The Georgia Straight

The Dance Current

Dance International Magazine

The Star Phoenix

Very Strong …
Bailie is a world class talent!
Victoria Times Colonist

What the Critics say…
(see below for audience response)

Vancouver’s Dancing on the Edge Festival of Contemporary Dance is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Since 1988, producer Donna Spencer has presented more than 400 choreographers – a judicious mix of various styles by dance artists from Canada and beyond. Along with the main stage shows, Spencer always includes site-specific work….three pieces that stood out from the crowd….

Hybrid Human (Jolene Bailie)

This intriguing work is inspired by sketches of robots by distinguished Winnipeg artist Wanda Koop. For Bailie, it is an exploration of artificial life and alien intelligence.

Two visual elements animate the piece. First, the five dancers (Branwyn Bundon, Jillian Groening, Krista Nicholson, Christie Peters and Tiffany Thomas) are rendered anonymous by being completely covered in black. Second, a live camera captures their movements on a large screen behind them.

But here’s the rub. Hugh Conacher’s camera work can manufacture different kinds of images. The figures are never real-life re-creations. Thus, the dancer’s movements on the screen can multiply, for example, as if they have 20 arms, or their bodies can become a collection of pixels that break up and reform, or the human figure can be reduced to a series of tiny specks or black smudges.

What we see in front of us are five black figures executing simple physical movements, both alone or together. What appears on the screen is a huge range of non-human abstractions.

With each change of image, the screen goes to static, so we know to expect a new perspective on the human body…mind-blowing.

Otherness, Snow, and Defying Gravity
The Winnipeg Review, by Stephanie Adamov
November 19, 2012

Aspects of Alterity as performed by Gearshifting Performance Works,  at the Gas Station Arts Centre, November 16, 2012

From the first beat of John Cage’s music, Aspects of Alterity thrust the audience into the world of Jolene Bailie. Her choreography used dance and motion in a way that provided a language to illustrate those intangible moments of the human experience. The emotion subtly embodied through movement in this work was a salute to Bailie’s attention to detail and overall created an impressive display of modern dance.

Alterity is a philosophical term established by Emmanuel Lévinas. The term implies a sense of ‘otherness’ and that a subject has the ability to distinguish between self and not self. Therefore, the subject has the ability to perceive alternate view points. This is illustrated through Bailie’s choreography by the contrast of different kinds of motion during the different segments of her production. It is a continuous thread that weaves through her abstract choreography.

The five highly energetic and focused performers included: Branwyn Bundon, Jillian Groening, Nina Patel, Krista Nicholson and Emma Rose. The precision exhibited by each dancer as they launched and landed from great heights was a phenomenal spectacle. Intricate combinations were executed seamlessly and flawlessly from full body wave-like entrances contrasted with stationary leg suspensions. Bundon’s robotic arm movements and Patel’s fluid solo along with numerous moments of group uniformity of motion were definitely a delight.

Despite the highly physical and demanding nature of the piece, the dancers were never out of breath. The incredible focus they each manifested never once faltered.

The dancers through their energetic movements in the work illustrate the complex and fine line between order and chaos. The variant rhythms and monotonous music seem to reflect the sound of a heart beating. This incredible life force has the potential for the audience to be on the edge of their seats or to be entranced by the movement on stage. The sudden changes can be jarring, but it all reflects the theme of ‘otherness’.

Each dancer has trained at the School of Contemporary Dancers where Jolene Bailie is a guest instructor. They were incredibly cohesive as an ensemble and seemed to have an inherent knowledge of each other’s bodies. Due to the exceptional variety of lifts and poses performed in modern dance, it is easy to see why this is a sought after quality for a group piece. Several times in the show, the dancers formed what seemed like a human jigsaw puzzle. The use of levels in coordination with the trust in each other made for a versatile display.

The performers in conjunction with the signature lighting design of Hugh Conacher seemed to glow on the stage. Conacher’s noted emphasis on side lighting exemplified the contrast of light and shadow. This design technique highlighted the muscles of the performers and attested to their individual strength as artists.

In establishing the story, the lighting translated dance transitions for the audience. Effortlessly the performers would be guided by the use of lighting to a different segment of the fifty-minute performance. The white painted floor and backdrop allowed for the contrast of the dancers in their futuristic linear white and black body suits.

As a creator, Jolene was inspired through her own lived experience for Aspects of Alterity.  She believes that the way in which we handle those intangible moments can speak volumes about our individuality. Though we all have different experiences that have the ability to leave us without words, Jolene believes that there is great strength achieved by working though these life-altering events that hone our identity.

In addition, Aspects of Alterity was also inspired by the geography of the prairies. Gearshifting Performance Works often creates pieces that stem from the psychological reactions to the environment and reflect upon observations within Canadian lifestyles. Aspects of Alterity presented a very flat, white painted floor that paid homage to the blanket of thick snow seen just outside the Gas Station lobby windows.

The creation was influenced by Bailie’s lived experience in the harsh and extreme prairie landscape, as well as inspired by her relationship with the late Rachel Browne. The passing of this iconic dance figure was certainly a huge loss to the dance community but hopefully will spark more works and creativity such as Aspects in Alterity within the dance community.

Making a human connection
Hybrid Human may be rooted in an exploration of technology, but it has a distinctly human pulse

Winnipeg-based choreographer/dancer Jolene Bailie’s Hybrid Human burst onto the scene last week in collaboration with visual artist Wanda Koop’s retrospective exhibition On the Edge of Experience. The four performances held at the Winnipeg Art Gallery were danced amid five of Koop’s massive paintings featuring tiny solitary figures dwarfed by gigantic screens, making for a jaw-dropping set bar none.

Based on Koop’s sketches dating to the early 1990s, the multi-disciplinary production was heavily influenced by omnipresent technology and modern-day robotics. Six clone-like androids (aka dancers Branwyn Bundon, Claire Marshall, Tiffany Thomas, Christie Peters, Krista Nicholson and Bailie) are virtually indistinguishable — save for cryptic symbols branded on their backs — costumed in Anne Armit’s jet-black unitards/turtlenecks and startling bug-like masks created by Brenda Belmonte. A riveting electronic score by Susan Chafe and Hugh Conacher’s media/lighting design takes us further into their brave new world.

Any show inspired by technology risks leaving the viewer cold. Bailie brilliantly succeeded at creating a starkly postmodern landscape inhabited by achingly, all too human characters. As her society of black, stick-like figures (that seem to have leapt right off Koop’s canvases) show us a day in their own hybridized lives, you can’t help but laugh, cry, and marvel at their antics that uncomfortably begin to resemble our own. When one figure collapses on the floor and appears to sob as only an android can, our hearts break as well. When another forces a partner to spin — first a game that morphs into an act of control  — it causes viewers to reflect on our own compulsive drives.

The 54-minute production plays like counterpoint against Conacher’s looming, digitized video projections. Dancers constantly shift between galleries or sit in the audience, which creates another unsettling, meta-layer of consciousness. Bailie’s choreography ranges from robotic-like body isolations to fluid rolls and extensions, with more than a few touches of her quirky artistry on display. The figures skip, turn cartwheels, do handstands, swing their legs and shake their feet like dogs that have stepped in a puddle. They perform strange, ritualistic games, re-create sacrificial ceremonies and hold solemn tribunals.

Arguably, it’s difficult to sustain almost an hour of intense physicality. Some sections begin to lag; in fact, the entire piece could be tightened. There are a few too many obsessive head jerks that recall Bailie’s signature solo Switchback. But the final scene that speaks to the need for human connection is about as good as it gets — with the entire show ranking among the best seen in years.

Hybrid Human is not a cautionary tale about technology, nor does it pretend to offer any solutions. What it offers, instead, is a glorious synergy of creative forces that compassionately addresses the vulnerable yet relentlessly technology-driven hybridized human that lurks within us all.

November, 2010
4.5 stars
Holly Harris, Winnipeg Uptown Magazine

Bailie’s brave, bold new world
Sensory Life, Infinite World, the debut ensemble work from choreographer Jolene Bailie, is a jaw-dropping boundary-pusher.

Uptown Magazine, February 25, 2010
by Holly Harris

It’s a brave, new infinite world for Winnipeg’s Jolene Bailie. The founding artistic director/choreographer of Gearshifting Performance Works last week unveiled her newest creation Sensory Life, Infinite World – a work that teems with strange life and otherworldly beings. The three-show run also marked Bailie’s first full-length ensemble work and one of the few – if only – shows presented by Gearshifing in which the 32-year-old performer does not take the stage.

Inspired by her signature solo Switchback, in which she appears as an eye-popping feral creature, Bailie returns to its fantastical world. Seven dancers – Freya Olafson, Claire Marshall, Tiffany Thomas, Mark Sawh Medrano, Emma Rose, Sarah Helmer and Tyrell Witherspoon – appear as naturalistic entities garbed in Anne Armit’s diaphanous, silvery grey costumes. The work begins with a sensual awakening, as dancers roll into various shapes and undulate atop each other. Winnipeg sound/visual artist Susan Chafe’s deliciously evocative score creates the sonic equivalent of peeling back a spiny carapace, revealing layers of soft underbelly with its multi-sections smoothly bleeding into the next.

As the work slowly unfolds, the movement vocabulary gradually shifts like an amorphous kaleidoscope. Singular moments – such as the dancers’ robotic karate chops repeated like a leitmotif, or their shaking feet and beating hands – create effective snapshots.

Quirky scenes punctuated by dancers’ blips- and-yips vocalizations add humour – and even humanity – but at times felt jarring amid Chafe’s aural mélange. ….

But, as with last April’s production of Everything’s Coming Up Roses, thiis show is a real visual stunner courtesy of lighting/video designer Hugh Conacher’s impeccable eye. The set’s rolling mounds (co-designed by Bailie with Conacher) suggest lunar dunes flanked by a large upstage screen on which the designer’s video images are projected. Synchronized scenes – such as one in which fireworks explode onscreenwhile a dancer tosses white, snow-like confetti into the air – were jaw dropping.

Bailie never ceases to surprise, continuously pushing the boundaries of the sensory world. …Bailie is to be commended for tackling the unique challenges of creating a large-scale work, tirelessly crafting her own clear vision while going for bold.

Senosry Life, Infinite World

Androgyny and depth are the two words that most characterize Jolene Bailie’s choreography.

Each was evident from the get-go in her production of Sensory Life Infinite World in this portrayal of the emergence of life from the primordial oceans leading to that violent biped, Person.

The set is sparse – a canvas sheet spread across the dance floor in landscape mode together with hills and gulleys with something resembling sand spread across. This is accompanied by Hugh Conacher’s images of water projected onto a screen. Conacher has been with Bailie for ten years and is much more than just a lighting technician – although he is one of the best at that function.

Bailie comes onto the stage to apologize for the delay as they are waiting for the approval of the building engineers leaving the packed house (even after two other performances) wondering why building engineers are involved. We will soon discover the reason.

Normally, Bailie performs solo and at the Fringe Festival. She will no longer take part in the Fringe circuit. Her solo career may also be limited as she has achieved grant funding which enables her to employ several dancers – in the case of Sensory Life, seven additional. She hasn’t involved in the dancing herself this performance which is something hopefully will be remedied as it is always a pleasure to watch her graceful, sinuous, sensual performances.
Bailie’s vision in this, her first full-length ensemble work, is impressive. She demands a great deal from her dancers many of whom are relatively new. They give back more.  ….

The opening scene calls for dancers to slither around the stage like salamanders. One of Bailie’s stylistic traits is to have different actions taking place simultaneously on remote parts of the stage giving her performances great depth. Another is androgyny in that what is expected of a male dancer, such as carrying another dancer, is also expected of a female dancer and vice versa. Thus, there is no gender role-playing. As a result, Bailie is able to create unusual dance formations which add immensely to the stage action.

Not being satisfied with having merely one of the most creative minds in dance, Bailie also has a tremendous sense of humour. This is exhibited throughout this performance as in the kung fu style movement which initially out of character but is quickly woven into the piece. It is used to announce the emergence of Person. There is also the discovery of fire scene with its squealing accompaniment which also took place at other times in the performance.

All of this is to say that watching a Jolene Bailie choreography is a delight.

February 12, 2010, The Manitoban, by John Herbert Cunningham

dance: made in canada/fait au canada

The Dance Current Magazine
April 02-4, 2009, by Michael Crabb

The latest edition of dance made in canada/fait au canada – a biennial event curated by princess productions’ Yvonne Ng, a multi-talented Toronto-based artist with a quaint aversion to uppercase letters – begins with an arresting image.

Jolene Bailie’s “Switchback”

What appears to be a helmet, with its Mohawk crest reminiscent of the kind sported by Roman centurions, floats mysteriously in a black void, but as Hugh Conacher’s effective lighting plot opens up we see that it is worn by a woman in a tight-fitting tunic with a spinal fin, a costume designed by the choreographer and Royal Winnipeg Ballet wardrobe director Anne Armit.

With Aphexx Twinn and Jared Powell’s mostly drum-generated, rumbling score as an aural backdrop, the woman, poised beside one of a number of reflective floor mats, conjures thoughts of a warrior goddess – indeed there is a good deal of chest thumping to come – or of some strange prehistoric creature. Appliquéd sparkles on helmet and fin suggest the presence of scales. Human or beast? Likely both.

