rooted in where we're from

growing to where we want to go

About us

What is branch intensive?

branch intensive is a contemporary dance intensive that aims to provide physical training, creative practise and an alternative learning experience. branch explores dance through a range of classes, workshops, and creative processes. The week provides rigorous training that maintains the high standards of physicality and creativity that have been cultivated in Northern Ontario, while presenting a faculty of teachers who lead classes and push our concept of what contemporary dance is today. 

Who can attend branch intensive?

branch intensive is designed for the Northern Ontario professional dance community, open to EVERYONE

What does this mean? Pre-professional dance students 16+,  post secondary students, emerging artists. teachers, choreographers, directors, actors, musical theatre artists, clowns, bgirls + bboys, performance artists, circus artists, yogis, recreational dancers, people who weight lift, people who do martial arts, and people . People who are interested in spending a week working with their bodies and movement. 

where did the name come from?

branchthe name of Northern Ontario's summer dance intensive hosted in Sudbury, is based on the image of a tree. Much like the roots of a tree, the dance community in the North is aware and proud of its heritage and where it comes from. Northern Ontario dancers and artists are connected to the people, geography and way of life in the North that contributes to who they are. This summer intensive aims to be one of the many branches that reach into the Canadian and International dance community. Through creating opportunities and sharing knowledge that has been learned from elsewhere in the world, branch brings home a program designed to meet the needs and interests of the Northern Ontario Dance Community.  

branch collective




Mikaela Demers

Mikaela Demers was born in Elliot Lake and spent her childhood first in Copper Cliff, and then on Manitoulin Island. Upon graduating from high school, she studied dance in Sudbury at Sudbury Secondary School, Sudbury School of Dance, Dance Evolution, Diane Boulais Studio de Danse, Arts North and with earthdancers. The time spent in Sudbury drastically changed her perspective and desire to pursue dance as a career. Demers moved to Toronto to complete a BFA in dance and currently works and lives in the city. In spite of being based in Toronto, Demers has a constant desire to remain an active member of the dance community in Northern Ontario 

For me, what I learned and the support I felt from the dance community in Sudbury is the reason I have been able to continue a life enveloped with dance. I would like to continue to learn from and in Sudbury, and find ways to give back when I can.




Heidi Strauss

Dancer/choreographer Heidi Strauss began training with Denise Vitali; in her teenage years Sudbury School of Dance was her second home.   She was one of co-founders of Sudbury’s earthdancers and is now the artistic director of adelheid, a company she began in 2008.  adelheid’s work looks at interaction between different people and groupings of people, with a specific interest in the situation of performance and how we consider each other (audience & performer) within that construct.  Heidi was dance artist in residence at the Factory Theatre (2008-2012) and a resident artist at the Theatre Centre (2013-16). Her award-winning work has toured nationally.  Heidi has choreographed for Toronto Dance Theatre, The Frankfurt Opera, The Canadian Opera Company, Volcano theatre, the Stratford Festival, and given workshops across Canada, and in the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Singapore.  Heidi received the KM Hunter Award for Dance (2012) and Dora Awards for her works this time (2010) and what it’s like (2016).

Denise Vitali

Denise Vitali began her training with Sudbury School of Ballet and completed her dance education with Tina Pel at the Arts Guild Dance Studio in Sudbury, graduating from the three year apprenticeship program for professionals. She furthered her studies in dance with courses in Halifax, Toronto and Copenhagen. Denise has been teaching in Sudbury for 33 years, opening her own studio in 1984. She performed liturgical dance as part of a Huntington University lecture series and went on to perform and choreograph liturgical dance for many churches in the Sudbury area. Since 1984, Denise has choreographed numerous musical theatre productions for Theatre Cambrian, including Hair, West Side Story and My Fair Lady. In 2005 Denise received Northern Life's Community Builder's Award for the Arts. Denise holds an Advanced Teacher's Certificate from The Society of Russian Ballet and is currently an executive member and examiner for The Society. Denise is currently teaching at Thorneloe University in the theatre program. She is also the artistic director of earthdancers  and she continues to perform - most recently with Adelheid, elleQ Dance Factory and YES Theatre.


Lauren Foy

Lauren Foy is a Sudbury-based choreographer, dancer and instructor. She majored in dance during high school and continued her training at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre, graduating as a bursary student from the Professional Training Program in 2002. In 2009, Lauren formed elleQ dance factory, to support her choreographic work, and since then created 2 full length shows- including The Imagination Project, which was supported by the Ontario Arts Council. Lauren is often a choreographer and guest performer for the earthdancers, having worked with the young company for over 10 years. Lauren recently worked on the play, Rearview, as a movement consultant at Le Théatre du Nouvel Ontario for their 45th anniversary season and collaborated with Alexandra Lee on Cello Steps, a project for dance and cello.

thank you!

A special thanks goes out to the follow artists and individuals who helped with the organization and overall success of branch. The ongoing existence and operation of this inspiring week would not happen with out your generosity and kindness. Thank you. 

Julie Balen

Linda Cartier

Debb Trahan-Pero