Growing up, Ashbee struggled with an eating disorder and body-image issues. After studies in ballet and jazz, and stints in television and film, life gradually began to shift when she joined, at age 20, the Raven Spirit Dance Society, an all-women contemporary aboriginal dance company in Vancouver. Of Cree Métis and Dutch heritage, she has always embraced her aboriginal legacy. "These women are role models, and gave me another vision of seeing beauty and caring for the body," says Ashbee.

Transforming pain through dance has been healing, allowing Ashbee to become more confident. This bold, exceptional artist is unafraid of affecting people and, as she says, "hitting them in the gut."


Find out who else made Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" list this year.

Dance on Broadway
Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown

If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.

Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.

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Simon Soong, Courtesy DDT

When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.

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Alice Pennefather, Courtesy ROH

You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)

Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of:

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