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Opening Ceremonies & A-Line Variety Show
March 2 @ 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Join us on Thursday, March 2 as we celebrate the opening of our 11th annual festival at our newest venue! Grab a drink, hear from our city’s supporters, enjoy music by DJ Kena León and the first look at our Skirt Designs. Then enjoy our annual A-Line Variety Show featuring an all-star line up of fabulous femme artists here to shake things up!
March 2 @ 7:00pm
Tickets purchased in advance are $15 (plus applicable fees), 10 Pay-What-You-Can tickets are available. Get your tickets here!
Tickets at the door will be $20 and subject to availability. Due to limited capacity, we highly recommend securing your seat in advance!
Festival passes available now. Get 3 shows, 5 shows or an All Access Pass!
Rebecca Merkley, Emcee
Rebecca Merkley is a multifaceted theatre artist whose work has earned her 4 Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award Nominations for Outstanding Fringe Production, “The Unsyncables,” Best Fringe New Work, “Rivercity the Musical,” Best Fringe New Work and Outstanding Dramatic Performance by an Actor, “5 South.” She writes, composes, directs, produces and performs her own work, which is played to sold-out audiences throughout Alberta. She is the first recipient of the Gerald Osborn Playwriting Award. Recent performing credits include: “Jesus Teaches Us Things” (Edmonton Fringe/Play the Fool), “The Key of Me” (Skirtsafire), “Springboard Cabaret” and “Unsung” (Workshop West), “Romeo & Juliet 2 Show Day” (The Foxden Collective), “Thorgy and the Thorchestra” (Winspear Centre), “Klondykes” (Guys in Disguise/Theatre Network), “Slight of Mind” (Theatre Yes/Citadel Theatre), “5 South” (Dammitammy Productions) and “4Play” (Catalyst Theatre). Her compositions can be found in the sound design for “Pisces,” a new documentary by Darrin Hagen (Theatre Network). She is currently writing a new musical that will debut this summer! www.dammitammy.com
Photo by BB Collective
Rose Fort Theatre Co.
Rose Fort Theatre Co.
Mia and Alexandria are local comedians, actors, and feminists. Our piece is born from the ongoing discomfort and harsh reality of what it means to be a woman in the second wave of the feminist movement. We hope to add a little scream into the noise that is demanding justice, demanding simply be heard and recognized, to let other women know that we see you and we hear you too.
Noreta Lewis-Prince was born in Jamaica where she taught youths music, drama, dance, poetry. She now resides in Alberta and is passionate about making people happy through the arts. She works with Engagement Lab-Theatre of Alberta, Third Space Playback Theatre Company, Inspiration Drama Company and B.E.A.R. Artspace. She also teaches Music Therapy and works with a Youth group in Northside Edmonton.
Noreta is a singer and a Music teacher by profession and taught in the public school in Jamaica for 8 years before migrating to Canada. She continues to sing and teaches music online.
In 2019 Noreta lost her nephew/adopted son Chiyano when gunmen killed him for crossing a bridge. Noreta vows to make sure he will not be forgotten as long as she lives and to tell of the beautiful soul he was. In 2021 Noreta had the privilege of sharing her story with The Shoe Project and SkirtsAfire.
Korock & Jeon’s TKD
KoRock is an abbreviation of Korean Rock in English. In Korean words, KoRock (pronounced [ka-rak]) represents a type of music that synchronizes beat and rhythm with low, mid, and high tones. Taekwondo is Korean Traditional martial arts training, physically and mentally – Tae, meaning to kick or jump; Kwon, meaning fist or hand; and Do, which means “the way.” This performance will show the collaboration of Jeon’s Taekwondo & KoRock – the Taekwondo technical kickings and traditional movements with drumming beats and rhythms coming from traditional Korean beats.
Photo by April MacDonald Killins
Hayden Large is a young multi-talented Cree/Mohawk artist living in Edmonton, Alberta. She enjoys pow-wow dancing in Fancy Dance style, and has performed at school and community events. She has strong vocal abilities, and her favourite genres are pop, rock and traditional Indigenous music. Hayden has sang “O Canada” in Cree and English for an Edmonton’s National Indigenous Day video and was a feature in the “Travelling Song: One Rattle, One People” video. Hayden is also an aspiring actor.
