Olga Barrios remembers: 2012 Toronto Fringe Festival Dance Preview

Olga Barrios and Remembering the Farewells at the 2012 Toronto Fringe Festival is a must-see as far as I’m concerned. I met Olga at the  Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival in 2010 and although I only saw part of her work in technical rehearsal (we were sharing a program) it was clear to me from that and her loveliness backstage, that she is a striking artist.

Born and raised in Colombia, Olga started dancing in a formal setting as a teenager. She pursued another path in her early adulthood but went back to dance, studying Scenic Arts in Bogotá. She dove into diverse dance styles: ballet, jazz, modern, afro, Colombian folklore, flamenco, and also acting. She co-founded Blancoscuro Dance Company, an experimental and site-specific dance troupe in Colombia in 1996.

Later, while living in San Francisco and New York, Olga explored modern, contemporary and butoh dance. She returned to Colombia, working on solo pieces and collaborations, living in different cities, dancing, presenting and teaching.

In 2005, she had an artistic residency in Montreal and passed through Toronto to participate in [the now-defunct] fFIDA. She returned for good in 2007, splitting her time between Hamilton and Toronto, and becoming one of the first class in the new MFA dance program at York University. She has presented her work at many different events and places along the way, while teaching, coaching and collaborating at McMaster University, the Hamilton Arts Conservatory, Aluna Theatre and Alameda Theatre.

A favourite project of Olga’s here in Canada is Vanguardia Dance Projects, co-founded in collaboration with choreographer and dancer Norma Araiza.

“With these projects we have presented and connected artists with a relation and/or interest to Latin America, and we pursue to continue creating more opportunities of exchange and collaboration.”

Olga has also been working on a new work to premiere next year, Enigma F, with 4 collaborators, including other two choreographers/dancers, a visual artist and a music composer/DJ.  She is also working on a series of dance installations for next year as well.

Remembering the Farewells is a work that has being presented many times since 2002, but this is its Toronto-debut.

“When I created Remembering the Farewells I was living in New York.  I was homesick for a year.  It was my first period of time leaving my homeland.  I was working so intensely my body and I got injured, a very complex knee injury.  I thought that I had to stop dancing, and the doctors implied it.”

Olga searched for memories of family, friends, places, and also recent things happening in the city.

“That was the year of 9-11 in New York.  So, many farewells of people were intense in that moment for me. I started sitting dancing, hand dancing… any type of dancing without moving much my leg.  It was a strong time, full of nostalgia and desire for living through my strongest way of expression: dance.”

Olga began with four dances linked in collage form, then developed a fuller story line and character based on all these farewells.

“In general, my creative process starts from the motivation: a subject, a resource, a place, a moment… anything….and it is related to a live moment or where my interests are focused.

The order of what it comes next is different each time.  But generally after motivation, it goes research.  The research is based in the practice of my craft and also looking to places and many things, diverse art forms. I would say I look to everything around me during the process.”

After showing excerpts of Remembering the Farewells in Toronto over her years in Canada and choreographing full-length works for other companies, Olga wanted to present a full-length piece of her own.

“So, I put my name in the [Toronto Fringe Festival] lottery. I chose a piece without much tech involved and with strong theatricality due to the nature of the festival. This presentation will also help me to visualize a production presentation of a full length re-mount for next year. So, here we go…”

Olga firmly describes her work as dance-theatre, full of contrasts between movement, theatrical play and music.

“It reconstructs farewell memories from childhood, family, places, loved ones, parties, friends, and homeland. It is inspired on femininity and fragility as well as in the strength that imprints the acts of many women.”
Life itself inspires Olga to continue creating, performing, presenting her work.

“The possibilities of expression. The curiosity.  The playfulness.  The options of going deep in my own world and to create other worlds.”

Remembering the Farewells

By: Olga Barrios

Company: Olga Barrios Contemporary Dance

Choreographed and performed by Olga Barrios

Photography: Juan Carlos Marquez

Lighting designer: John Henry Gerena

Show length: 50min.

This performance is accessible for non-English speakers



Robert Gill

show times

July 06 09:15 PM

July 08 04:30 PM

July 09 10:30 PM

July 10 10:45 PM

July 11 12:00 PM

July 13 12:00 PM

July 14 05:15 PM


at-the-door tickets ($10)

advance tickets
($9 + $2 service charge)

Available up to three hours prior to the start of a performance: Online at www.fringetoronto.com

By Phone at 416-966-1062

July 2nd – 15th, daily, 9:30am – 6:30pm

In person at the Festival Box Office

July 4th – 15th, 12 – 10pm @ The Fringe Club, 581 Bloor St. W.