October 23 3:00PM-4:30PM

Event Information:
Chris Mendoza and I are excited to announce the final planned event of 2022 in the Implicit Choreographies & Relational Topographies program. Join us at 3:00 pm on October 23rd at the entrance to Summerhill Station for a foray in Yellow Creek ravine. Oksana Hawrylak and Dina Rashid of the Mycological Society of Toronto will lead us on a walk introducing the world of fungi and mushroom foraging interspersed by a series of movement-based activations by dance artists sarah koekkeok and Denise Solleza. This event will take place in Yellow Creek, a tributary of the Don River. Partially buried, with underground sections diverted along storm sewers, we will follow the ravine towards the Don Valley getting a glimpse of the branching network of current and former hydrological systems in the city.

Through our conversations with Oksana and Dina—as well as Mycological Society of Toronto literature—we continue to learn about the Mycorrhizal network that is alive in Toronto’s ravines and their role in the broader ecology we have been exploring through this program. The title of this event—Foray—is borrowed from the common term for a mushroom walk; however, it also reveals a particular orientation towards attunement and perception. Defined as "to do or attempt something outside one's accustomed sphere : to enter into a new or different field or area of activity" a foray invites a reconsideration of one’s perceptual mode they bring to a given activity. Within this expanded state of mind we can understand “field” as a grassy area (like much of the ravine floor) and a perceptual field (the totality of the environment that an individual perceives at a particular time). Taking “foray” in this sense, it gestures to a form of ecological attunement, one which has underscored our ongoing conversations on the Don with sarah koekkoek who often develops choreography through site-responsive methodologies. It is within this multiplicity that we arrive at this upcoming collaborative event.

Leading us through Yellow Creek, Oksana and Dina will draw our attention and gaze to the ground, introducing us to the network of fungi. Walking us through the process of the foray as an attunement to fungal structures, we will learn about their role in the environment as well as be introduced to mushroom identification.Complementing and inflecting this attentive mode: sarah koekkoek with collaborator Denise Solleza will extend the sensorial act of the mycological walk through a sequence of improvised and choreographed gestures. This parallel stream will respond to and extend the choreography of attention the foray brings to the fungal world, as well as the movement of our bodies in the surrounding environment of the ravine.

sarah koekkoek is an ecology focused multidisciplinary artist and educator based in Tkarón:to. In her former life as a classically trained ballet dancer sarah performed with many of Canada's largest ballet companies (Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Ballet Jorgen and The Royal Winnipeg Ballet). Currently, sarah is interested in creating work that explores our punctured relationship and existence within the abused and exploited natural world, developing an environment of (physical) emotions surrounding climate change and the anthropocene.

Denise Solleza (they/them) is a Filipinx-Canadian dance artist based in Toronto. They are a graduate of York University where they completed their Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. Denise has worked with Valerie Calam, Julia Aplin, Project Humanity, Anandam Dancetheatre, Hanna Kiel, Bo Lam, Lauren Runions/IO Movement, and Tracey Norman. In 2019, they were nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Performance (ensemble) for Jaberi Dance Theatre’s No Woman’s Land. Denise is also co-founder and co-artistic director of contemporary dance collective, Half Second Echo (HSE). They have choreographed and performed several works with HSE including Toronto Fringe Festival, Hamilton Fringe Festival, New Blue Festival, Montreal Fringe Festival, and the Body Brake series produced by Anandam Dancetheatre and Theatre Passe Muraille. Most recently, Denise has been exploring the intersection of dance and video. Their first dance film, READY-TO-ASSEMBLE, premiered in Vancouver as an official selection at the Festival Of Recorded Movement in September 2020.

Oksana Hawrylak is a Ukrainian Canadian illustrator, printmaker, designer, maker and community arts organizer based in Toronto and Grafton, Ontario. Her work is strongly inspired by Ukrainian folk art, craft and traditions, and the natural landscape of Ontario, where she currently resides. Oksana’s work focuses on the importance of exploring and familiarizing ourselves with our natural environment. The purpose behind her work is to engage with others so that we may better understand our natural surroundings and their connection to our identity and sense of belonging. She explores ancient Ukrainian seasonal crafts and rituals; specifically, didukhy (ancestral wheat trees) made in the winter, pysanky (Ukrainian Easter Eggs) in spring, and foraging for mushrooms in autumn.

Oksana is co-founder of Folk Camp Canada and a board member of the Mycological Society of Toronto.

Dina Rashid is the program director of the Mycological Society of Toronto.

The Mycological Society of Toronto is incorporated as a federally registered non-profit organization, with the mandate of stimulating public interest in and appreciation of fungi and their role in nature, and encouraging activities that explore the ecological role of fungi and support the conservation of wild mushrooms. All work is done by volunteers. Members are encouraged to participate by volunteering their time and skills.

Part of Implicit Choreographies & Relational Topographies

All images courtesy of Clea Christakos-Gee