Breaking Ground Excerpt
“Breaking Ground” is a devised, interdisciplinary performance that began as an exploration of roots and evolved into a reflection on Black migration to Canada and what it means to make home in a new place. It is collective creation by Lebogang Disele, Mpoe Mogale, Cherelle George, Elsa Robinson and Timiro Mohamed. We invite audiences to break ground with us, to witness our coming into ourselves, as we find home in a new place and honour those who came before us.
Be sure to catch the full “Breaking Ground” performance at Off the Page on Wednesday, March 8!
Poster design by Cherelle George
Photo by Timiro Mohammed
Hemali Boorada, Choreographer/Curator/
Hemali Boorada is an alumnus of the Shivamanohari School of Performing Art, based in Canada. She has been the lead dancer in the SSDM Ensemble for over 8 years. Hemali has been training under her mother Smt.Gomathi Boorada for over 18 years. She has been further groomed in the nuances of Kuchipudi by Natya Ratna Sri Pasumarthy Venkateswara Sarma, Mrs. Padmavani Mosalikanti, Surendranadh Muramalla, Bijina Balakrishnan; as well seeking academic guidance from Dr. Yashoda Thakore. Hemali has had the opportunity to train under Mrs. Swathi Gudepuneedi-Atluri and Mr. Hari Rama Murthy during a month-long intensive in New York. She regularly travels both nationally and internationally presenting the Kuchipudi repertoire in places such as Canada, the United States, Europe, India and Indonesia. Hemali is now stepping into her choreographic journey; her first project ‘Bhujangam’ with the renowned Bala Boys (of the Grammy Nominated Berklee Indian Ensemble) was a success, amassing over 25,000 views. Hemali is currently pursuing her Masters in Fine Arts – Kuchipudi alongside her post-graduate degree in Law. With over 7 years of experience under her belt, she is teaching under the branch of Shivamonhari School of Performing Arts, a world class Kuchipudi Dance Institute.
Marla Palakkamanil, Choreographer/
Marla Palakkamanil Gill is an Edmonton born and raised professional dancer with extensive training in the classical Indian dance form of Kathak. She began her training in Kathak and Bharatanatyam with Usha Gupta and has continued her Kathak training with Guru Sudeshna Maulik. Marla has reached a point in her artistic practice and career development that has placed her at the forefront of a tradition that she has worked most diligently to achieve.Throughout her dance career, Marla’s strong foundation in dance has enabled her to train with renowned artists including Pandit Birju Maharaj, Sandhya Desai, Maulik Shah, Nirupama and Rajendra, Anuj Mishra, and Uma Dogra. Marla has performed in various festivals in Canada and the United States over the years. Marla has embarked on a number of tours across both Canada and India, under the Usha Gupta Dance Entourage and the Brian Webb Dance Company. Apart from her contributions to dance, Marla is a clinical pharmacist with advanced prescribing authorization and injection certification. Marla is currently completing her PhD in Epidemiology at the University of Alberta.
Shakthi Ganesh, Choreographer/Performer
Shakthi Ganesh is a student at the University of Calgary and has been learning Bharatanatyam since the tender age of three at the Shakthi Shethralaya Dance school under Dr. Karthika Devi Ganesh. She has trained in the Pandanallur style of Bharatanatyam for the past 17 years. Her Bharatanatyam skills have impressed many, and have won multiple awards, such as the Youth of distinction award 2019 and a place in the Guiness Book of World records for dancing over 3 hours with dancers across the globe. Shakthi has been teaching young children Bharatanatyam across Calgary, Alberta, in hopes of sharing the love she has for the art form. She is now the Dance director of Shakthi Shethralaya Dance school. Shakthi hopes to earn a Ph.D. in Bharatanatyam while pursuing a career in the mental health field.