The woman is Winnipeg dancer/choreographer Jolene Bailie, an extraordinarily powerful and compelling performer with some 200 concerts to her credit and a company, Gearshifting Performance Works (formerly Cuppa Jo Inc.), to produce them.

“Switchback”, the work in discussion, is a solo Bailie has been developing for several years but on the basis of its Toronto premier at d:mic/fac she might do well to leave it alone now because it looks very good just the way it is.

“Switchback” unfolds in a series of episodes performed at different locations on the Betty Oliphant Theatre’s large stage and delineated by fadeouts and subtle changes in the texture or tempo of the music. Each seems like a step in an epic journey that, while the piece itself lasts a mere twenty minutes, conveys the impression of a complete cycle in the life of its subject, ultimately returning Bailie to her starting point where her helmet is left as the only visible reminder of what has passed.

Among her many dancing attributes, Bailie is notable for intense concentration, extreme and pertinent gestural economy, an extraordinarily mobile and expressive torso and an ability to isolate and move parts of her body in disarming ways. It might be a repetitive twist of the head or odd bouncing motion, the way she composes her limbs into a striking sculptural image or laboriously hauls herself across the stage on pawed fists like a creature struggling for survival. And in “Switchback” Bailie’s character is constantly alert, as if hyper-sensitive to the imminence of unseen dangers.

6th Biennial of dance: made in canada/fait au canada
In Tune: made in canada/fait au canada

April, 2 – 4, 2009 @ at Betty Oliphant Theatre

Winnipeg’s Jolene Bailie opened the night with her signature piece Switchback. The captivating solo features Bailie as an isolated creature navigating her way around the stage. The piece begins with the spotlight focusing on a Roman helmet hanging in mid-air. Quicker than your eyes can adjust, the lights are off again, and on again, and the audience sees Bailie for the first time. She is holding herself up in a push-up position. Her head twitches back and forth in some sort of animalistic ritual, perfectly timed to a drumming score by Jared Powell and Aphexx Twinn. To further evoke animalistic emotions, Bailie’s costume resembles a bird, a horse, a reptile, and a Roman warrior. An exquisite feat to watch, Bailie’s pure athleticism is experienced through watching her perfect balance, elevation, and contortionist movements.  The movements are tightly choreographed as Bailie shifts from slashing jumps and quick movements to acute stillness. As the performance progresses, her movements become more awkward, mirroring the negative and isolating effects that civilization is having on animals and on the environment. The piece ends as it began: in total silence with only spotlight focusing on a hanging helmet — cyclical.

Bailie was technically phenomenal: her strengths and abilities were mind-blowing.

By Helen Fylactou
Mondo Magazine

A Moving Performance

CONTEMPORARY life is turning us into android-like slaves to technology.

Surrounded by phones, clocks and surveillance cameras, we’re in a dehumanizing race for success that’s more like a treadmill to nowhere.

Those ideas are hardly original. But it’s never less than fascinating to watch 31-year-old local dancer-choreographer Jolene Bailie explore them in an amazingly ambitious solo production that has its final performance today.

Everything’s Coming Up Roses is more performance art than dance. Bailie makes brilliant use of the high-ceilinged new theatre at the University of Winnipeg’s Centre for Theatre and Film, leaving it as an industrial-feeling black box with steel ladders and catwalks exposed.

Video collaborators Andrew Milne and Hugh Conacher first put the audience under unsettling scrutiny, then use roughly 20 monitors to transmit text and images throughout the show. They also skilfully project video onto the floor. The surreal production proclaims itself “a fable.” The charismatic Bailie, in a red dress inside a plastic layer, wears a headset microphone. She starts out resembling an animatronic doll. There’s a clownish quality to much of the movement, some of it tediously quirky. Absurdity is amplified by a soundtrack that varies from loping country to a retro “happy housewife” ambiance.

Things get more engaging when Bailie struts on a confining catwalk, reciting aphorisms that have the droll, riddle-like ring of her writing collaborator, poet Jem Rolls. We recognize ourselves in this pressurized puppet who tries to live up to messages like “Do it yourself!” and grab hold of rewards, which drop teasingly from the ceiling on ropes. Some of the show’s most inspired images involve toilet plungers. They suck on the poor woman’s brain or attach themselves to her back. Who hasn’t had that feeling at 5 p.m. on a weekday? The show doesn’t break ground when it mocks motivational slogans, clock-enslavement and materialism. But the script gets off some satisfying metaphors and Bailie is always magnetic.

An effective section uses live video from multiple angles to suggest disintegration of the self.

The redemptive ending takes Everything’s Coming Up Roses to a place of remarkable artistry. The synthesis of a surprising baby-boomer song, Bailie’s heartfelt performance and a stunning visual effect is profoundly moving.

The Green Zone

Prepare to be astonished by the artistry of Winnipeg dancer Jolene Bailie. Her every movement is packed with so much power and subtlety that you’re afraid to take your eyes off her for fear of missing a new revelation. She’s a shapeshifter, using her body to create riveting images at every moment.

Take her ominous and otherworldly opening piece, Switchback. Her head knocks from side to side and her prone body hops from the floor. Like a prehistoric reptile, she’s elastic and brittle.

Then there’s her short video, Jo’s Toes. Who knew ten digits could say so much? Her coy, affectionate and wistful toes are so expressive, they could be the window to the soul.

Finally Bailie transforms statistics of the 2003 Iraq invasion into emotional truth. In The Green Zone, cold numbers (1,500 A-1s, 505 cruise missiles, several hundred targets) are imbedded with new meaning. With a piece of string she shows us how easily lines can be drawn and destroyed.

Even non-fans of dance will be blown away by the incredible strength and beauty of Jolene Bailie’s work.

5 Spades
CBC Winnipeg
, July 17, 2008
Iris Yudai

A Singular Creation
Joyce SoHo, New York City

Jolene Bailie, according to her program notes, has performed an astounding 200 solo concerts. That partially explains her poise, intensity and comfort level during her Gearshifting Performance Works season at the Joyce SoHo February 21-23, 2008. But as her own artistic director, she smartly chose two other choreographers to join her on the program, who, though cognizant of her strength and endurance, were able to reflect other sides of this intriguing performer.

A pre-show video by Hugh Conacher was playing in loop as the audience came in. Jo’s Toes was exactly that and was the only really carefree moment in the evening, especially as Bailie’s feet remained suspended and wiggly and doing other things they are not supposed to do.

More compelling was Switchback to a forceful drumming score by Jared Powell and Aphex Twinn. In an outstanding costume, created in collaboration with Anne Armit and the Royal Winnipeg ballet Wardrobe Department, Bailie resembled a bird, a reptile, and a warrior. It featured a Mohawk-like headpiece and an exaggerated fin along her spine. As this isolated creature she moved over a reflective floor covering, squatting, arching, rolling slowly over an through her shoulder and hip joints. With precision she strikes an off center pose. She rest as one foot is stuck, or folded into, the crease of a best knee. Brutally pulling herself across the slick flooring the slide is laborious. Repetitive head turns, like the twitching of a woodpecker or the twist of an assembly line screw, secure the sense that Bailie gives herself outlandish tasks. In the end the image is of a universal, beleaguered being, romanticized or idolized but still alone.

Marie-Josee Chartier, a choreographer, who like Bailie, is primarily based in Canada, created Terrain to music by Richard-G Boucher. A bee-like drone follows the prone Bailie as she undulates 360 degrees. Pushing down with her hands she shows off her sculptural body, going to extremes as she lifts up her hands and legs away from the floor. Armit’s lovely, sheer unitard as the right mixture of fit and looseness as Bailie continues to reach for the end range. Bridging on her hips she rises to the tips of her toes. Walking backwards on the balls of her feet she jack knifes her torso. Bouncing in a squat she hangs on her ligaments. Outside forces plague Bailie’s character in this dance. Her wariness, eyeing of her surroundings and close contact with the floor are reminiscent of the previous dance but just a notch less aggressive. When she finally gets up and walks around, Conacher’s lighting provides a magical touch, changing and warming the color tones. A winding down of windy sound signals the ending. Bailie reaches out. In this Terrain, there is only emptiness again.

Bailie’s currency is abstraction of her body but in walking thru myself, Joe Laughlin throws concrete gestures into Bailie’s sharpness. Making her way around a set of oddly angles wooden letters during a scratchy sounding score of Sheila Chandra and the Ganges Orchestra she plays East Indian dance, rocks and weight shifts, repeats patterns of slapping, turning, falling down and jumping up. She walks upstage, turns, smiles, and a “The End” sign lights up. Not really having a beginning, middle or an end, Bailie’s program stands on it’s own, as she does. With only short pauses between each piece Bailie shapes the time with her own body and it’s inherent pace. She seems to erase away irrelevance and is one of the few dancer/choreographers I’ve seen recently who presents an integrated, completed image of music, costume, lighting, and movement. I want to keep seeing Bailie’s work. She’s a great ambassador, for the north of the border contingent.

Marilyn Russo
Attitude, The Dancer’s Magazine, Vol. 22, No.1, Spring 2008

Something Old, Something New
Jolene Bailie offers a mix-bag showcase in Evolution

Contemporary dancer Jolene Bailie is shifting into high gears these days.  Her one-woman company, Cuppa Jo, was officially renamed Gearshifting Performance Works last December. She currently has two new world premieres under her belt, including a newly commissioned solo from acclaimed Canadian choreographer, Marie-Josee Chartier.

And now she’s New York city bound, slated to perform three solo at the inaugural INBOUND Festival at the Joyce SoHo Theatre, February 21-23. The festival showcases companies from all across North America, and promises to give Bailie an increased presence on the international stage.

Thus it is that a capacity crowd was offered a sneak peak of the New York program on February 10, including Chartier’s Terrain (2008), inspired by the choreographers admiration of the Prairie landscape and the writings of Anne Michaels.

The Toronto-based artist is perhaps best known for her harrowing work, Screaming Popes, presented last April by Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers.

Bailie’s signature piece, Switchback (2006), has been going through its own evolution as well. The riveting solo features the dancer as an otherworldly, feral, creature that jerks and pounds its way through the rumbling score of Jarred Powell and Aphex Twinn.

The new version is more polished, with Bailie even appearing as a quasi-Roman gladiator, thanks to RWB’s designer’s Anne Armits revised costume. …the dancer’s mind-numbing physicality – which objectifies her body as she contorts her limbs into amphibious appendages – will dazzle those seeing the work for the first time…raw tension and volatile energy….

Three younger dancers from Bailie’s mentorship program, SURGE – Sarah Helmer, Emma Rose and Mark Sawh Medrano, all students at the School of Contemporary Dancers – performed her Crowding (2008), a kinetic exploration of social claustrophobia accompanied by an ear-blasting musical score by Shaylor.

Vancouver’s Joe Laughlin’s walking thru myself (2004), featured Bailie as ingénue, stepping through a jumbled, cryptic maze of letters strewn about the stage. Here the artist’s chameleon-like versatility can make even an exploded alphabet (sort of) make sense, and she conjured stories simply with the wave of an arm and a kiss of her foot.

Uptown Magazine, February 14, 2008
Holly Harris

Private i
Studio 16

Winnipeg dance artist Jolene Bailie is a festival favourite, and no wonder. Her latest meditation on life offers an hour of evidence that innovation is everything in performance art.

Bailie begins by dancing in silence. Not for her, mind you, because she has the ubiquitous iPod that allows so many people to tune out reality.

Eventually she’ll let us in on the secret, by sidling up to a microphone and revealing the lush sound of Toronto musician Paul AuCoin and his “indie supergroup” the Hylozoists.

Hylozoism is the belief that all matter has life. Bailie and her sparkly shoes certainly do, and with that hypnotic music now freed from its little earphones, we can delight in watching the dancer delight in her angular momentum.

Crafted by Calgary’s very clever Denise Clarke, Private i ranges in its choreography from the broad humour of a dance motif rooted in jealousy, right down to the dancer’s toes, to a “horrors of war” segment that highlights the brutality of what happens when bullets meet victims.

Thursday, September 13, 2007
Peter Birnie, Vancouver Sun

Private i
Westbury Theatre

In the silent prelude to private i, a funny, mischievously insightful new solo show starring Winnipeg’s remarkable dancer/actor Jolene Bailie, we meet double life-size images of a character smiling a secret smile of self-satisfaction as she dances to her iPod.

Soon this hologrammatic pair is joined by a third version of the character, who dances, too, and whispers breathily, smugly into a standup mike at the podium that she’s “listening to the music of an indie super-group from To-ron-to.” It’s a word she pronounces like someone delivering a coup de grace of one-upmanship.

Soon she’s revealing, in confidential asides and little fantasias of physical movement, her thoughts on “the philosophical belief that all matter has life … which I found very reassuring somehow,” her new sparkly $200 Betsy Johnson high heels with their heart-shaped buckle, and her soul, which she’s nearly positive she has. She is equally awestruck by all three; in fact, she’s awestruck by the intensity of everything she thinks and feels, and wears. “I’m a very dynamic person. … It sounds like I’m complimenting myself, but I’m not.”

Delight in the self glints everywhere in this clever, wicked little piece by One Yellow Rabbit’s brilliant dancer/muse Denise Clarke. Essentially comic in inspiration, it gives voice, legs, and Bailie’s precise physicality to the pop-culture impulse that makes us feel profound. It dances the democratization of the big emotions, the complex thoughts. It’s what happens when they’re filtered through the shallow end, by someone who thinks she’s deep.

