Samantha Mehra (BFA, MA, PhD Candidate) is a Toronto-based writer, dancer, and emerging scholar. She holds a BFA in Contemporary Dance (Simon Fraser), and a Masters in Dance Studies (York), where her research pursuits included dance criticism, dance fusion, burlesque, and butoh. As a dancer, Mehra worked with Canadian choreographers such as Emily Molnar (Vancouver), Helene Blackburn (Montreal), Paul Andre Fortier (Montreal) Rob Kitsos (Vancouver), and Peter Bingham (Vancouver). She has been a news writer and reviewer for Canada’s national dance magazine The Dance Current, a guest writer for Dance Collection Danse Magazine, and will have her first scholarly article published in an upcoming Forum For Modern Language Studies special dance issue (Oxford Journals) in the summer of 2010. Mehra has also taken on an archivist role for Toronto's Dance Collection Dance Archives, and has presented her work on Vancouver’s Kokoro Dance Company at North American conferences (such as The Society for Canadian Dance Studies [SCDS] and The Society of Dance History Scholars [SDHS]). Mehra is currently pursuing a PhD in Canada's first dance doctoral program at York University (Toronto); her dissertation aims to document Toronto's post-war dance critics. She will be among the program's first crop of graduates.
Having had a successful career as a performer, Shawn has turned his eye to choreography and dance studies. In his pursuit to create provocative works that blend movement with emotion and life with theatre, he stumbled upon an opportunity that became the platform for the rest of his work. Invited to present choreography as part of Buddies in Bad Times’ 2007 Art and Sex series, Shawn was immediately turned on to cultural representations of sexuality and gender in the West. Another invitation, this time to present work in Shanghai, caused some tension over the perceived representation of homosexuality (although that is not what the piece was about at all...). The experience brought Shawn to York, where his research is centered on the social and political implications of representing gay male identities on the theatrical stage. Described by Paula Citron as “...[one] of Toronto’s finest dancers...” (Toronto Life), Shawn’s interest in scholarly work is informed by his experience and passion as a performer and instructor. He has recently been invited to present his work at the 2010 World Dance Alliance in New York City this July.