This trio is composed of 2nd generation Traditional Indian artists, hailing from 3 different classical art forms: Kuchipudi (Hemali), Kathak (Marla) and Bharathnatyam (Shakthi). Working on a choreography, known in India as a “Jugalbandi” meaning ‘entwined’, the artists will highlight each art form under one song. The work will exhibit the beautiful intricacies and movements of each form concluding with a merging of the three styles together. This piece is a confluence of the individuality and similarity of our dance forms, hence the name ‘Trikōn’: meaning 3 points.
Growing up in Canada, we all struggled to find a balance in our identities. Dance has been a big grounding feature for all of us. We share very similar stories; growing up we started to notice how in India there are vast differences in tradition and customs by state. This applies to our art as well. As we grew, we were able to see the beauty in the similarities and cohesion of Indian art. With this piece we want to show the unity in art throughout India. We will each be presenting our unique art form, ending with a confluence of all 3 styles (Kuchipudi, Kathak and Bharathnatyam). This performance will be a pure and uncolonized version of Indian dance and tradition. Though raised in Canada, we are proud to continue presenting our art in its true and authentic form.
Artists Supported by Bernadette Gasslein
Artists Supported by Bernadette Gasslein
with Jill McKenna on bass
“The clarity of Maddie’s voice could very well be drifting out of a Greenwich Village folk club in the 1960’s. Maddie’s songs are political and deeply empathetic” – Edmonton Folk Fest
Maddie Storvold is the black sheep love child of comedian Steven Wright and protest singer Joan Baez. Born on an air force base in Northern Alberta, but raised a nomad, based in the Middle East, she had traveled to over 30 countries by the time she turned 18 and moved back to Canada to complete a degree in English & Philosophy at Western University. This wealth of diverse cultural experiences and the intimate study of the craft of words can certainly be heard in the singer’s music. Often compared to Joni Mitchell, Storvold possesses compassion and storytelling abilities far beyond her years, and delivers these qualities to audiences with a honeyed, impassioned voice and emotive fingerpicking.
After moving to Edmonton in 2016, Storvold immersed herself in the city’s vibrant arts community and recorded her debut LP, The Old Brag Of My Heart in bathrooms, basements, treehouses and kitchens, seeking to capture an authentic and unedited experience of each unique song. It was released to a sold out room and critical acclaim in the summer of 2017, charting Top 10 on Earshot folk/roots radio across Canada. The young folk singer released her second full-length album Freedom, Books, Flowers & the Moon in December 2018, again to a sold out room, but this time at the Telus World of Science planetarium, with a choreographed 4-storey dome dancing above the band.
In February 2019, Storvold released a ballad, “Don’t Say You Love Me”, written and produced by Bryan Adams. The single shot to #1 on the country charts in less than 3 hours, and peaked at #3 on the overall charts, surpassing Lady Gaga and P!nk.
As a live performer, Storvold has been described as having a “commanding stage presence, a quirky sense of humor, and a knack for capturing moments in song” (Vue Weekly), with audience members often expressing delight at seeing both a music and a standup comedy show in one act. A fast regular on the festival circuit, Storvold has quickly carved out a space for herself in the Canadian music scene. She has brought stories and songs to the Edmonton Folk Fest, Canmore Folk Fest, Tiny Lights (Ymir, BC), Bear Creek Folk Festival (Grande Prairie, AB), Wild Mountain Music Festival (Hinton, AB), Rock on the River (Timmins, ON), Festival d’ete (Quebec City), Cavendish Beach Music Festival (PEI), Calgary Stampede, Interstellar Rodeo, and many more.
Storvold’s forthcoming release compiles a group of finely crafted songs, with a throughline of tenderness and hope. Titled Sunstorm after the disarming natural phenomenon of a sunshower, the record details the peaks and valleys of a young artist’s life: the road, the loneliness, the shiny record deal that came and went, an old love found and lost, and a new love found and treasured. The offering, produced by indie heavy hitter Graham Lessard (Timber Timbre, Stars, Basia Bulat), takes 10 simple story songs and layers them with complex, compelling instrumentation.
Tough and sweet like gravel in honey, she can make you laugh and cry, think and ache – all in the same hour. Storvold’s music seeks to tell a story, to challenge us, to spark delight, and to touch a fragile part of the human spirit. Funny and fresh-faced, this story singer is quickly gaining attention across Canada as a voice to be reckoned with, harkening in a new generation of folk icons.