In one funny scene, the character is flung by the toe through a complex choreography as she roots out the first hints of jealousy. In another, the character, whose favourite segue is “anyways …”, prides herself on her glorious responsiveness to the tragedy of war, which she enacts with extravagant self-regard. “I would hate to take a bullet,” she whispers, delighted by her own responsiveness.

Anyways, private i is cheeky, sly, a wee bit mean like the best satire, and fun. And I’m prepared to argue it’s the first piece of modern dance theatre in history to star a character who brags about using Wikipedia.

Thursday, August 16, 2007
Liz Nicholls, Edmonton Journal

The Big Secret Threatre

Everyone brings a certain set of expectations with them to see experimental dance theatre, even if they just expect to be bewildered by it. Safe to say though, that no one ever expected to see Jolene Bailie, a Winnipeg-based dancer who has performed everywhere from Montreal to New York, singing an acapella version of What Becomes of the Broken Hearted, the old Motown hit, in a husky whisper straight out of a Berlin cabaret.

That’s only one of the surprises that awaits audiences who check out Private i, which opened Monday at the Big Secret as part of the Calgary Fringe. Private i, which was created by One Yellow Rabbit’s Denise Clarke, is a callback to an earlier fringe age, one in which an artist takes the stage with not much more than the conviction that their talent–in this case, Bailie’s got lots–and their public musings about their private self will interest an audience for an hour.

It’s a bit dangerous, this old-school stuff. Part of me likes the cute slide shows and the cathartic anecdotes with lots of laugh lines. It’s a little unnerving watching Bailie explore her psyche, her soul and her affinity for old Motown tunes, although it’s kind of cool, too. Underneath her high concept, experimental, non-linear veneer, Bailie’s got a pretty good sense of humour, too. She amuses (us) as much as she muses to herself about the whereabouts of her soul, what it must be like to take a bullet, and other assorted deep thoughts. Movement-wise, I wouldn’t pretend to know what I’m talking about. I do know that I liked what I saw. Bailie’s dance delivers an emotional punch–and I’ve always been a sucker for a classic Motown tune.

August 14, 2007
The Calgary Herald

Private i
rating: A
WCD Studio Theatre

Winnipeg dancer Jolene Bailie once again dazzles with a creative wonder. In Private i, Bailie bends both her physical and mental prowess to reach beyond pure dance, incorporating spoken-word musings between dance pieces. Bailie is an engaging and endearing performer. Private i is a thoughtful, daring endeavour. With everything from odes to beautiful, glittering Betsey Johnson shoes (most definitely worth the adoration) to an a cappella rendition of the Motown classic, What Becomes of the Broken Hearted, Private i is a uniquely wonderful work showcasing Bailie’s myriad talents

July 26, 2007
Uptown Magazine

WCD Studio Theatre

This endearingly quirky, life-affirming work was specially created for one of Winnipeg’s foremost dance soloists, Jolene Bailie, by one of Calgary’s top dance names, Denise Clarke.

Bailie portrays a naive, soul-searching young woman who shares with the audience her iPod playlist (hence the “i” of the title), and bursts into exuberant dance numbers that are a joy to watch. The highlight is a brilliantly silly anti-war number in which she imagines being caught in a hail of bullets. The lush recorded songs are by The Hylozoists, whose retro use of instruments like organ, trumpet, vibes and cymbals is an ideal fit for the character’s huge, often dreamy, emotions.

…Bailie is a delight from her expressive eyebrows to her bare feet. Those feet rebel against her in a tour-de-force of physical comedy, after she boasts that she can subdue feelings of jealousy by confining them to her toes. Yeah, right.

July 22, 2007
Alison Mayes
Winnipeg Free Press


Winnipeg dance fans need no introduction to Jolene Bailie, and probably don’t need to be reading this review: they already know she’s a rising star. But for those unfamiliar with the oft-intimidating waters of contemporary dance, now is the time to dip your toes without fear of being in over your head.

Created for Bailie by Calgary’s Denise Clarke, Private i gets personal with a series of dances and short monologues exploring the strengths and weaknesses of the human experience. Bailie delivers the words in a breathy hush before whirling into motion, channeling everything from exuberance to envy with power, poise, and control.

What’s even more fascinating than Bailie’s fluid body, though, is her face. She has an immense capability for expression, with the cheekbones of a supermodel and the eyebrows of a character actor. In a provocative physical outburst on war and fear, her straining jaw and silent screams speak even louder than her mile-long limbs.

Bailie never stumbles, but the pacing sometimes does: though the silent intro, featuring Bailie grooving to her iPod, is hypnotizing, it also has soporific effects, and the extended plug for Toronto band The Hylozoists is cheesy. But the dancing and the words are exhilarating.

July 22, 2007
Reviewed by: Melissa Martin for CBC

IPod generation dances to the sounds of the 70’s
Bailie is a virtuoso who holds nothing back, in her muscles or in her heart

The young woman wearing earphones is lost in a private groove to a song on her white iPod. She looks like a shallow ditz, bopping and posing to an inaudible soundtrack. Her glittery high heels are a fashion crime. Like who does she think she is, Paris Hilton?

In life, you never get to find out what’s between the ears of such a cardboard passerby. She remains flat and illusory, like the tricky, hologram like figure who appears at the start of the show.

When Winnipeg dance soloist Jolene Bailie, 29, approached Calgary choreographer Denise Clarke, 50, to create a work especially for her, the result was Private i, a piece that spills out the melodramatic passions and heartaches of such as iPod princess, an impressionable things who hasn’t ye discovered cynicism – or good taste.

This dippy diva’s “really, really, really, really, really” big emotions and anti-war solu baring aren’t expressed like an MTV video, nor like the contemporary pieces that Bailie often performs.

The style here is more like a variety show put on by sensitive girl of the ’60’s or ’70’s in her bedroom, with a stack of LP’s for a score. That makes it especially endearing for women of Clarke’s vintage, though you don’t have to recall Carol Burnett’s dancers to appreciate its sweet nostalgic feel.

You can catch today’s 4 p.m. closing performance, and Bailie will be touring the one-hour show to fringe festivals, including Winnipeg’s, this summer.

Bailie who has never spoken before on stage, gains a whole new dimension as a performer in Private i. Her naive but striving-for-wisdom character speaks in an airhead voice into a microphone at a lectern. She introduces the most adored songs on her playlist – occasionally kissing the iPod – and throws herself into sincere, borderline goofy dance numbers woven out of delightful ballet, jazz and showbiz cliches.

Of course, an artistic cliche isn’t one the first time you encounter it – that’s why our girl can be so moved by the corny lyrics of the Motown song What becomes of the Broken Hearted.

All the other songs are written by Paul Aucoin and performed on disc by Toronto’s The Hylozoists. They’re both fresh and retro feeling, often lushly scored with horns, organ, harp and other warm, happy sounds that aren’t usually encountered in contemporary dance these days.

That seems to be intentional for Clarke and Bailie – to make an exuberant, unpretentious show that even features a corny heart-shaped spotlight as it pokes loving fun at an awkward girly stage. there’s room for the piece to get funnier as it evolves, but one can’t imagine it better danced.

Bailie is a virtuoso who holds nothing back, in her muscles or in her heart. She can almost out-emote Evelyn Hart, whom she brings to mind in her ballet movements. Come to think of it, now that Evelyn’s out of the picture as Winnipeg’s Dance sweetheart, it’s probably time for Jolene to take the heart-shaped spot.

May 06, 2007
Alison Mayes
Winnipeg Free Press

2006 Year in Review: Stepping it up
One special night last fall, dancer-turned choreographer Jolene Bailie metamorphosed into a mysterious bug/lizard creature in a standout performance that captivated all at Studio 303. Dressed in a costume that had echoes of exoskeleton, Bailie took the life cycle of an insect as a starting point for this succinct choreography. Switchback showcased her strength, flexibility and presence, which were all heightened by an intense driving soundtrack. Born and raised in Winnipeg, she has developed a must-see rep on the Fringe circuit. Keep an eye out for this one.

December 28, 2006
Marites Carino
Montreal Mirror


You won’t see more skill on stage at the Fringe: Jolene Bailie is a solo dancer at the top of her game. Of the four pieces on this program, Escape, a 1955 work by Anna Sokolow, held the most interest for me, with its melancholy, party-girl bravura. Joe Laughlin’s walking thru myself is a giddy plunge into the fluid world beyond words. And Bailie’s own Switchback evokes the brutally mechanical beauty of insects. If only more theatre were this freely associative and formally adventuresome.

September 14, 2006
Colin Thomas
The Georgia Straight, Vancouver

Riveting display of creativity and strength

On the cover of the program for the Fringe dance production Switchback, the subtitle reads “accessible and artistically daring.” Few would disagree that modern dance is an embodiment of the artistically weird and wonderful. However, considering the fundamental relationship modern dance holds with the abstract aesthetic, some eyebrows may be raised at the idea that it is “accessible.”

Performed by Canadian soloist Jolene Bailie, Switchback is a modern dance act that succeeds in achieving a surprising level of accessibility. The show is divided into four 15-minute performances, beginning with the title set Switchback, which was choreographed by Bailie and “inspired by insect imagery.” Performed on a black stage framed by black curtains, Bailie’s sheer blue leotard and multicoloured mohawk that extends from her head down her back is dramatic and highlights her phenomenal core strength, supple back and flexibility. Influenced by contortionism and yoga, the piece is characterized by poses held on or close to the floor for extended periods of time, and is punctuated with graceful and forceful transitions between poses. As provocative as a peacock’s bravado, it is a riveting display of physical strength and visual creativity, and the best of the four pieces.

The second piece, “Short Voyage,” concerning “hidden anxieties and emotions,” is the most abstract and perhaps least accessible work of the show. However, Bailie inhabits the desperation of her character with such sincerity that it is difficult not to be affected by her performance. She is able to shift from deliberate to unwieldy movements flawlessly and makes use of an impressive array of facial expressions.

Escape” is the third performance in the series and introduces some black chairs as an addition to the otherwise bare stage. Languid, dreamy movements and costuming distinguish this piece, and give balanced contrast to the pose-based Switchback and the conceptually abstract “Short Voyage.” Bailie captures the work’s themes of desire, eroticism and bliss, as well as its message that the sole pursuit of sexual satisfaction often leads only to emptiness and frustration. Partly because of its balletic overtones, “Escape” gives the strongest proof that if beautiful choreography is left in the hands of a talented performer such as Bailie, modern dance is not only accessible but also moving.

Walking thru myself” is the final piece and mindful of the quirky spirit of the Fringe Fest. There are random, wood-block letters strewn on the floor instead of the black chairs, and Bailie wears a short black wig and a gauzy, lime-green dress. The choreography is spastic, quirky, and reminiscent of both the abstract art of Salvador Dali and the colourful film Àmelie. Bailie maintains a steady current of intrigue and entertainment nonetheless.

Bailie delivers a compelling performance and inhabits each piece with the ease of a chameleon taking on a new camouflage in the rainforest. Switchback is indeed a slice of modern dance that tastes of both artistic daring and accessibility.

The Ubyssy
Jessica Roberts-Farina
, September 19th, 2006

Don’t try this dance at home

I’ve been a Jolene Bailie fan ever since seeing her dance at the Victoria Fringe in 2003. Now she has returned with a set of solo dances that once again showcase her jaw-dropping artistry.

The through line in these four contemporary pieces is Bailie’s physical strength, dexterity and her proud, leonine grace. The entry into her world in her self-choreographed first piece, Switchback. Inspired by the life cycle of insects, the dancer – wearing a blue crest suggestive of a centurion’s helmet – enters to repetitive, industrial music. Bailie, who’s tremendously flexible and strong, executes a series of seemingly impossible poses, such as “sitting” with only her palms touching the floor, her legs wrapped around her arms. While holding such acrobatic positions, she pulsates in a subtle, thrumming way reminiscent of a larva about to hatch.

The music breaks down into quirky motifs that spiral randomly like figures in a Miro painting. Bailie’s movements become violent and desperate, like a winged creature emerging from it’s shell. There are more don’t-try-this-at-home feats, such as jumps executed from a prone push-up position. Ultimately, the dancer becomes a metaphor for nature’s all-powerful life force, portrayed as beautiful, desperate and ferocious.

On Tuesday night the Bill Evans choreographed Broken Columns was also marked by Bailie’s virtuoso athleticism, although this time it’s sense of anguish and violence suggested not so much nature as oppression. Poses in which the dancer flung back her head brought to mind Picasso’s Guernica (the piece was inspired by Frida Kahlo and the political situation in the Middle East).

The dancer’s touching resurrection of Anna Sokolow’s 1955 work, Escape, was also successful. Joe Laughlin’s walking thru myself was a fluffy dessert offering in which Bailie assumed the guise of a pixie-ish gamin. This hour of dance was terribly impressive. That one can experience such artistry is, to me, absolutely astonishing.

August 31, 2006
Adrian Chamberlain
Victoria Times Colonist

Though technical skill, artistry and precision that engage every centimetre of her frame, Jolene Bailie brings a fourth dimension to the human body. The five solo dances include a video and two works from world-renowned choreographers. Watching her playful choreography in Switchback is akin to spying on a twitchy, athletic insect through a microscope. In Broken Columns, she portrays images of turmoil from visual artist Frida Kahlo’s paintings, and then interprets modern dance pioneer Anna Sokolow’s flowing, dramatic Escape (1955). Bailie creates herself yet again in walking thru myself, a lighthearted journey through Sesame Street alphabet letters, a piece that was interestingly strange.

