Course Director: Repertory, Contemporary/Modern Dance
Julia Sasso is recognized as "one of the foremost dance artists in the country." - The Dance Current
An established choreographer, performer, master teacher and artistic mentor, Julia Sasso began dancing in 1960 in Detroit (USA) where she trained with Cecchetti ballet master, Rose Marie Floyd. In her teens she was a scholarship student at the Joffrey Ballet School (NYC) and an apprentice with the Harkness Ballet (NYC). Her artistry has been shaped by curiosity, investigation and investment and continues to evolve through ongoing training in the Skinner Releasing Technique™, Improvisation, Authentic Movement, theatre, voice, Pilates, ballet and contemporary movement techniques.
Sasso performed internationally with Toronto’s Dancemakers (1984-2000) and was the company’s Assistant Artistic Director and principal teacher for a dozen years. She was a featured performer in original works and repertoire by Carol Anderson, Serge Bennathan, Christopher House, James Kudelka, Bill James, Lar Lubovitch, Jean-Pierre Perreault and Doug Varone among others. She has appeared as a guest artist with the companies of Toronto Dance Theatre, Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers, blackandblue dance projects and the Contemporary Civic Ballet (USA) among others and in the work of notable independent choreographers including Sarah Chase, Murray Darroch and Claudia Moore. "one of perhaps a dozen contemporary modern dancers in Canada who is simply breathtaking in motion." -The Ottawa Citizen.
Sasso continues to perform in the works of others as well as her own, and has choreographed extensively for the concert stage as well as for feature film, theatre and television. Her choreography has been commissioned and presented throughout Canada, in the United States and abroad by Harbourfront Centre, the Canada Dance Festival, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada, DanceWorks, Dancing on the Edge, Toronto Dance Theatre, Dancemakers, Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers, Workshop Foundation and Monika Laszlo (Hungary), Gearshifting Performance Works, Crooked Figure Dances, Four Chambers Dance Projects, HOWDARESHE productions, Contemporary Civic Ballet, du Maurier World Stage, Tarragon Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, Theatre Centre, Factory Theatre, Dancers for Life, Peterborough New Dance and Edward Day Gallery among others. Her contribution to professional theatre and concert dance has been acknowledged with eight Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations. Sasso has created choreography for all of Canada’s professional contemporary dance training programs and since 1995 she has created numerous pieces for The School of Toronto Dance Theatre’s PTP where she is a faculty member.
SPORTING LIFE was commissioned by the CanDance Network in 1995 and was presented in Ottawa and Toronto. In 1998, Sasso was the Canadian commissioned by the PanAmerican New Creation series (a series of international co-productions between Canada, Mexico and the United States) and created MAA for a company of interpreters from all three countries. Co-commissioned by Harbourfront Centre, the Canada Dance Festival and nightswimming in 2002, Beauty was Harbourfront Centre’s first dance commission in more than a decade. Sasso has collaborated on a number of projects with the developmental theatre company nightswimming including Brian Quirt’s stage adaptation of Jane Urquhart’s, The Whirlpool (2000), Beauty (2003), Andrew Massingham’s award winning solo show Rough House (2005) and the betrayal project (2006).
She created choreography for the Volcano/Art of Time Ensemble’s award winning production of Mauricio Kaegel’s,Variété in 2004. In 2005 she trained and coached the company and created movement for Peter Hinton’s acclaimed production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada. In 2009 Sasso choreographed and directed Túl a folyón (Beyond the River). An international co-production between Hungary, Slovakia, Canada and Czech Republic, the full-evening length work for two dancers and an actor premiered at Hungary’s National Dance Theatre (Budapest) and in Bratislava, Slovakia later that year. Sasso created choreography for the feature films, Boy Meets Girl (1998) and The Life Before This (1999). Film treatments of her pieces SPORTING LIFE, DUST, SCHMERZEN (IN THE HOTHOUSE) and It was like this have been screened on television and at film festivals world wide. She created choreography for the hit HBO television series, Queer as Folk.
Julia Sasso dances was established and incorporated (as THE DANCE CREATION GROUP) in 2000 as a project-to-project based company. Finding the incorporated company model cumbersome it was dissolved in 2006 following the creation and presentation of the company’s two highly acclaimed full-evening length productions, Beauty (2003) and the betrayal project (2006). As an independent artist Sasso continues to choreograph and direct commissioned work, self-generated and collaborative movement based projects.
Highly regarded as a teacher of contemporary dance techniques, Sasso has taught at distinguished learning centres worldwide. She is a faculty member of York University’s Department of Dance where she has designed and delivered courses in Composition, Choreography, Improvisation, Repertory and Contemporary Dance Techniques at both the Graduate and Undergraduate levels. She is also a faculty member of The School of Toronto Dance Theatre’s Professional Training Program. Sasso is an internationally Certified Teacher of the Skinner Releasing Technique™(SRT) and one of Canada’s few active certified facilitators. She has regularly and in recent years increasingly taken on the role of dramaturg, mentor, outside eye, facilitator and rehearsal director for myriad artistic projects.
Sasso’s work has been recognized and honoured with awards, grants, scholarships and bursaries from among others, the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Chalmers Foundation, Laidlaw Foundation, Metcalf Foundation, John McKellar Foundation, Dancers’ Transition Resource Centre, Skinner Releasing Institute, York University, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Royal Winnipeg Ballet Professional Program, Joffrey Ballet School, Harkness Ballet and The Cecchetti Council of America. Her biography is included in Who’s Who of Canadian Women (U of T Press Inc.).
An active participant in the local, national and international dance communities Sasso is a member of CADA/CDA, DTRC, Dance Ontario, Toronto Arts Coalition, SCDS and SDHS. She served as co-chair of the Dancers for Life Organizing Committee, has served on numerous boards, juries and advisory committees and lends mentorship and support to countless dance related initiatives.
Areas of Academic Specialty: Repertory, Contemporary/Modern Dance