Photo by Sheena Zilinski
Kena León (she/they) is a queer Filipinx multi-disciplinary artist who uses music, sound and technology as their main media. Kena is active in the Edmonton queer scene through events as a DJ and a performing artist.
They are also the co-genius of The Speakeasy and Blurr Apparel, queer businesses that strive for queer visibility.
The constant pursuit of their work is using music/sound to uplift the queer community and create safe/inclusive spaces.
Jo-Ann has been playing bagpipes to kick off SkirtsAfire Festival since 2016! Jo-Ann was born and raised in northwest BC and grew up on a farm outside of Terrace BC. Her passions were sports, music, more sports and friends. Jo-Ann enjoyed all school sports such as basketball, volleyball, field hockey and lots of track and field events. She moved to Alberta in the early eighties and continued where she left off in high school by finding a hockey and ball hockey team to play with and building a family away from home with many friends.
In 1996 she joined Edmonton Vocal Minority where she met her partner Peni Christopher and they will celebrate 25 years together this July. Jo-Ann worked as a Personal Care Attendant for 4 years, a Pharmacy Tech/Clerk for 14 years and then in 2001 she went on to work for the City of Edmonton at Edmonton Transit where she has been for the past 21 years. She still enjoys music, playing the bagpipes with the Pipes and Drums of Edmonton Transit and her favorite activity is golf with her COE buddies. She also watches the four grandchildren in her life play the sports they love. Grandma Peni and Oma Jo-Ann are a great cheering section. Jo-Ann and Peni continue to adapt to life as needed.
Toronto-based singer-songwriter Shawna Caspi takes her time crafting lyrics that are poetic and meaningful, often using unusual rhymes and surprising turns of phrase. This is music that makes an authentic human connection, that conveys a sense of closeness, of being understood, of feeling less alone. Shawna spent years on the road, playing festivals and concert halls, train cars, backyards, and living rooms, supporting her warm, clear voice with intricate fingerstyle guitar accompaniment, and drawing energy from shifting landscapes and long drives through Canada and the United States. After taking a break from the road to rest, reflect, and write, Shawna returns with her fifth album, “Hurricane Coming”, a collection of raw, deeply personal songs set against a backdrop of colourful cinematic soundscapes. Shawna also created a series of abstract paintings inspired by the songs on the album, seamlessly combining her work as a musician and visual artist.
Photo by Roni Hoffman
Artist Supported by Bernadette Gasslein
Artist Supported by Bernadette Gasslein
Lauren Brady is a multidisciplinary artist born in Calgary, Alberta, on Treaty 7 territory. Lauren began her artistic journey training in various dance styles at age 3. In 2021 she graduated from the BFA in Acting program with distinction at the University of Alberta and entered the Edmonton and Calgary arts community. Lauren is currently still training through One Yellow Rabbits, Beautiful Young Artists program with Denise Clark. Selected performance credits include: She sat down and wept (One Yellow Rabbit), The Comedy of Errors (Theatre Calgary), Imperfect Symmetry (Jupiter Theatre), The Birds, Dracula, The Secret In The Wings (Studio Theatre).
As a creator Lauren is known for her combination of clown and contemporary dance. She began her creative journey at the University of Alberta, training with Jan Henderson and Michael Kennard. Lauren has developed her process through research, online workshops, self-created work, and mentorship from Michael Kennard. Since graduating Lauren has created dance clown works in festivals across Alberta including, The Nextfest Festival, Fluid Festival, The Common Clown festival. In 2021 she received a Canada Council Grant and created “interWEBBED,” a sci-fi clown thriller that premiered at Nextfest this past June. Lauren recently came from One North Clown & Creation, where she studied with John Turner.
Selected creation credits: InterWEBBED (Nextfest Festival), MediaTAKEover (Common Clown Cabaret), do NOT disturb (Play the Fool Film Festival), LOST IN CONNECTION (Fluid Fest), BREAKing up (Nextfest Online Festival).