August 24,
Vue Weekly, Edmonton


Undoubtedly very few dancers have the chops to carry off what Jolene Bailie accomplishes in an hour. With classy choreography from the likes of Bill Evans and Anna Sokolow, elegantly pared down costumes and sets, and impressively fiery physical intensity, she makes modern dance spring to life for every neophyte, and thrills every connoiseur. Highlights include Bailie’s new work Switchback, an incredible contortionist’s display which lends weight to the old adage that a truly great dancer knows how to lend weight to a pause, and Joe Laughlin’s fanciful walking thru myself . Be sure to come early to catch the pre-show video, A Short Voyage, which captures Bailie’s performance of a work choreographed en-plein-air by Marie-Josee Chartier.

August 21, 2006
Celia Nicholls
See Weekly, Edmonton

Powerhouse performer fashions a species
To all you who are leery of “modern dance” (you know who you are and I am one of you) or regard the term “dance theatre” as one of the great oxymorons of the modern entertainment industry, I bring news from the Fringe. Be not afraid. There is Jolene Bailie, of Winnipeg’s Cuppa Jo Solo Dance.

She is a mesmerizing performer who reinvents the body, and the species, in the title number of this startling, unexpectedly accessible quartet of pieces. To a superb percussion score (Jared Powell and Aphex Twinn) Bailie gives us 20 minutes in the life of an exotic, blue, helmeted lizard-esque creature, watchful, orientated always toward the light. Sometimes the creature waits, pulsing, poised on a limbless, asymmetrical body. Sometimes it inches ahead by a kind of dry land swimming locomotion. The precision of the physicality, the staccato flickers of the head, fashion a species before our very eyes.

Bailie is a powerhouse; you feel sure she could scuttle through the Fringe on one arm and carry a lighting board on the opposite foot, if she had the mind to it.

In other pieces, Bailie is utterly transformed. Bill Evans’ 2004 Broken Columns is inspired by Frida Kahlo. There’s a charmingly expressive piece about our social interactions, set to a jazzy score. And there’s a witty finale about our relationship to language, in which Bailie propels herself in a quirky fashion through a landscape of disembodied letters and recurring verbal motifs (“Not a word in the sky”). It’s unhinged from narrative, true, but it’s theatrical. And it doesn’t have to be explained.

August 20, 2006
Liz Nicholls
The Edmonton Journal

Those who missed Winnipeg modern dancer Jolene Bailie’s solo show last April have another shot to see this dynamo in action.

The one-hour show takes it title from her fiendishly difficult SWITCHBACK (2006), a 20-minute work in which she appears as a lone lizard-like occupant in some strangely feral world. Bailie is fearless on stage as she falls, crawls, compulsively jerks her head and twists herself into the impossible.

Bailie shows off her wonderful theatricality in Rachel Browne’s gender-bender Freddy (1990), and her growing choreographic skills in Gear Shifting (2006), performed by students Ruth Levin and Emma Rose.

The abstract walking thru myself (2004) may be the toughest sell for the uninitiated. But keep your eyes on this one. You never know what Cuppa Jo will do next.

July 22, 2006
Holly Harris
The Winnipeg Free Press

Cuppa Jo is Jolene Bailie, a Winnipeg dancer, choreographer and dance teacher with ambitious vision. Bailie showcases her power and control in the self-choreographed title piece, in which she becomes a lizard-like creature. Most fun, though are the world premiere Gear Shifting, a fast-paced piece of synchronization for students Ruth Levin and Emma Rose, and a reprise of Joe Laughlin’s walking thru myself, a whimsical romp through an alphabet field which suggests that some people can be just as idiosyncratic with movement as they are with speech. Bailie’s interpretation of Rachel Browne’s Freddy, meanwhile, allows her to combine the best of SWITCHBACK and walking thru myself – as a cross-dressing woman-to-man in the Cabaret era of pre-Nazi Germany she is at once flowing and controlled.

July 27, 2006
John Kendle
Uptown Magazine

Machine-gun precision. Visually it’s kinetic and surreal, with the sinewy Bailie skilfully morphing between reptilian creature and mechanical android.

July 13, 2006
Toronto Eye Magazine

Being fluent in dance is not a prerequisite for enjoying Jolene Bailie’s Switchback…a fantastic sampling of awe-inspiring talent.

July 19, 2006
Winnipeg Sun

Jo’s a Real Pro
Bailie impresses with stunning dance presentation

Switchbacks are not often seen on the Prairies. This topography boast no steep hills, so the zig-zag heights are unfamiliar to people used to ‘farmer turns’ and driving on squared off mile roads.

Still, Winnipeg modern dance fans were given a sense of the abruptness of such terrain when Jolene Bailie – the Jo in Cuppa Jo – premiered her Switchback last week.

The 20-minute work is a fantastic realization of Bailie’s physicality and choreographic imagination. Wearing a gold headdress adorned with a blue mohawk, which matched a blue fin on her back, Bailie conjured a day in the life of an amorphous, malleable creature, from dawn until dusk.

What a day it was too. With amazing control and dexterity, Bailie arched, slithered , crawled and contorted herself across the entire stage. She walked on her knuckles, stood on her hands with her legs slung over her shoulders (think about that for a moment), and even conjured real fear and tension with a set of alarmed, repetitive neck twists.

Set to minimalist rhythms courtesy of Jarred Powell and Aphex Twin. Switchback is a spell binding display destined to become Bailie’s signature piece for years to come.

Significant as it was, Switchback was only one of a half-dozen other pieces offered by Bailie in her 90-minute program.

This collection was billed as ’50 years of modern dance’, given that its earliest works, two vignettes called Escape and The End? come from Anna Sokolow’s Rooms, which debuted in 1955.

Far from being dated, these short pieces came alive with Bailie’s expressive performances. With and actors concentration, she completely captured the angst and despair of the scenes. While the movements may have seemed more classically orientated that those of current modern, it was obvious that Sokolow was breaking barriers in the 50’s.

Another dance icon from an earlier age, Isadora Duncan, was the inspiration for Jose Limon’s Primavera, a diaphanous, sprightly jaunt that opened the show. Dressed in a simple nude bodysuit garnished only by a flyaway throw of green chiffon, Bailie exulted in Limon’s expression of the freedom of unrestricted movement.

A Short Voyage, by Canada’s Marie Josee Chartier, was presented her as a short film by Bailie’s collaborator Hugh Conacher. Featuring the dancer outdoors in a farmer’s field on a bleak autumn day, the movie was a study in the interaction between choreography and landscape. It worked because of its exquisite setting – a large, leaf-bare tree is a key image – and Bailie’s absorption in her role.

Stephanie Ballard’s Mara closed the evening. Set to music of Camille Saint-Seans, this is a hair-swirling piece that recalls Margie Gillis in its use of the tools at the dancers disposal. If Switchback was a taut, controlled work, Mara was its opposite – an update of Limon in its exultant celebration of the body.

Contemporary Dancers’ School student Emma Rose welcomed the audience with a playful, pre-show Bailie piece titled The Bathing Ya-Ya. Rose frolicked and splashed about in a small tub to the music of Peggy Lee and Nelson Riddle in a way that underlined the playful movement of children – which often inspires the dances of adults.

May 04, 2006
John Kendle
Uptown Magazine

Performance full of power, promise
Striking work from local dancer

The bizarre, lizard-like creature in her newest dance work, Switchback, is an apt metaphor for her own career.

The Winnipeg performer and choreographer is quickly becoming known as an artistic chameleon who effortlessly slides among a multitude of worlds, portraying everything from the sublime to the downright disturbing.

Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers’ third show of the season presents the local dynamo’s one-woman company, Cuppa Jo. Rooms With a View opened Thursday for a four-show run. It’s a program of six works that span 50 years of modern dance.

Bailie has been making her mark mostly as a performer of other choreographers’ work. If her own recent creative foray is any indication of what’s to come, audiences should beat a path to her next show.

The world premiere of Switchback – one of two works on the program that Bailie choreographed herself – features her as some kind of unearthly reptile with imagery ripped out of a parallel universe. With distinct overtones of Montreal-based choreographer Marie Chouinard’s beastly inventions of the 1980’s, Bailie’s angular, repetitive movements creates a feral world that is pedestrian, quirky, and sinister all at once.

Rich visuals – including a delicious spiny costume co-created with Anne Armit – are matched by brute physicality as she falls, crawls and compulsively jerks her head through the 20-minute work. Her all-hell-breaking-loose finale creates a real sense of danger. You don’t know whether to fear or feel for the unworldly creature.

Some of the pieces sections feel suspended and slow. Nevertheless, Bailie’s images are so potent that one doesn’t really mind. An electronic score by Jarred Powell and Aphex Twin adds its own rumbling power.

The program also includes a hot-off-the-press video, A Short Voyage, shot outside the city with only a majestic oak for backdrop. The dancer creates an intriguing relationship between herself and the tree, as she gambols around its roots. Long shots by lighting designer Hugh Conacher evoke a strong sense of place.

Mara is a work that Bailie has performed for many years. A hair dance of the first order, Stephanie Ballard originally choreographed this solo in 1989 for the great Margie Gillis. Bailie, who shares Gillis’s trademark long tresses, rise – literally – to the pieces challenges and effectively manoeuvres her flowing dress through various sea-goddess guises. It’s not easy to follow on an icon’s footsteps, but Bailie staked her own claim on this work years ago and performs it with conviction.

The audience was treated to a pre-show performance of The Bathing Ya-Ya, a second in Cuppa-Jo’s Ya-Ya series. School of Contemporary Dancers student Emma Rose, set in a clawfoot tub of water, splished and splashed her way through a medley of Peggy Lee hits.

Although it is fascinating (and important) to reflect of modern dance’s heritage, the art form – by its very nature – has always pushed itself into new territory. There is a risk of creating museum shows that present only older works, but fortunately Bailie has already earned her stripes as a restless innovator.

Rooms With a View may be billed as showcasing 50 years of dance, but it also provides a cross check at where this wonderfully versatile artists has come from, and the promising direction which she is heading.

April 29, 2006
Holly Harris
The Winnipeg Free Press

Bailie’s Rooms: Short and Suite

The challenge of interpreting and performing some of modern dances most renowned works in the past half-century hasn’t affected Jolene Bailie’s personal flair.

The Winnipeg dancer’s new show, Rooms With a View, is a bite-sized sampling of the arts founders, representing New York pioneers Anna Sokolow, Jose Limon and the form’s founder, Isadora Duncan. Bailie respects the recipe for each morsel, but she’s added her own kick.

Besides, you know it’s going to be a good show when the show starts before the show. Even if you do feel a little Peeping Tomish as you watch pre-show performer Emma Rose wiggle around a bubble bath through a clear curtain.

Don’t get the wrong idea – Rooms With a View is kid-friendly. Bailie choreographed The Bathing Ya-Ya, a light yet dangerous (it’s easy to slip in the tub) piece to get the audience in the mod-dance mood.

Bailie maintains a lively pace when she burst on stage for 1971’s Primavera, her first of six solos spanning 50 years of contemporary dance. Embodying the late Duncan in her carefree youth, a smiling Bailie prances around fairylike and free, while maintaining a sense of control that reflects her nearly 15 years of experience. And while Primavera is a work of dance great Limon, Bailie passes it off as her own, rather than some student who learned the choreography.

The sunshine literally sets in the next solo, a gritty video entitled A Short Voyage. Directed by Hugh Conacher, the film was taped near a lone oak tree in a vacant field off Highway 1 and features Bailie bounding around the prairie grass, then suddenly restricted in a pile of leaves amid the enchanting dusk.

A Short Voyage opens the audience’s perspective, making it an ideal transition to the premiere of Bailie’s eclectic piece, Switchback – the core performance of the night.

A spotlight reveals Bailie in her blue suit and amphibian-like headgear. is she a reptile or a bug or what? “I am a real thing, and that’s just who I am,” Bailie said in an interview. Yep, that explains it. And through her jolting, demanding choreography and the pounding industrial soundtrack, you can feel this being struggling to get through, uh, whatever they’re going through.

To keep variety alive, Sokolow’s 1950’s works Escape and The End? follow. They’re so short, you wonder why Bailie ravelled to New York to learn them. But adapting to the retro movements was a task she needed time to master.

For the kids in the crowd, accessible closer Mara by local choreographer Stephanie Ballard sees Bailie as an untamed, mermaid-like sea goddess, shimmying like a belly dancer and getting her legs caught up in her lengthy purple gown. Somehow she makes it look graceful.

April 28th, 2006
Lindsay Ward
The Winnipeg Sun

That Rare Breed Called Soloist
Chasing Bliss by Jolene Bailie for Cuppa Jo Solo Dance

by Kaija Pepper for The Dance Current Magazine
Vancouver: September 10-18, 2005
It’s not easy to be a solo dancer, filling out a program and keeping the audience engaged and focussed all by yourself. Margie Gillis does it brilliantly; so does Peggy Baker. And so does the up-and-coming Jolene Bailie.

The twenty-seven-year-old Winnipeg dancer is busy establishing herself as one of that rare breed called soloist. Last March, Bailie was at the Ninth International Solo Dance-Theatre Festival in Stuttgart, and the six performances of Chasing Bliss at the Vancouver Fringe Festival are part of her third national Fringe tour.

In Chasing Bliss, Bailie performs as if she is in love with the act of dancing, sweeping the audience up with her in the exhilarating physicality of her art form. The mixed bill of four solos was well chosen, especially for the theatre crowd who attends the Fringe. It includes lots of character-driven movement, with passion and humour more often than mysterious angst. Chasing Bliss is a warm, accessible show, the kind that makes everyone understand why someone would be attracted to this art form in the first place. The vitality of the moment was tangible, and worries about what the works were about fell by the wayside. Not that Bailie panders to the lowest common denominator. It’s just that in her hands and feet even the most modern abstractions become the bliss.

Bailie has a wide-ranging repertoire, on this program presenting choreography that spans decades and countries. One work is a tribute by Mexican-American choreographer José Limón to Isadora Duncan, the Dionysian innovator who danced barefoot on early twentieth-century stages. Limón’s 1971 “Dances for Isadora”, set to Frederic Chopin, was mounted on Bailie by Limón Dance Company artistic associate and past dancer Nina Watt.

Bailie presented the five-part work at July 2005’s Dancing on the Edge Festival. Here, we saw an excerpt, “La Patrie”. Why the present performance, which I saw on opening night, was more nuanced and emotionally rich is hard to say, although at the time of the Edge show, Bailie was in the midst of a punishing schedule and had arrived in Vancouver very late the night before she opened. In any case, instead of the full-length outline we saw at the Edge, this was a miniature but complete portrait of Duncan in full-blown revolutionary mode. In a flowing red tunic, Bailie turns and skips, her arms flung wide as if embracing all the political ideals Duncan championed after her encounter with Socialist Russia. When Bailie holds aloft a rectangle of fabric in the same shade of flaming red as her costume, she becomes heroic Duncan, fully convinced of the importance of her dance.
Jolene Bailie in “Dances for Isadora” by José Limón / Photo by Hugh Conacher

Another work from the archives was Rachel Browne’s “Freddy”. Winnipeg-based choreographer Browne brought this work to Vancouver’s Dancing on the Edge Festival the year of its premiere, 1991, and images of the delightfully campy solo, set to music by Kurt Weill and performed by Sharon Moore, have stayed with me since. Bailie presented an excerpt entitled “Tango”, although if she had danced the whole work it might have filled out the under-an-hour-long evening.

In “Tango”, Bailie performs as a mustachioed lover. She fulfills whole-heartedly the fellow’s lovelorn, silent-screen-style movement and then, somehow, for the second half, metamorphoses into a perky cabaret dancer.
Jolene Bailie in “walking thru myself” by Joe Laughlin / Photo by Hugh Conacher

The evening opened and closed with more abstract pieces, beginning with the premiere of one of Bailie’s own choreographies, “Bell/Anti-Bell,” and ending with Joe Laughlin’s “walking thru myself”, created for Bailie in 2003. In “Bell/Anti-Bell,” Bailie gave herself the kind of pretzel-making shapes and split legs that sometimes obliterate any real interpretive interest. Not so here. In a partially transparent purple tunic, she moves from yoga pose to gymnastic excess so smoothly it seems inevitable. Set to a score by Brett Dean that features spooky-sounding violins and a telephone operator’s annoying instructions, the piece seems to touch on modern day alienation, but Bailie is no modern dance automaton. Despite her extreme physicality, she remains warm and human.

This is partly the result of the way she dares show emotion in her face. Bailie is a woman first, a dancer by calling. This is even more clearly expressed in Laughlin’s experienced choreographic hands. Laughlin has created character pieces before, notably in the cross-dressing “Harold, Billy, Stan and Jack.” In “walking thru myself”, character is less defined than in that 1997 piece, but nonetheless personality infuses the movement with the kind of juice Bailie relishes.

The stage is strewn with letters of the alphabet. At the start, the words The End are briefly lit upstage. Clad in moss green pieces of fabric that form a top and skirt, Bailie crashes through a series of angular movements to a score by Sheila Chandra and the Ganges Orchestra. She’s a flirtatious waif and sometimes a lost child, as she collapses to the floor, lifts her foot to her mouth and kisses it, and sticks her bottom in the air. “The world of words is meaningless” is heard on the soundtrack, but to close, The End is lit once more as Bailie turns to us, and smiles. The words do make sense!

As for the thoroughly uplifting Chasing Bliss, it was the kind of show to which you could bring someone –- anyone -– new to dance and be confident they would not feel mystified and alienated. I’d like to see Jolene Bailie perform in a more formal venue, one where she could forget the excerpts, have an intermission if needed, and really take both herself and the audience on a journey.

Cuppa Jo provides a blissful fringe experience
Dancer’s endearing presence makes show one of the Fringe’s must-sees

Chasing Bliss is a must-see

Amidst the endless ringing, beeping and buzzing known as modern communication, answering the call of our bliss is easier said than done. In her latest solo dance offering, Winnipeg-native Jolene Bailie takes a closer look at the pursuit of happiness and the road blocks it prevents.

Chasing Bliss gets off to a saucy start with a tongue-and-cheek tribute to telephone queuing and its rage-inducing reassurances. (“Your call is important to us” just doesn’t cut it after two hours on hold). From the moment Bailie takes the stage, her presence is endearing. This dancer demonstrates impressive breadth through bound and unbound energy, skilfully articulating her movements to the tune of every last finger and toe.

Watching Bailie is a pleasure as her effortless transitions from liquid to static are an energized reflection of real-life conundrums.

Chasing Bliss is a must-see Fringe for dancers and non-dancers alike.

September 18, 2005
The Vancouver Sun
Melissa Poll

Cuppa Jo: Chasing Bliss
Bailie may be chasing bliss through the creative process. Watching her I found it.
I could have watched Winnipeg’s Jolene Bailie dance all night. A chameleon on two legs, Bailie assumes a new persona in each of her four solos. In “Bell/Anti-Bell“, her own work, she rings the tocsin with her many jointed body, her torso, pelvis and limbs undulating back and forth like Gumby. the sonorous peal gives away to the shrill of a phone. As she is repeatedly put on hold, Bailie contorts her limbs into shapes that reflect her inner frustrations. “Thank you for holding,” says the phone company voice, “your feelings are important to us.” In “Freddy“, Rachel Browne’s brilliant little hats-off to German cabaret, Bailie wears sideburns, moustache, pants and vest with watch chain. She vamps like a Buenos Aires lounge lizard in a tango danced to Teresa Strata’s songs. An excerpt from “Dances For Isadora” by Jose Limon is a stylish period piece recalling the great Isadora Duncan’s florid freeform. Joe Laughlin’s “walking thru myself” is a surreal journey through cut-out letters of the alphabet scattered around the stage, while a voice-over mutters “the world of words is meaningless” – a cheeky finale for a dance program.

September 14, 2005
The Vancouver Courier

heroically sensual

Winnipeg’s contemporary dancer Jolene Bailie is so alive in every fibre – she’s strong, pliant, and her balance is phenomenal – that you’ll leave Chasing Bliss feeling like your body has just made a very good friend. Bonus: Bailie’s skills help her to realize dances that are both accessible and artistically daring. Bell/Anti Bell, which marks her debut as a choreographer, is an extraordinary combination of vulnerability and strength. She undulates her torso and exposes her pelvis, but the tone is urgent rather than pleading. In Rachel Browne’s Freddy, she becomes a moustachioed Latin Lover, and in Joe Laughlin’s walking thru myself, a silent screen coquette. The excerpt from Jose Limon’s Dances for Isadora sums up the program: heroically sensual.

September 08, 2005
Colin Thomas
The Georgia Straight

Chasing Bliss
The fit, frenetic and funkily fluid Jolene Bailie is back

What’s the fringe without a Cuppa Jo? The fit, frenetic and funkily fluid Jolene Bailie is back with this series of four short dances. Bailie, as always, is fascinating to watch as she twists and bends her body like sassy Silly Putty. Sexy like a B movie starlet – especially in the new piece, “Bell/Anti-Bell” and the cabaret-esque drag king tango “Freddy” – and only mildly pretentious, a Cuppa Jo should be part of any well-rounded Fringe diet.

September 01, 2005
John Threlfall
Monday Magazine

Chasing Bliss
rating: A

Winnipeg’s Jolene Bailie wowed the crowd with the four-segment dance show Chasing Bliss. Bailie is an immensely talented dancer, driven by passion, and her enthusiasm is infectious. Beginning with her own creation, Bell/Anti Bell, a stunning piece which captures humour, frustration, and a zen-like calm in its relatively short span, Bailie set the bar high but did not disappoint. Several other pieces illustrated Bailie’s versatility as a dancer. The performance ended with the complex and dazzling Joe Laughlin work, walking thru myself, in which Bailie’s ingénue wound her way through letters littered around the stage, coaxing a story from tem. Bailie’s work is self-assured and ambitious, and her abilities seem endless.

Uptown Magazine
August 04, 2005

Jolene pushes the limits of physical endurance in this piece as she takes us on a tour of her limitless abilities.

Many theatre performers have stage presence, the ability to project themselves, to break down the fourth wall” between them and the audience. Winnipeg contemporary dancer Jolene Bailie has the added extraordinary ability to reach out, take you by the
hand, and draw you into the singular universe that she creates on stage. Within mere seconds, you are transfixed as you marvel at her physicality. While she commands your attention, there is only you and her – nothing else exists.

There are five different dance pieces in “Chasing Bliss“, but Bailie’s own creation – “Bell/Anti-Bell” – is a standout. On the surface (as indicated by the audio track), it seems that Jolene is permanently “on hold” while on the phone. As the piece progresses, it
takes on the quality of a metaphor for life itself. Jolene begins with a gentle undulation of her body in the initial stages of waiting, but soon morphs into quick, frantic movements and surreal contortions as she physically represents the feelings of frustration
and impatience that, near the end, almost transform her into a primal creature. Jolene pushes the limits of physical endurance in this piece as she takes us on a tour of her limitless abilities.

Having watched Jolene for a few years now, if I may be permitted a hockey analogy, Jolene Bailie is “the Wayne Gretzky of contemporary dance”. Her level of skill places her in a league of her own. No one else comes close.

The Jenny Revue
Robin Chase

July 23, 2005

Bailie’s artistry is potent, flavourful, complex, and will force your eyes open to her excellence

Winnipeg’s Jolene Bailie, who calls her solo company Cuppa Jo, pours a generous cup of challenging contemporary dance that ain’t no wimpy decaf. Bailie is usually barefoot. But the highlight of this diverse five-work show comes when she dons black shoes and digs into muscular, streetwise blues, After Words, by Gaile Petursson-Hiley. Accompanied by John Cale’s blazing slide guitar, Bailie becomes a scrappy urban survivor whose deep, deep backwards bending is soulful poetry.

This slender, long-haired brunette – a chameleon who transforms her look for each piece – delivers not just stellar technique and compelling stage presence, but an actor’s performance from the neck up. An intense new piece of her own making, Bell/Anti Bell, is weird enough to be off-putting, alternating the frustration of telephone-hold hell with the blissful calm of yoga. And a political themed excerpt from the five-piece Dances for Isadora lacks power in the absence of the other four dances.

Despite such clouds in the coffee, this is THE solo dance performance to catch at the fringe. Like a mug of java brewed by an expert, Bailie’s artistry is potent, flavourful, complex, and will force your eyes open to her excellence.

The Winnipeg Free Press
Alison Mayes

July 22, 2005

a surreal dreamscape that will keep you wide awake

Not a contemporary dance aficionado? Don’t worry, you’ll appreciate the art after seeing local dancer Jolene Bailie submerge herself in a series in a series of characters in this enthralling dramatic piece. Bailie pays tribute to dance icon Isadora Duncan, portrays a woman living in a pre-Nazi Germany, play a silent film heroine and dons other personae – along with stunning costumes – while contorting her body into pretzel-like shapes and executing staccato and raw dance movements set to a haunting soundtrack. The final, beautiful sequence is a surreal dreamscape that will keep you wide awake.

Sabrina Carnevale
The Winnipeg Sun

July 22, 2005

defiant, funny and entertaining

The words graceful, deep and sensual are often used to describe a dance performer. But in Winnipegger Jolene Bailie’s case, I’m more apt to choose defiant, funny and entertaining. In her five-part modern dance show Chasing Bliss, Bailie starts off strong. First with a macabre but humorous depiction of a female cross-dresser in pre-Nazi Germany. Her next dance has her writhing on the stage in a full-body explosion of frustration at the torment of waiting on hold for a telephone operator to pick up (something we can all relate to). The eclectic and lively musical choices help propel Chasing Bliss to a colourful finale. Dance training is an asset, but is not required to enjoy this performance.

Jessica Grillanda

Jolene Bailie acts and dances superbly while evoking
dance legend Isadora Duncan in
Chasing Bliss

The spirit is pure Duncan, the technique is Limon, and Bailie masters both brilliantly.

Winnipeg dancer Jolene Bailie is a slight young woman with a huge stage presence and the maturity to take on both the choreography of Toronto’s Marie-Josee Chartier and the legendary persona of Isadora Duncan.

In a fringe show called Chasing Bliss, she evokes images of the sea in A Short Voyage, a solo commissioned from Chartier. Bailie alternately appears to go with the flow of harness the power of waves in this dance, set to penetrating music for cello composed by Linda Smith. With an awed look on her face, the dancer recedes into darkness like a traveller moving onto the darkness.

Dances for Isadora, created by Jose Limon and first performed in 1971, pays tribute to the life and art of the revolutionary artist who danced in Communist Russia, married a millionaire, lost her two children in the Seine and died a bizarre death in 1927, strangled by her scarf when it caught in the wheel of a moving sports car.

Bailie shows as much range as an actor as she has a dancer, performing each of Limon’s short solos marking the five stages in Duncan’s life. She appears to age before our eyes, dancing from youthful nymph to blousy matron remembering her former triumphs. The spirit is pure Duncan, the technique is Limon and Bailie masters both brilliantly.

Susan Walker
The Toronto Sta
July 08, 2005


Dancer Jolene Bailie is captivating in two solo selections, inhabiting each moment of her performance with a tangible emotional presence. In the first piece, A Short Voyage by Marie-Josée Chartier, Bailie conveys manic distress, contorting on the floor or running around its perimeter. It’s a nice intro to the showpiece, Bailie’s recreation of a 1971 tribute to dance icon Isadora Duncan, called Dances for Isadora. Her sensuous moves are accented by a flowing scarlet shift, among other costumes, and Bailie’s own flowing mane. There’s even an allusion to Duncan’s tragic end. Bailie’s fearless style is easily appreciated in this up-close venue.

Eye Magazine
July 14, 2005

Where wonderful collides with awful
Dancing on the Edge (excerpt from a review that included many other artists)
July 7-16, 2005

delivers the dance goods, shows us how Isadora did it and why people went wild over her. Bailie matches, possibly exceeds the material.

Jose Limon’s Dances for Isadora presented challenges and pleasures.

This was a look backward a couple of generations. Mexican-born Jose Limon was part of the fermenting modern dance scene in New York in the 1930’s.

He formed his own company in 1946, and produced one of the only modern dance pieces of that era to remain alive in the repertories of companies today, The Moor’s Pavane, a retelling of the Othello story by means of Renaissance court dance.

Limon considered Isadora Duncan to be his true mentor, and composed a five-part dance love poem to her in 1971. The piece, set on Winnipeg dancer Jolene Bailie by Nina Watt of the Limon Company, evokes the iconic stage monster in different phases of her tumultuous life.

It did not come as a surprise that the work is dated. But Dances does harness something of Duncan’s reported power. Her steps are said to have been everyday – skips, runs, twirls – and her magic to have resided in her ability to gather momentum with such simple building blocks, to contrast movement and stillness, to appear emotionally naked on stage.

Bailie gives us this. Dressed in wisps of chiffon, she paints accurate portraits of Duncan (gamboling with heightened energy, staggering with grief, overblown and indulgent) but she also delivers the dance goods, shows us how Isadora did it and why people went wild over her. Bailie matches, possibly exceeds the material.

Deborah Meyers
The Vancouver Sun

July 14, 2005

Winnipeg solo dancer Jolene Bailie….captures the fey, expressionistic style of American dance pioneer Isadora Duncan and her classical Greek aesthetic…Long-haired, striking, Bailie is a charming dancer.

Paula Citron
The Globe and Mail

July 12, 2005

It takes guts, stamina, and a truckload of confidence to perform an entire show as a solo dancer.
Winnipegger Jolene Bailie pulled it off two weeks ago with Chasing Bliss, which featured a stunningly assured homage to Isadora Duncan.
Alison Mayes
The Winnipeg Free Press

May 29, 2005

“… a giddy fool engaged in the serious process of creation. Whoever she is, this creature is revelling in the world of dance: associative, celebratory, visceral.”

With Gaile Petursson-Hiley’s After Words, the program has edge; brutal falls to the floor erase the memory of soulful extensions. And the fourth bit, Joe Laughlin’s walking thru myself, gets really interesting. Wearing a bobbed black wig, Bailie wanders through letters of the alphabet that are scattered around the stage; she poses coquettishly, and walks awkwardly, feet on her hands. Her character seems to be both a club kid and a goddess, a giddy fool engaged in the serious process of creation. Whoever she is, this creature is revelling in the world of dance: associative, celebratory, visceral.

Colin Thomas
The Georgia Straight

September 2004

Cuppa Jo: New Works

guaranteed to enthral

Past Fringe fave, Jolene Bailie returns with new modern dance pieces guaranteed to enthral. With different choreographers for each work and music ranging from John Cale to Sheila Chandra, Bailie is captivating, whether drifting across a bare stage or twisting between the letters of the alphabet. Using her body as most Fringe performers speak their lines, Bailie physically narrates four pieces that are as unique as our own individual interpretations. Anybody who says there’s not enough dance in Victoria should see Cuppa Jo. You’ll want the front row.

September 2-8, 2004
Monday Magazine, Victoria and
The Westender, Vancouver
John Threfall

Cuppa Jo
Bailie delivers a classy, professional performance that will set off deep quadrants of the imagination.”

Though modern dance can be an inaccessible medium, Jolene Bailie’s intense human portraits will hook even the neophyte into this hour of arresting drama and struggle.

Bailie’s performance rings with a taut energy, as four differing solos are linked together with her halting movements and penetrating eyes that draw the audience into her world.

The performance opens with Just a Few Broken Columns – a solo derived from choreographer Bill Evans’ anger at the war in Iraq. The woman in this solo is clearly tormented. She barely has time to catch her breath before another pang chases her across the stage again. A Short Voyage is a baffling and intense piece, choreographed by Marie-Josee Chartier, while After Words is a powerful struggle between a woman and her unseen oppressor.

Walking Thru Myself, choreographed by Joe Laughlin, is a dreamy exploration of a diva’s heart, a lovely yet terrible characterization – one second Bailie scratches intently at her skin, the next she moves with thrilling happiness.

Bailie delivers a classy, professional performance that will set off deep quadrants of the imagination.

August 30, 2004
Times Colonist (Victoria)
Caroline Skeleton

Cuppa Jo is worth seconds

5 out of 5 Suns

Here is a rare opportunity to share
an hour with a superlative artist
obviously at the top of her game

According to the program for Cuppa Jo, Winnipeg dancer Jolene Bailie has been around for some time. She comes to the fringe with an impressive background, including work with some internationally well-known teachers and choreographers.

As far as I know, this is Bailie’s first appearance in Edmonton. If so, local audiences are indeed fortunate to be present at the beginning of a major career in contemporary dance.

Not since Margie Gillis began appearing here regularly has there been such a thrill of the discovery in the dance.

Angular and slim, Bailie exhibits a complete mastery and control. Long arms and legs allow her to fill the stage, punctuating and underlining her moves – sometimes sinuous and fluid and other times with herky-jerky movements characteristic of modern dance.

Even her long, expressive fingers stretch out, filling and animating the surrounding blackness.

The dancer’s balance is amazing as she performs complex rhythmical movements – sometimes standing on one foot. Although her form stretches into quite extreme contours, she never gives the impression of anything but ease and command. She is no uncomfortable contortionist, just a superlative dancer in complete control of her medium.

Her program is aesthetically and intellectually pleasing to watch, including works by such well-known choreographers as Bill Evans, Marie-Josée Chartier and Joe Laughlin. The music ranges from shards of exotic sound in an Indian-influenced work to a witty composition from contemporary dance favourite (and Velvet Underground founder) John Cale.

Here is a rare opportunity to share an hour with a superlative artist obviously at the top of her game. Mark Cuppa Jo down as a don’t miss.

Friday, August 13, 2004
The Edmonton Sun
Colin MacLean

Cuppa Jo
Jolene Bailie’s relaxed athleticism is engrossing.”

Cuppa Jo is one of those occasional modern dance performances that allows those of us who don’t particularly like dance to enjoy the remarkable mixture of movement and sound. Great music and choreography combined with Jolene Bailie’s relaxed athleticism is engrossing. Over the course of the four pieces, Bailie covers a surprising range of emotions, from loneliness to a dynamic light heartedness.

August 16-25
Vue Weekly, Edmonton
James Elford

Cuppa Jo: she’s smart in ways that you can feel
“…a physical lexicon that even a dance ignoramus (such as your reviewer) can’t help but find affecting, intriguing and aesthetically satisfying.”

Jolene Bailie’s program – the one you get handed at the door -is rather sweet, really. (Seek one out, even if you don’t plan to go). The dancer wants very much for you not to be intimidated by the fact that the four pieces that comprise Cuppa Jo are abstract. If you’re not the trusting kind, she provides a little background. If, however, you take her at her word and just kinda watch, you’ll be treated to a short visit with an assured and capable artist – “capable” in both physical and intellectual senses. As the pieces move from visions of fear and anger through to sexy confidence, Bailie’s invokes a physical lexicon that even a dance ignoramus (such as your reviewer) can’t help but find affecting, intriguing and aesthetically satisfying.

August 16-22
See Magazine, Edmonton
Kevin Wilson

Watching Bailie perform is a surreal experience.”

I was on the edge of my seat, craning to see dancer Jolene Bailie and her every move. And I was just one row back.
You see, when Bailie dances, she is breathtaking. I didn’t want to miss anything and I certainly couldn’t look away.

Bailie’s solo dance performance, entitled Cuppa Jo, is a treat well-beyond any caffeinated beverage.
Through four finely choreographed dance routines, the Winnipeg-based dancer battles with external and internal forces. This requires flexibility and skill. You can see her emotions ooze out from her flexed toes, limp fingers or vibrant kicks.

The 60 minute dance floated by and kept me enraptured from scene to scene.

Bailie is physically amazing.

She changed from statuesque, on tip-toe, reaching out of herself – pulled up by the heavens – then reduced her body into a tiny contracted ball of vulnerability – crushed or cowering from another invisible force. She is a beautiful dancer, strong and dazzling.

Bailie moved from anguished and frail, fighting some indescribable torment in the first song, to the final act where she played a coquette, full of nerves, but cheeky enough to make you smile, side-stepping large foam alphabet props.

Watching Bailie perform is a surreal experience. Her haunting performance sticks and I’m sure I’ll think about Cuppa Jo long after Fringe week wraps up. This is a must see performance and a treat.

Chantal Eustace
The Star Phoenix, Saskatoon

August 2004

Go See Cuppa Jo

Took my breath away….

Bill Robinson

the strength of coiled steel and the pliancy of rubber

Solo performers impress by a varied combination of means. In some way, they have to be physically arresting. They must also move with unswayable conviction and they need to have something to say, even if the words – in this case of dance, the moves – come from someone else. A soloist cannot dance from the surface. There has to be poetry and soul.

Bailie combines all these characteristics and more. Although her body might at first seem willowy, it has the strength of coiled steel and the pliancy of rubber. With a solid grounding in ballet technique, Bailie has a keen sense of where her physical centre rests but uses this to move with surety in off-centered directions that are more typical of modern dance.

Like another famous Canadian solo dancer, Margie Gillis, Bailie has long brown hair, although she does not make it part of her visual signature. In one of her three Fringe solos Bailie wears it in a bun and in another she buries it entirely under a black pageboy wig.

And Bailie is versatile. A different choreographer has created each of her solos and she adapts admirably to their particular requirements. In American choreographer, Bill Evans’ “Just a Few Broken Columns“, Bailie is in dramatic mode, evoking the image of an oppressed yet defiant woman, hands alternately clenched or contorted into claw-like appendages. In Toronto choreographer Marie-Josee Chartier’s moodily lit “A Short Voyage“, Bailie seems to travel into an interior realm of hidden thoughts and anxieties marked by difficult balances and contorted floor work. The tone is edgy and fraught. Them, for Vancouver choreographer Joe Laughlin’s “walking thru myself“, Bailie becomes a screen character – probably of her own dreamlike imagination – as she negotiates a stage littered with large cut-out letters to score of distorted voices and South Asian vocal rhythms.

Michael Crabb
The National Post

Monday, July 05, 2004

Cuppa Jo
an ideal way for neophytes and aficionados alike to appreciate the possibilities of the form

Jolene Bailie’s impressive performance of four modern dance pieces is an ideal way for neophytes and aficionados alike to appreciate the possibilities of the form. The works are ordered so that they become progressively more unconventional, evoking and portraying emotions that grow increasingly erratic and unsettling. It’s not merely the juxtaposition of dance styles that make this a satisfying buffet. The costumes range from a sexy shift to a two-piece number like Tarzan’s Jane might have worn. The fourth piece features music that’s more like a fascinating pattern of rhythmic buzzes, which makes you realize that the first piece wasn’t as outré as you might have thought.

Toronto Eye Weekly
July 08, 2004

Ten shows you shouldn’t miss: Comedy, drama and choreography
This expressive Winnipeg-based dancer has been praised from coast to coast.”

If the Fringe were a box of chocolates, it would probably be the box that’s been reduced to clear at the drug store because it fell off the shelf, its contents all cracked and dented. Nevertheless, the perfect cherry cordial is there to be found. Here are the top 10 shows at this year’s Fringe that you’ll be happy to bite into….

Cuppa Jo, by Jolene Bailie. This expressive Winnipeg-based dancer has been praised from coast to coast. Here, she performs solo works by some of Canada’s best-known choreographers, including Montreal’s Marc Boivin, Toronto’s Marie-Josee Chartier and Vancouver’s Joe Laughlin…

J. Kelly Nestruck
The National Post

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Three new pieces a perfect showcase for dancer’s style
pure dance with phenomenal flexibility, torrents of emotion, and an aesthetic reach that never exceeds her grasp

She’s been compared to other soloists with long tresses, such as Canada’s Margie Gillis and even the famous Isadora Duncan. Yet Jolene Bailie’s hair is only one aspect of this deftly original artist who doesn’t need the drama of a cascading coiffure – or any other theatrical device, for that matter.

Hers is pure dance with phenomenal flexibility, torrents of emotion, and an aesthetic reach that never exceeds her grasp.

At a Thursday preview of her Cuppa Jo show with three world premieres of three new works by three gifted choreographers – Montreal’s Marc Boivin, Toronto’s Marie-Josée Chartier and Vancouver’s Joe Laughlin – Bailie’s instincts in finding the right dances for her style paid off handsomely in this production. It opened last night at the WCD Studio theatre, with both Boivin and Chartier in town during the production.

The Winnipeg-based dancer’s expressive, distinctively pre-Raphaelite features suited Boivin’s soulful To Somewhere Else. A large white canvas backdrop is the only set piece, and lighting designer Hugh Conacher’s expansive lighting effect makes it look as if Bailie is dancing inside a high atrium or cathedral. The mostly angular, hinged movements of the choreography are performed with superhuman precision.

Her flexibility is also showcased in this dance, and many lesser dancers wouldn’t be able to take it to the level she achieves. Standing on tiptoe, reaching skyward, her body extends up and up, her torso elongates yet further, then in another sequence, she contracts into a small space. Her body expands with the music and then, like a tide, recedes again.

Bailie is a virtuoso dancer with impeccable balance and control. In To Somewhere Else and also in Chartier’s edgy, neurotic piece, A Short Voyage, Bailie lifts a leg, extends it, and holds it in the air or cradles it while balancing on one foot, sometimes while doing one-eighth turns.

A Short Voyage, which has a subtle Arabic or Middle Eastern flavour, also features an interesting lighting effect where Bailie is motionless on the floor as she watches something, perhaps a train car, move past her.

Audiences expecting to see her long hair down may be surprised to see that Bailie keeps it in a bun throughout and even wears a shorter, dark hairpiece in the last dance. This is a wise choice. While her hair is a good prop for some dances, it shouldn’t become Bailie’s only signature, because she has so much else to offer.

Laughlin’s whimsical walking thru myself assumes an altogether different tome than the first two dances on the ticket. While Chartier’s piece relies mostly on lighting rather than set and costume, the last piece has large Styrofoam alphabet letters dispersed on the floor and smaller letters drifting past that dancer’s eye level on an invisible line.

Dresses in a dark wig, Bailie plays out a kind of waking dream where she is the heroine in a surrealistic silent screen drama, and at the last moment she poses beside a sign that says “The End”.

At 60 minutes, the show is compact enough, but this is the kind of production where you wish there was even one more dance to enjoy since Bailie just seems to be getting started. Well, always leave ’em wanting more, right?

Garth Buchholz
The Winnipeg Free Press

May 08, 2004

A captivating performance with flawless movements and innovative choreography.”

A captivating performance with flawless movements and innovative choreography. The life and specificity of these pieces bore themselves into my inner being and moved me greatly. Jolene is striking and expressive and completely sustains the essence of each piece. Stunning costumes and infectious music.

Terminal City Weekly

Sept. 12, 2003

Jolene Bailie carves out a fascinating poetic space.”

In the first three of the four dances on this program, Jolene Bailie carves out a fascinating poetic space. Her powerful, supple body can be as awkward, angular, and off-balance as it can be steely, streamlined, and controlled. The sum is as deeply human, vulnerable, and appealingly androgynous as a well-muscled small-town girl. In the fourth piece, choreographer Stephanie Ballard’s Mara, Bailie turns into a mermaid, hair flowing, breasts almost visible beneath the sheer bodice of her dress. It’s transporting.

Colin Thomas
The Georgia Straight

Sept. 11, 2003

Fringe: Great Price for Talent
Bailie is a world-class talent – a very strong dancer who exudes a wonderful sense of focus, precision and power.”

Winnipeg’s Jolene Bailie is a gifted modern dancer at the top of her game. With the rather inelegantly named Cuppa-Jo, she performs four short dances that are deeply powerful and satisfying.

Nothing will impress more than the finale, Mara, choreographed by Stephanie Ballard, in which Bailie transforms herself into a Pre-Raphaelite fantasy of astonishing beauty.

Already long-limbed, the dancer – having finally set free her long, hair – at first appears to have become a giant (she’s actually standing on a pedestal concealed by her long, flowing dress). Set to Saint-Seans silvery piano arpeggios, the lyricism of Bailie’s movements is shot through with subtle balletic references.

The overall effect is unremittingly sensual and romantic, yet there is much diversity here. Sometimes Bailie, back to the audience, does a shimmering tip-toe shuffle; at one point she surprises us with a graceful cartwheel; elsewhere she poses, eyes cast sideways like a silent film star.

Ballard’s choreography also opens the performance, which is 45 minutes in total. Etude, is set to Stefka Sabotinova’s mystic, Eastern European sounding singing, which provides a soulful sonic backdrop. Combined with certain repeated gestures, such as hand-cupped-to-the-ear listening pose, the effect is subtly folkloric. Bailie’s dancing is primal, archetypal and at the same time dramatic.

The Illegibility of This World, created by Julia Sasso, carries a suggestion of repressed violence and oppression. Electric music – pure rhythms that sometimes sound organic and sometimes robotic – result in movements that seem curiously imprisoned, only to burst free in frenzied outbursts.

Elsewhere, a post-modern blues by John Cale inspired choreographer Gaile Petursson-Hiley to devise a piece called Afterwords, also replete with a thick sense of foreboding.

Adrian Chamberlain
Times Colonist

August 23, 2003

Enthralling and refreshingly original dance moves
a sensory delight of romantic, bewitching and opulent style

….. Within four finely choreographed solo dance performances, Jolene Bailie splices elegance and agility with raw, sharp contemporary movements. Each segment gets progressively stronger and entices your imagination to wander further into her emotionally dynamic vibration. The second segment is performed first, without accompanying music – magnifying the audience’s focus – and then amplifies its pace with a crisp electronic beat in the second. Come the third segment, paranoia, torment, fear, ecstasy and flirtation all flash before your eyes, embodied by a miasma of dynamic interchangeability – quite a visual rollercoaster. For the ending performance, Bailie changes the pace and ambiance with a beautiful display of enchanting and seductive fantasy, using long hair and long fluid dress as her instruments of expression. If you fancy a sensory delight of romantic, bewitching and opulent style, add this one to your list.

Monday Magazine

August 28, 2003

Cuppa Jo
stage presence, passion and superb technical prowess

Winnipeg’s Jolene Bailie served up an extraordinary cup of coffee with her solo dance show called Cuppa Jo. Her first piece, Etude, choreographed by Stephanie Ballard, opened the show in silence. You could have heard a pin drop! This inspired work featured a range of movements from startling claw like hands to moments of struggle against unseen power. The striking music of Stefka Sabotinova was matched by the strength of Bailie’s stage presence, passion and superb technical prowess.

Capping off the evening was the dance piece Mara, a piece last seen by the legendary Margie Gillis. This gem is well worth the price of admission alone! Bailie had me spellbound and almost out of my chair. Long waving hair and tales of magic and mermaids emerged from yards of fabric creating a ten foot tall creature of beauty!

The three years spent developing this highly professional show are evident. Bailie is a superb and engaging performer. You may think that modern dance is not your cup of tea, but I suggest you take time to sit back and enjoy a great Cuppa Jo.

Jackie Latendresse
Planet S Magazine

Saskatoon, August 07, 2003

This is something that will linger in the imagination for a long, long while. “

She may be a Cuppa Jo but she’s got gallons of talent. Winnipeg’s Jolene Bailie is an independent dancer with a huge kick in her step.

Four distinct dances choreographed by three artists make for an hour that covers some ground, moving from a kind of nomadic whirling dervish to an electrified mass media twitch, to the final work — Mara. This surreal dance, choreographed by award-winning Stephanie Ballard, moves into some other stratosphere along with the mermaids and fairies who must have helped the Royal Winnipeg Ballet wardrobe department make Bailie’s dress. This is something that will linger in the imagination for a long, long while.

Tamara Bodi
Winnipeg Free Press

July 22, 2003

Bailie Mesmerizes Through Movement
Even at rest, Jolene’s body trembles in anticipation of her next series of movements, heightening expectations in her audience.”

Mere minutes into Winnipeg contemporary dancer Jolene Bailie’s opening piece, “Etude“, you become very much aware that there is a precision to the litheness of her movements that is quickening your pulse. And whether it be the high-stepping contortions of her second piece, “The Illegibility of this World“, or the raw athleticism of her third performance, “Afterwords“, you are aware of a visceral response as you marvel at her seamless fluidity.

But it is in her final piece, “Mara“, that Jolene truly displays her brilliance as a solo dancer. Clad in an extremely long trailing dress and with her long hair flowing about her upper body, Jolene transforms herself into a mermaid and the stage becomes her sea, through which she glides sensuously, her form elusive and somehow in substantive. Through her floor movements, we perceive waves where none exist, and when she dances upright, we imagine glistening beads of water dripping from her hair.

Even at rest, Jolene’s body trembles in anticipation of her next series of movements, heightening expectations in her audience. And throughout her 45-minute show, she never disappoints.

Robin Chase
The Jenny Revue

July 20, 2003

a treat for your right brain

Once upon a time, back in the decadent 1980’s, Winnipeg had a festival of contemporary dance. What ever happened to it? I don’t quite know where we’d wedge it in on the calendar, but you’d think that a festival-made city like this could support one. Then again, New York’s Isabel Gotzkowsky and Friends, probably the best production I’ve seen in more than fifteen years of Fringing (and the only one that’s to date inspired me to deliberately see it a second time in the same week) played to half empty houses. Those in attendance were wildly rather than moderately enthusiastic, however aesthetic justice demanded that there should have been no empty seats in the venue prior to the amply deserved standing ovations.

Dance is a language I regrettably don’t speak, or even necessarily understand all that well. It’s not that I have a tin kinaesthetic ear, exactly, so much as I lack the requisite vocabulary and don’t speak it often enough to develop and retain it. But I know great beauty when I see it, and I know what I like. Cuppa-Jo is four solo dance performances by Jolene Bailie, whose performance is muscular, fluid, venerable, sensual, numinous. (Am I mistaken, or was the last of these an homage to Margie Gillis?)

Let’s talk in terms of comparisons to which Winnipeggers might best relate. IF you’ve ever marvelled at a performance by Sasha Cohen or Irina Slutskaya, you might be pleasantly surprised to discover that Cuppa-Jo is your cup of, well, Jo. Think of it as a treat for your right brain. Think of it as an antidote to verbal over stimulation. (Cuppa-Jo is, after all, conveniently located in the venue directly adjacent to JEM ROLLS.) And, unlike me, there’ll be no short essay question when you’re done.

Linda Harlos,
CBC Winnipeg
Saturday, July 19, 2003

une excellente interprète

La danseuse Jolene Bailie, originaire de Winnipeg; est sans contredit une excellente interprète. Elle nous a offert un triptyque composé des oeuvres The Illegibilty of this World, de la chorégraphe Julia Sasso, Afterwords, de Gaile Petursson-Hiley et Mara de Stephanie Ballard – qui a déjà été par la légendaire Margie Gillis.

Même si les deuxs premières pièces sont d’un justesse d’interprètation sur laquelle il y peu à redire, il reste que Mra, la toute derniere, nous arrive tel un cadeux des dieux. Jolene Bailie y est splendide et majestueuse de par sa présence charismatique qui séduit le public dès la première ondulation corporolle. Elle se meut telle une sylphide – ou une sirène sur son rocher – au son d’une musique dramatique et enivrante; ses gestes sont de petits coups de fouets ponctuant l’espace. Et que dire de cette chevelure qu’elle projette comme la prolongation de son corps dansant – sans que soit pour autant une pastiche malhabile de Margie Gillis. Elle maîtrise à merveille sa technique et son instrument. Ce fut alors un plaisir de la voir en jouer avec autant d’aisance.

Voir Magazine
Le 26 juin au 2 juillet 2003

Danse Au Fringe…
l’interprète à la perfection…le grand talent

Pour conclure mon petit samedi pluvieux, je me suis offert Cuppa Jo par l’interprète manitobaine Jolene Bailie. Cuppa Jo est composé de quatre solos créés par quatre choréographes différents. Le premier, Mara, so Stephanie Ballard, une pièce originalement conçue pour Margie Gillis, a bien fait rigoler. Si Bailie l’interprète à la perfection, elle le toutefois avec tant d’humour que c’en est presque un pastiche de Gillis. Par contre, les deux solos suivants, The Illegibility of this World de Julia Sasso et Afterwords de Gailie petursson-Hiley, sont tout à fait sérieux. Tout au long de ces deuz œuvres, on ne peut que constanter le grand talent et le haut niveau technique de Bailie. Superbe à voir! La danseuse conclut sa presenataion de nouveau sous le signe de humour avec Boots, un solo puissant à souhait, où il faut la voir en danseause à gogo avec ses bottes! Bref, un spectatcle donné par une pro qui amuse autant qu’il séduit. Vous avez jusqu’à dimance pour voir ces pièces, qui sont présentées au MAI.

François DuFort
Ici Magazine

June 25, 2003

Dancing Around The Edge
the most demanding kinetics

…Winnipeg-based dancer Jolene Bailie showed her range by adapting two contrasting pieces by choreographers in that city. Etude, was a graceful, passionate work created by Stephanie Ballard that found flowing vocabulary to match the plaintive song of Stefka Sabotinova. Every move seemed to rise from a strong, centered torso, whether Bailie was slicing arcs with her arms, or clawing at the sky with her fingers. She showed a more powerful side in choreographer Gaile Petursson-Hiley’s ode to resilience, After Words, rolling in the air and smashing herself on the floor, or bending backwards and sideways to some unseen force. the herky-jerky piece was highly reminiscent of La La La Human Steps’ heyday, but provided the most demanding kinetics of Edge Three.

July 2001
The Georgia Straight

What the Audience says….

“That was f*%king amazing!!!!” -Lucky Eights

“you are f#@king fabulous” -Tanya

Jolene Bailie’s new work for 2007, Private i, is absolute proof that there is an extraordinary breadth of her talents and performance skills. A great many people have marvelled at her abilities as a contemporary dancer and there were those among us who were convinced that she would excel as an actor in pure physical theatre. With Private i, Jolene has crossed the threshold into a new realm of theatrical experience. This woman is capable of anything and the scary thought is : The best is yet to come.

Private i is very much a presentation on two levels: 1) It is a look inside the mind of a young, contemporary woman – revealing her inner thoughts and feelings about issues that mnay women her age are concerned with: modern spirituality, war and death, and relationships… and 2) It gives us a peek at what makes Jolene herself tick. The ever present iPod keeps both the audience and Jolene grounded in the 21st century.

There are several dances, each designed to provide a physical choreographed representation of the issues being explored by the character. And Jolene shows us how exceedingly adept she is at conveying emotion and thought through dance and movement. From graceful poignancy through wrenching turmoil, from anger and a sense of futility to hope, happiness and a feeling that the character’s life is essentially a good one, Jolene takes full advantage of her amazing talent for physical expression.

It is interesting to note that Jolene had no clue, prior to the creation of the show, that she had any abilities as an actor beyond the limited physical and wordless acting that was included in some of her previous dance shows. Indeed, she was initially very nervous about doing dialogue on stage for the first time in her career. No fears there! Jolene’s verbal acting skills are on par with her dance and movement skills – which is to say, they are considerable.

July 27, 2007
Robin Chase, The Phantom Fringer

So, there’s, like, this show… and it’s got a really deep meaning… even though the character narrating is a little… you know… maybe sort of shallow? But she wants to grow as a person – and she can dance.”

Private i (created by Denise Clarke) is an expression of one girl’s feelings about the world through modern dance. A solo show by Jolene Bailie, it deals with war, jealousy, love, and of course, new shoes. It begins with 2 projections of Bailie grooving to her iPod, which she eventually turns off when she comes to the front of the stage and speaks into the microphone.

Speaking in a breathy, earnest tone, Bailie explains that she just heard of this new band from Toronto called the Hylozoists. “Hylozoism” is the belief that all matter contains life, which led her to think about souls – that sounds like something that she would like to have! Where is her soul?

This leads to an exquisitely emotional dance, after which Bailie returns to the mic, shedding her blazer with a final “Well, it’s not in the jacket.”

Later monologues talk about how she’s “not a jealous person… when I feel jealousy beginning in my toes, I just keep it there,” and the fear generated by reading in the newspaper about all the death and destruction going on.

These topics lend themselves very well to dance, and Bailie really gave it her all in both the character and choreography. She even sang a little. I found that the beginning speech was a little long, but after the show was over I decided that it was worth sitting through for what followed.

I’ve seen Jolene Bailie perform before, and I’ve found that she consistently dances with great technique as well as passion. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, don’t give up on watching a great show just because the Fringe is over – Bailie often performs in Winnipeg as Cuppa Jo solo dance.

July 27, 2007
Ksenia Broda-Milian – Churchill High School

Early on in this show, Jolene Bailie defines a hylozoist as someone who believes that all matter has soul. Then she asks : where in here is my soul? The answer reveals itself over the course of the next hour.

Bailie starts out by dancing along to the music on her iPod (which we can’t hear, of course) – hasn’t everyone who owns one done that at some point? She then sets the stage for her dances with a series of monologues. They run the gamut from the horrors of war to the absolute joy of being in the moment. Oh yes, and a humorous piece about trying to keep her jealousy at bay (it starts in her toes, by the way).

For those of you dance mavens out there, Bailie is a dynamic performer, and she charms and challenges the crowd. The music is provided by The Hylozoists) that’s where the word came from), and Bailie drinks it in and makes it her own.

She keeps her winning streak in the fringe going in this one. Where is Jolene Bailie’s soul? It’s in the dance, man.

July 23, 2007
Karl Eckstand, The Jenny Revue

Jolene is an outstanding performer. Her show is the perfect fringe show – funny, clever, weird and a bit off. Jolene has this uncanny ability to transform herself and it is hard to believe that one person can portray so many emotions and images. Yah, we all know Jolene Bailie is Winnipeg’s dancing queen, I must admit I knew of her, but had never seen her. My girlfriend dragged me to see this, and I was not into the idea. But then we got there and everything changed. It’s a terrific show and I recommend it to everyone.

Jake | July 22, 2007 08:02 PM, CBC Web review

Jolene Bailie never seizes to amaze me. This year she’s plunged herself into dance-theatre and she swims like a fish. A fun, clever and creative show that leaves you as it should at the end – wanting more! Jolene, as many of us know, is a fantastic dancer, one of the best we have here, and she always has a finished show, that has been developed and brewed over time, just like a good “cuppa” should. Jo is a total pro in private i!

Peter | July 21, 2007 01:28 PM, CBC Web review

Okay, it’s day two of the fringe, I’ve seen six shows already, and private i is my favorite so far and by far.

Miriam | July 20, 2007 11:21 PM, CBC Web review

I Ioved private i a lot. I’ve seen many a “Jolene Bailie shows” over the years, and although I’ve loved them all, this one was my favorite. Jolene had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand with her first line. Yes, that’s right, Jolene speaks! She really does! And we are dying to hear what she has to say. The show has stayed with me and has me thinking to myself, why dance (and for those of you who do not know it, Jolene Bailie is Winnipeg’s favorite modern dancer and name known all over the map) when you can act like that? This is top-notch work.

Hilary | July 20, 2007 02:32 PM, CBC Web review

WOW! Be glad, Winnipeg, to have dancers like those! A presentation full of deepest passion, progressing art and clear communication. Never before have I seen such a complex, well-composed and impressive performance. There is a new language being created, a language that only a few seem to understand already. But the time will come, where everybody will understand. What a fascinating new form of communication – without a single word. Strong, clear, fascinating. Again: Winnipeg, be proud of these artists. Be proud of those, who make the next steps into a new form of communicating. WOW!
Flo, July 28, 2006

This is a the most under – recognized show at the fringe. Should be a five star, should be the ultimate hot-ticket, she should be sold out. Down right awesome. I haven’t been able to get the images of Bailie out of my head since I saw her opening on Wednesday night. Everyone should see this show. This woman is incredible.
Gilbert, July 22, 2006

I’ve seen most of the pieces in this performance before and I would pay to see them again (and again!). This show is incredible! Jolene’s dedication and hard work combine to create an unforgettable show of immense talent. This show should have received 5 stars! If you haven’t seen this show yet do so immediately. It is well worth the $$.
Elizabeth, July 21, 2006

I’ve been hearing good things about Jolene for many years, she is the celebrity of the dance world in Winnipeg, and I finally made it out to one of her shows. I admit, I went with high expectations since she is said to be amazing. Well my snotty high expectations were totally surpassed and she absolutely shocked me. Her show is so good that I don’t know where to begin. She is a special talent and her show is mind-boggling. She is a genuine artist of the highest calibre. An eclectic show of genius, strong images, professional level and suitable for everyone. Every fringer should get their Cuppa Jo!
Katherine, July 21, 2006

This woman is a dancing machine and has crafted a real spectacular show. She should be a big star. The show has a video playing as the audience enters the space that gets one going and excited before the show starts. It’s a very artsy fartsy video, but a nice touch. The show has four works in it, all really strong. I go and see a lot of dance and this show is way better than the majority of dance shows I have seen in this city. Way better, by a long, long shot. It’s raw, athletic, you see risks and it commands your attention. I say “Bravo” and I think everyone should see this show. A million stars from me.
Greg, July 21, 2006

Chasing Bliss is amazing!! In the FOUR piece performance, Ms. Bailie takes us on an emotional and physical roller coaster. What an extraordinary talent – she can make us laugh and then sob in the next moment. This is at least a 4 Flower Power show, if not 5 and that perhaps the reviewer should see the (I assume) new version of the performance!!
Dave Parsons

Wow! I cannot believe this woman! Jolene Bailie is quite spectacular. I saw her transform herself into four complete and concise characters with strength and charisma. I’ve been a longtime fringer and nothing has effected me so profoundly as Chasing Bliss. It’s not just her bendability and oddness, but it’s her personality and love that shines. I recommend this show to everyone. It kept the attention of adults, kids and babies! Jolene Bailie presents an amazing one-woman show that is inspiring, thrilling and mesmerizing. I give it a 10 out of 10!
Sam McCaully

The 4 piece program was terrific. She received a “bravo” and standing ovation.
Cyndi Forcand

Jolene Bailie´s body language and facial expressions convey emotions, character and life phases. Jolene Bailie channels Isadora Duncan in “Dances for Isadora“. Chopin´s music heightened my impression that I was watching a silent movie about the rise and fall of Isadora Duncan. A must for dance buffs.

I didn’t stick around to get an autograph after your gig this past Sunday. : ) Although I did want to tell you (blatantly) that you are fucking fabulous! Your entire performance was spellbinding, from your delightfully charged technical form to your powerful yet surrendering spirit. I was particularly engaged in dear Joe Laughlin’s piece. Perhaps I might be biased because he is an acquaintance of mine from Vancouver. He is a real gem. Together your collaboration was awesome.
I don’t usually feel so moved to write such letters.
Thank you for your inspiration.

Absolutely amazing performance. As it had barely started I was drawn to remember my little sister, born profoundly deaf. I “saw” the remainder “thru her eyes”. Had she been by my side I know she would have experienced “sound” thru these extraordinary dance stories.

August 2004

Jolene I love you! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone act with their face and body yet without voice so well. Amazing! Come back please!!

August 2004

Unique, controlled, energizing, great!

July, 2004

It’s an excellent show!

July, 2004

Jolene Bailie – Cuppa Jo – gave a terrific performance. Creative and alluring she held the audience in rapture.

The Craig
August 27, 2003

Fantastic! The perfect Fringe (show) takes you to the edge you always knew was there, and shows you a view you’ve never imagined. Jolene Bailie should be a great star. The world deserves her light.

Roger Soffer
August 28, 2003


Wish I could find a cuppa java with this much energy and inspiration in it! Jolene Bailie’s flawless and stunning performance will definitely keep your eyes open. It was a visual treat. Grab it now. You’ll be glad you did.

The Craig
Victoria, August 28, 2003

One cannot help but be impressed by the lithe movements of Ms Bailie’s four renditions of contemporary dance exhibition. It was her last piece -her portrayal of “Mara” that left the audience wanting more. 45 minutes is too short.

Gim Ong
Winnipeg, July 20, 2003

Like seeing Margie Gillis again

She’s a strong dancer with a fine lyrical ability.

The final piece, Mara, was truly worth the price of admission – and then some! This piece was choreographed quite a few years ago for the remarkable Margie Gillis (or as I like to think of her, Margie Gillis and her hair). Jolene Bailie is the only dancer I can imagine performing this as well as Ms. Gillis. She’s superb! The audience holds its collective breath as Bailie transforms herself into a mermaid, a sea anemone, a supple fish. Exquisite!

Kudos to the folks who designed her costumes, particularly Heather MacCrimmon and the RWB Wardrobe dept.

Barb Popel
Winnipeg, July 22, 2003

Our First Time Fringer Friends Liked It Too

We saw Cuppa-Jo a second time and brought a couple of first time Fringers. They too adored “Mara“, and were very glad that they had seen Jolene Bailie’s show.

There’s still time to bring a friend.

Brian Murray Carroll
Winnipeg, July 25, 2003

One of the most feted new dancers on the fringe scene
Eye Magazine, July 07, 2005

finely honed interpretation
The Vancouver Sun, July 06, 2005

This year’s top pick is Chasing Bliss.
Now Magazine, Hot Summer Guide 2005

Winnipeg’s Jolene Bailie is considered by some to be the great new Canadian solo
artist, and heir (gulp!) to Montreal’s legendary Margie Gillis. Working within various
idioms of modern dance, the charismatic siren performs works by…
Marie-Josee Chartier, Joe Laughlin and Julia Sasso.
Her Toronto debut is long overdue.

Paula Citron
Toronto Life Magazine
June 2004